Students are provided instruction in diverse writing genres including fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, drama, and screenwriting. Collaborative learning is a critical piece of the success of this program. Using the tools they have learned in Gifted Arts and in school, writers are expected to provide specific constructive feedback and criticism. The focus is on positive, thoughtful, and informative analysis of writing. The environment is designed to be stimulating, inspiring, and fun.

Where: Classes are held at the Webster Christian Church located at Lockwood and Berry Road in Webster Groves and at the Gaslight Theater located at 360 N. Boyle Avenue in the Central West End.

When: 6pm-9pm Tuesdays (Two*Monday classes are also on the schedule).
Aug. 22•Sep. 12•Sep. 26•Oct. 10•Oct. 24•*Oct. 30•Nov. 14•Nov. 28•*Dec. 4•Dec. 12•Jan. 9•Jan. 23•
Feb. 6•Feb. 20•Mar. 6•Mar. 27•Apr. 3•Apr. 17•May 1

Cost $300 for 9 classes and $550 for 18 classes.

Fiction…..Students learn about the basic elements of fiction: plot, character, setting, and theme with a particular focus on conflict development, voice, point-of-view, and dialogue. Then…they plug it all into their own writing.

Poetry…..Students learn poetry terms and write narrative, free verse, and formal poetry including sestina, sonnet, villanelle, and other forms.

Creative Nonfiction…..The most popular form of literature outselling fiction 10:1. This genre is all about writing a real story using fictive elements like conflict, setting, dialogue, developed characters, and a plotline.

Drama…..Just like any story, a play must have a beginning, middle & end. Students work on a one-act play and are taught the nine elements of playwriting including— dramatic conflict, strategies for dealing with the conflict, logical behavior, cause & effect, plot obstacles, forward action, developed character arc, and theatricality.

Screenwriting…..Students will learn elements of dramatic structure and character development. They are taught the six elements in a screenplay: scene heading, action, character, parenthetical, dialogue and transition. *I encourage everyone to download Celtyx, free online screenwriting and playwriting software that automatically formats the written work.

Co-Teacher, Katie Rogers

Katie Rodgers has co-taught the high school class for the past two years. She also teaches in St. Louis City. Katie doubles down as a yoga teacher and is a former middle school ELA and math teacher. She attended the University of Minnesota earning a B.A. in art history and National-Louis University earning a M.Ed in special education. She writes on mindfulness and yoga philosophy and practice in daily life.

Guest Artists for 2017-2018

George Hodgman is the New York Times best selling author of Bettyville, an incredibly funny and poignant memoir about the author leaving New York City, where he was an editor at Vanity Fair, and coming back to the small Missouri town where he grew up to care for his aging mother. Check out more at

I am a native of small town Missouri, having grown up in two little places—Madison (population 528) and Paris (population 1,248).  I loved these towns, the characters who inhabited them, and all the stories that a nosy kid like me could manage to eavesdrop on. All my life, the people in these places have stayed in my head, rattling around, chatting, and causing trouble in what was already a noisy place.

Always indecisive and rarely practical, I graduated from University of Missouri in Columbia with a double major in English and Magazine Journalism in 1981. I had wanted to be a reporter but decided that I lacked the chutzpah to call on the grieving wives of murder victims and other sufferers of tragedy and disaster. For a brief time, I believed that I should become an English professor, a notion not shared by anyone in the American Academic community. In 1983, after considerable warfare with the card catalog and near fatal run-ins with the irritable microfiche system, I left Boston College with a Master’s Degree and little interest in further education.

I moved to New York, settling in Brooklyn before it was fashionable. Way before. I went through a series of low-paying jobs and wandered the streets endlessly, on the verge of poverty and convinced that my great genius would forever go unrecognized. (This has turned out to be true.) I wanted to be a writer, but lacked much experience to write about and turned to book publishing where, at Simon and Schuster, I began to hone my skills in that arena by composing flap copy. Most of the time, I was burdened by my own need to—instead of selling the book—put forward my own critical opinions about it. Before I could be booted from this position, I made one friend, a powerful editor who seemed to see in me both pathos and some sort of possibility. I became her assistant editor, relishing the opportunity to work on books with authors who, for the most part, had little interest in my opinions. Still, I managed to work on a lot of interesting books by writers I will never forget: Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters, his magnificent saga of the Civil Rights Movement; Den of Thieves by James Stewart, still one of the  great Wall Street corruption yarns. Gradually, I began to acquire and edit my own books. Chief among them was My Own Country by Abraham Verghese, which told the story of a young doctor, new to the South, confronting AIDS in a territory where the disease was seen as a biblical scourge. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to be involved in that book.

