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NHSI Playwriting

“I learned so much more than I bargained for…It was a wonderful opportunity to make connections and be surrounded by people who thought the same way as me. I already loved playwriting but now I have the tools to continue it.”

“The people I met and instruction I got were better than I could have imagined.”


In 2016, NHSI piloted an exciting new program with four Chicagoland high schools to teach students the art of playwriting. In our first year, 100 students were guided through the process of creating an original 10-minute play; over the course of 10-12 sessions, students participated in workshops, discussions, and writing exercises as they learned the basics of dramatic structure, honing their individual voices to develop their scripts. The program was such a success, that in the fall of 2017, NHSI enlarged its reach to 3 more local high schools and after 4 years, NHSI has worked with 10 Chicagoland high schools and served 1,000 students. In 2019, the program was expanded to Los Angeles, where we worked with students in 3 high schools.  This year, we have expanded our reach in L.A. to 8 high schools, serving approximately 200 students.

Current participating high schools include:

Evanston Township High School, Northside Prep, Lincoln Park High School, Mather High School, Glenwood North, Lane Tech High School, New Trier High School, Providence St. Mels, ChiArts and Senn High School.

Hollywood High School, Beverly Hills High School, Alliance Leichtman Levine, Millikan, Windward, Orthopedic Medical Magnet School, Long Beach Polytechnical, and Alliance Judy Ivy Burton

Participants in the program, primarily sophomores and juniors, range in skill and writing experience. At the end of the session, interested students have the opportunity to apply to participate in the Summer Playwriting Intensive that takes place on Northwestern’s beautiful campus. Read more about our Summer Playwriting Intensive here.

Educators and students who are interested in having this program at your school can contact Jennifer Avery, Director of NHSI at

This program is funded in part by a generous grant from the JCCC Foundation

“I wanted to say thank you so much for providing this unique experience for me.  I was one of the selected students for Southern California to participate, and I can honestly say that this was one of the best experiences of my life.  I would recommend this program to anyone who is passionate about playwriting.”

“I developed a stronger work ethic and better collaborative skills. I loved the way we were taught and how organically we were able to come up with ideas. I just wanted to continue creating.”

“[T]he staged reading surpassed my expectations and was unlike anything I had experienced before. I don’t think it was an experience I could have found anywhere else…Thank you for a great 2 weeks!”

“The Cherubs program has taught me that success requires hard work and dedication.”