Writer’s Workshop

The Writers Workshop at City Garage

Stage – Screen – Fiction

We tell stories.

It’s how we understand the world. How we understand each other. How we understand ourselves.

What story do you want to tell?

Are you working on a play and want to hear your words onstage? Are you looking to refine your one-person show and find out what works and what doesn’t? Are you stuck in the middle of act 2 of your screenplay and not sure how to move forward? Have you always wanted to write a novel or a short story but aren’t sure where to start?

Writing, all writing, is a lonely business. You and the blank page. You and an empty room where you work to create vivid characters and a compelling story, something that moves us, excites us, or gives us a delightful escape, no matter wild the fantasy, or comic or absurd the journey.

All writing, no matter the form—play, screenplay, television script, one-person show, comedy or tragedy, short story or novel—is always about one thing:

Story.

And story is about the most essential thing of all:

Character.

The two inform each other. The two drive each other. Character is who you are. Fate is what you’re stuck with. Destiny is what you do about it. Story is the result.

No matter what you’re working on right now, no matter what your ambition, your work must tell a compelling story.

Join us in the Writers Workshop at City Garage to tell yours.

The goal of the workshop is not to teach, but to explore. Helping you moving forward on a journey of your own. By interacting with other writers. By hearing your work live onstage. By asking yourself objective questions.

Sometimes you can get lost in your own head. In the intimate, focused, collaborative environment of the Writers Workshop at City Garage you can get direct, positive feedback and guidance, helping you get where you want to get.

The Process:
The workshop is led by Charles A. Duncombe, an award-winning writer and theatre-maker with nearly four decades of experience in stage, television, and screenwriting.

What You Get Each Week:
• Comments and feedback on your most recent pages;
• Discussion of a specific aspect of story, character, structure, form, or the writing process itself to help you on your journey;
• Assignments and exercise to help you break down blocks, overcome obstacles, expand your thinking, and discover aspects of your work—and yourself as a writer—that might surprise you.

What You Get Each Quarter:
• After you’ve participated in eight sessions, you’re eligible to be part of a public reading at City Garage held four times a year at which a selection of your work in progress is read by actors—actors in the company at City Garage or those you find, provide, or are acquainted with yourself—for an invited audience of your friends, family, supporters, industry folks, or potential backers.

The Practical Stuff:

When?
The Writers Workshop at City Garage meets from 10:00am to Noon the first four Saturdays of each month. (Some schedule adjustments for holiday weekends; a two week break for Christmas).

Is this in-person or remote?
The group session is in-person. Private sessions can be done remotely.

Where?
City Garage is at Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica.

How Much?
$200 a month, paid in advance (minimum two-month commitment; monthly afterwards).

Why two months?
Commitment. We want you to commit to yourself and to the process. Writing takes patience and time. No room for quitters.

When are the Public Readings?
At the end of each quarter on either a Thursday or Sunday evening.

Are Private Sessions Available?
Yes. Write to Charles for scheduling and hourly rates (see below).

Can I have a Public Reading Dedicated just to my own Work?
Yes. You might want to have your entire play, screenplay, or one-person show presented to friends, family, potential backers or investors. We can help with that. Contact Charles for details, cost, and scheduling.

Is a Remote Session Possible?
If you are not in LA or, because of your schedule, working remotely is the best option for you, write to Charles to discuss individual, remote sessions.

Questions, Further Information: charles@citygarage.org

Ready to sign up?
Writers are welcome to join throughout the year. If you’re ready to go, email Charles at charles@citygarage.org. He’ll ask for a writing sample, a description of the project you want to work on, and a little bit about what you would like to get out of the process. If it feels like a good fit, we’ll give you a link for your first payment, and when you can start with us.


About Charles A. Duncombe

Charles is a writer, director, producer, and designer. He has worked for nearly four decades in stage, television, and film. He is the Executive Director of City Garage in Los Angeles, which has been producing innovative contemporary drama for more than 35 years.
He has been nominated numerous times for LA Weekly Theatre Awards for his stage adaptations, including MedeaText: Los Angeles/Despoiled Shore (2000); Frederick of Prussia/GeorgeW’s Dream of Sleep (2001); The Mission (Accomplished) (2009); The Trojan Women; LA/Darfur Dreamscape (2010). His translations/adaptations (with Fréderique Michel) of The Marriage of Figaro and The School For Wives received nominations for Best Translation (Marriage won). His play Atrocities (2000) was a “Pick of the Week” in the LA Weekly and his play Patriot Act (2004) won the Fratti/Newman Award for Political Playwriting and opened in New York at the Castillo Theater as part of their 2008 season. His adaptation of Müller, Hamletmachine: The Arab Spring (2015), was nominated by Stage Raw for Best Adaptation. His recent plays as a writer at City Garage are Caged (2013), Bulgakov/Moliere (2014), Timepiece (2015), Othello/Desdemona (2016), Phoebe Zeitgeist Returns to Earth (2016), Beach People (2022), which received four Robbie Awards and two Stanny Awards, and #Measure4Measure (“Top Ten,” Stage Raw). In New York in 2004, he and Michel received an “Otto,” a national award for political theatre, honored alongside Robert Wilson, El Teatro Campesino, and Charles L. Mee. His and Michel’s work with Fassbinder texts has been featured in two German documentaries: Fassbinder in Hollywood, and Fassbinder: Love, Life, and Celluloid. Three of their Heiner Müller productions have been discussed in the book Müller in America published in New York in 2003. In 2009, he and Michel and won the LA Weekly’s “Queen of the Angels” award for “decades of directing and producing scintillating, politically charged theater that challenges audiences to reconsider their assumptions about the nature of politics and the nature of theater itself.” In 2011 they won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award for “Sustained Excellence in Theatre.” An article in the Los Angeles Times in 2018 described their company as “A long-time presenter of European avant-garde theatre, City Garage specializes in provocative, challenging material that would rarely be attempted elsewhere in LA.” In 2023, Michel and Duncombe received Stage Raw’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Throughout those years of theater-making, Charles has also worked in television and film as a writer and producer, doing commercials, low-budget films, music videos, and documentaries, among which was Frank Capra’s American Dream (Primetime Emmy nomination; ACE Award) as well as network specials for Fox, ABC, and CBS, and NBC. He has worked as an Executive Producer/Showrunner on network game shows and pilots (sadly, not picked up), way too much reality television (sadly, picked up) and sat through endless development meetings, pitch meetings, and note meetings with senior executives at the networks and studios (time he will never get back again). He has also written a dozen screenplays, one as a work-for-hire and two that are currently under option with independent producers. He is a member of the WGA.



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