After six years at Simon and Schuster, I became an editor at Vanity Fair, where I worked with amazing reporters (Gail Sheehy, Buzz Bissinger, Leslie Bennetts, Judy Bachrach, Peter Biskind, Kim Masters) and other writers such as Sylvia Nasar, whose books I serialized for the magazine. The high point of my time at V.F. was working on Nasar’s A Beautiful Mind, an article based on the book that became the Academy Award-winning film. On another front, I worked with Madonna on her diaries which appeared in the magazine around the time she did Evita. Those who wish to have further detail on that experience may contact me privately.

After six years at V.F., I returned to books, first at Henry Holt and then at Houghton Mifflin. My proudest accomplishments during those years were working on Kevin Boyle’s Arc of Justice, which won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and two books by the late Anthony Shadid, perhaps the greatest foreign correspondent of his generation: Night Draws Near and House of Stone. I miss Anthony, who died in Syria in 2012, a great deal and consider him, in many ways, the godfather of Bettyville, a book that I truly hope you will find funny and moving.

Alicia LaChance is one of the most acclaimed abstract painters on the scene today. She has work in galleries and private collections all over the world. What follows is from a feature article about Alicia in St. Louis Magazine.

The white “Coolaire Co.” sign has faded into the redbrick, and the stern little square building on Hodiamont looks like a home for industrial ghosts. Then the gate swings open, and Alicia LaChance invites you in the back way—to a skylit, color-splashed studio. Walls of shelves hold paint cans, books, and a bright “boneyard” of mistakes she’ll rework.

LaChance learned years ago to free up, experiment, hold herself only to her own standards. Originally a fashion designer, she painted landscapes from old English auction catalogs, using art as a way to stay home with her daughter and twin sons. “That wasn’t really getting me anywhere,” she says, “although I loved painting them.” So she loosened up, found her own, fresher language—and had an instant audience.

The turning point was a big canvas she’d work on in the studio “then strap it to the top of my car, take it home, put it on the living room floor, and study it. I was obsessed. When that painting was done, I felt like I had finally made something that was truly my own.”

Eight years ago, LaChance found this building. It’s owned by Pat and Carol Schuchard, who are reviving Bevo Mill, and it gives her even more room to play.

On one table is the brilliantly colored foundation of Walking City, commissioned by a client in London. “It’s a maximalist piece,” she explains. “I’ll wind up creating three paintings that read through each other.” At the moment it’s a patchwork of glimpsed nature and architectural texture, with flower blossoms exploding like firecrackers.

On the studio’s opposite end waits one of the largest flatbed lithographic presses in the country—“a first-edition Peter Marcus,” she bubbles. She rented an engine hoist and inveigled her sons’ help to move the 2-ton press to her studio, where she scrubbed away the rust.

“I always fascinate over old theater and wine posters,” she says. “I love the idea of doing something of that old-world quality in a 21st-century design language.” She also wants to print work by artists represented at her Maplewood gallery, Hoffman LaChance Contemporary.

“They’re the real deal,” she says. “They’ll come and live in the gallery for a week,” prepping an exhibit. “You walk in and you can smell the sweat and the wet paint. It’s not as polished as other places, but it’s been a touchstone.”

LaChance has work hanging in Asia and Russia; she researched sacred geometry and created 15 huge mandala-esque paintings for a five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi. Lately she’s been painting luminous panels of color, trying to get the paint to behave in new ways, and “projecting light through different parabolic structures, trying to throw color without any canvas at all.” Her goal is to create works of art that—like a cool workspace—“are meant to be experienced, not possessed.”

Michael James Reed has been working on stage and screen for over 30 years. A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Michael’s work in New York included the original Broadway production of La Bete as well as Edgar in King Lear starring Hal Holbrooke at the Roundabout Theater. Other NY credits included the title role in Eric Overymyer’s adaption of Amphitryon at the Classic Stage Company and numerous shows with the Pearl Theatre Company.

Regionally, he has played leading roles at some of the most acclaimed theatres in the country, including Marc Antony in Julius Caesar at the Old Globe (directed by Daniel Sullivan), Pericles in Pericles at the Old Globe (directed by Darko Tresnjak), Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at ACT in San Francisco, and Joe Pitt in Angels in America at Houston’s Alley Theatre.

In London, Michael appeared in the famous production of Richard III staring Antony Sher with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In Los Angeles, Michael has appeared on countless television shows including 24, JAG, Six Feet Under, King of Queens, That 70s Show, The Shield, Silk Stalkings, So Notorious, Method and Red, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He also appeared in the acclaimed British film, The Dressmaker. Since 2010, he is a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, and continues a very active theater and local television career.



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