Wonderland Book Club 3

Challenged and Challenging Female Protagonists

Tuesdays September 28th – December 21st

online at 17.00-19.30

(0.00 Greenwich Meantime)


The Wonderland Theatre Book Club is a lively Book Club for writers and artists who want to ignite their craft by reading important plays together.

Each fortnight we will analyse the playwrighting and stagecraft of a great play from Ancient Greece to the Modern Stage. At the first Book Club we study 4-8 scenes together so as to identify what we can learn from this playwright for our own writing today. Then at the second Book Club of the fortnight, we share the short works we have written in response to this play with our peers.

Led by Director, Dramaturg and Playwright Alice Coghlan and inspired by her twelve years as an Abbey Theatre Literary Reader, Wonderland Theatre Book Club meets a primary need for emerging artists – to hone and expand your understanding of your craft by studying important plays in the creative company of your peers.

Course Outline

Playwrighting is a craft, a craft that be understood as a sum of its parts. That is why a playwright is a wright, a craftsperson, one who has learned to build or to craft for the stage through language and words.

Over the course of seven plays, and one acting handbook over thirteen weeks, via Zoom, we will learn how and why the earlier playwrights wrote the great plays that they did, and explore how we can apply our understanding of their craft to our own ‘wrighting’ today?

For the first week of each fortnight, the Playwright’s Club starts with a Play Appreciation of this fortnight’s play by Wonderland’s Artistic Director, Theatre and Opera Director, Dramaturg and Playwright Alice Coghlan, with a focus on this play’s historical context, its writing, its form and its stage craft. This Appreciation is followed by a lively analysis of key scenes of the play, illustrated by online recordings or readings.

We might for instance discuss why this week’s playwright wrote this story, in this form, at this moment in time? Who commissioned them? What were the theatrical buildings or ceremonial settings they wrote for? What theatrical resources did they have or not have? How did they tell their tale through music, sound, light and narrative design? Who were they writing for? Who were their players? Who were their audiences? Who were their collaborators? Why and how did they innovate? How did they martial narrative, structure, character, theatricality, genre, language and design to such a glorious end? And most importantly just what can this playwright teach a writer ‘wrighting’ today?

As our Club is very practical in intention, the second week of the fortnight, is devoted to  ‘screen sharing’ up to three pages of your creative responses to the previous Club’s playwright. For instance you might start to write a short break out scene from the play, much as an emerging artist might copy an old Master in a Gallery or an actor might improvise around a text in rehearsals to deepen their understanding of it. Or a designer might choose to share sketches or visuals with the Book Club, a composer music, an actor a monologue, a dancer some choreography, a director a director’s vision, a producer a project proposal and so on. You will then benefit from feedback from your peer and professional feedback.

The final part of the Club will be for fun and free questions and conversation about the play, the playwright and what she or he has inspired in our own work for today. May we share many epiphanies together!

For the foreseeable future, we will be meeting online. This means the Club can continue to facilitate the international nature of its work, with has so far included writers and directors from both the Republic and Northern Ireland but also from the Netherlands, England, Germany, Ecuador and the USA.

This autumn now the theatres are open again, it would be lovely to meet to go to the theatre together in Dublin for some Saturday matinees and then to go to the pub afterwards to chat all about it. For instance we are hoping to see Marina Carr’s new play together. The idea of the matinee slot, is that it’s family friendly for all of us who need to get home for our children’s bedtime. It also facilitates members who might be travelling up to Dublin from far away for the day, and who need to have time to catch the train or even the plane home.

Course Outcome

The emerging artist will be equipped with new and exciting tools and techniques for their playwrighting and a deeper understanding of theatricality. They will have more confidence as to how to plot, structure and stage the stories they aspire to tell. Best of all they will have seven new creative works inspired by great artists which they can develop into new plays. They will also be in the habit of writing every week,  be confident of their ability to write to a brief, and will have surprised themselves with just how exciting their ideas can be!

Feedback on Wonderland Theatre Book Clubs One and Two

I have attended a number of Alice’s courses (Techniques of Adaptation,  as well as her ongoing Wonderland Theatre Book Club). Alice is enthusiastic, professional and extremely generous in imparting her seemingly limitless knowledge of the  world of  theatre in a fun and interesting way. I would not have considered play writing without her expert advice and encouragement.  With the help of the Book Club I’ve completed my first draft of my Spanish Armada epic on which I have already engaged Alice to work as my Mentor. Thank you Alice!

Lesley-Ann Hogan Co Meath

The Wonderland Theatre Book Club has regularly been a highlight of my week. We read a wide range of plays, and I’ve loved the close analysis of the texts we do as a group. Alice’s practical reading of the texts has been invaluable to my craft, deepening my understanding of playwriting and theatre making. The exercises which Alice sets really challenge my writing skills and have spurred on whole new projects for me. The group is both supportive and creatively exciting; I couldn’t recommend it enough to other writers and artists.

Laura Morgan Belfast

The Wonderland Theatre Book Club has proven to be a huge help to me in my writing. The group is very inspirational and the material we look at is stimulating and informative. I have looked at so many aspects of our craft. This   is so important as ideas are nothing without a  good bedrock. Alice has years of theatre experience and thus she is a huge asset to us writers – enabling us to view playwrighting from the other side, the director and audience perspective.  The club always has how to communicate effectively with an audience in mind. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough for anyone interested in working and writing in theatre.

Tara Maria Lovett Co Cavan.  

Course Content

The theme of challenging and challenged female protagonists is a great one and has emerged from the shared interests of the playwrights who took part in our first two Wonderland Theatre Book Clubs.

Tuesday September 28th

Medea by Euripides

Tuesday October 5th

Writer and artists’ share their creative responses to Medea

Tuesday October 12th

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare


Tuesday October 19th

The Art of the Actor by Jean Benedetti

The essential history of acting, from classical times to the present day.

A week off play reading and writing to consider the contribution of the playwright’s most important collaborator, through whom your writing comes to life – the actor.

Tuesday October 26th

Writer and artists’ share their creative responses to The Taming of the Shrew

Tuesday November 2nd ]

The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster

Tuesday November 9th

Writer and artists’ share their creative responses to The Duchess of Malfi


Tuesday November 16th

Miss Julie by Augustus Strindberg

Tuesday November 23rd

Writer and artists’ share their creative responses to Miss Julie


Tuesday November 30th

By the Bog of Cats by Marina Carr

Tuesday November 7th

Writers and artists’ share their creative responses to By the Bog of Cats


Tuesday December 14th

All that Fall by Samuel Beckett

Tuesday December 21st

Happy Days by Samuel Beckett

Writers and artists share their creative responses to both All that Fall and Happy Days. For happy days it will be Christmas time!


Loyalty E195

Available to returning Wonderland Theatre Book Club members and to playwrights whom Alice has worked with as a Dramaturg or Playwrighting Mentor before.

New Members E260



As a thank you for any new member or existing member who introduces a new member to the group a E30 credit will be offered off the next Book Club, for each member they invite.


Please pay Wonderland Productions via bank transfer. Should you like to join the Book Club please send an email telling her about you and your work to alice@wonderlandtheatre.com . For obvious security reasons bank details are not on this brochure.