Students are given instruction in various writing formats including fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and drama. The focus is on positive, thoughtful, and informative analysis of writing.




We employ engaging writing prompts to help spark the flow of expression within specific time frames. The goal is to turn off the inner editor to get ideas and thoughts down as spontaneously as possible. Writing instructors and students (usually a 1:8 ratio or smaller) provide constructive feedback to help guide revision. The environment is designed to be stimulating, inspiring, and fun.



When 6:00-8:30 Tuesdays (Several *Mondays & **Wednesdays are also on the calendar)
*Aug. 28•Sep. 5•**Sep. 27•**Oct. 11•Oct. 17•**Oct. 25•Nov. 7•*Nov. 27•Dec. 5•Dec. 11•Jan. 16•
Jan. 30•Feb. 13•Feb. 27•Mar. 13•**Mar. 28•Apr. 10•Apr. 24•May 8

Where Webster Christian Church and The Gaslight Theater

Cost $300 for 9 classes and  $550 for 18 classes (see Deep Dive)

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.

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.

Guest Artists for 2017-2018

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 red brick, 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 starring 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.

Intern for the 2017-18 Session

Lily Ibur is a 2015 graduate of Clayton High School. She performs in a band with her sister called Bella & Lily and after signing a management deal in 2016 decided to pursue a career in music. In addition to working as a singer/songwriter, Lily was a student in Gifted Arts for six years and has worked as an intern for two years. She and her sister, Bella, have performed and worked with producers in Nashville, Boulder, New York, and Los Angeles. You can check them out at or on Facebook under

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