Readers write in with two different points of view on the MFA and its rather blunt instrument, the writing workshop. First, a quarrel with my cynicism:
As a veteran of a famed MFA program in theatre directing and several playwriting workshops, I must take issue with your complaint against MFA programs. Granted, some of the craft “rules” taught there are arbitrary, based on the instructor’s whim (for example, one of my favorite playwriting teachers hated all plays set at Thanksgiving). But such “rules” are made to be broken when the artist does so for an effective artistic reason. The point is, master the form first, then learn how to bend it to your own ends.
I can’t tell you the number of scripts I’ve read in which the writer can’t begin to tell a cohesive story, or plants obvious and sloppy exposition (often having people who have known each other all their lives suddenly rehash background information they both know), or fills the script with clich