American playwright Steven Dietz visits Elon

Dietz attended the opening night of "American La Ronde" and taught playwriting masterclass.

Playwright Steven Dietz visited Elon Oct. 5 and 6 to participate in a series of events connected to Elon’s production of “American La Ronde.”

The production marks the first public performances of Dietz’s newly published script, an adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s play Reigen. At Elon, Dietz participated in a post-show discussion about his play, gave a public lecture about the life of a playwright in the American theatre, and offered a playwriting masterclass for Elon students.

Dietz discussed “American La Ronde” with director Kevin Otos, cast and crew members, and the audience immediately after the performance on Oct. 5. He explained that while Schnitzler’s play was transgressive for its depictions of sexual behavior on stage, the transgression in “American La Ronde” comes from characters being honest and truthful, which can be unusual and unnerving in today’s hyper-performative mediatized world. 

Dietz also gave a masterclass in playwriting to students majoring in drama & theatre studies, English, acting, and cinema & television on Oct. 6. He described the importance of “turns,” or moments of change, in a script, and guided the students through some playwriting exercises. Later that day he spoke publicly about his life in the theater and took questions from students, faculty and parents visiting for Family Weekend. 

Dietz is one of America’s most-produced playwrights and is the author of more than 30 plays and adaptations. He is professor of playwriting and directing at the University of Texas at Austin. His visit to Elon University was sponsored by the Fund for Excellence, the Department of English, the Department of Performing Arts, and organized by the Drama & Theatre Studies program.

“American La Ronde” continues through Oct. 11 at the Roberts Studio Theatre.