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July 8–29, 2021. The Art of Storytelling with Beau O’Reilly is a Course

July 8–29, 2021. The Art of Storytelling with Beau O’Reilly

Time limit: 60 days

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Full course description



The Art of Storytelling with Beau O’Reilly (Four-Week Workshop)


Thursdays on Zoom, July 8–29, 2021

1:00–4:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time (2:00–5:00 p.m. Eastern; 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Pacific; 12:00–3:00 p.m. Mountain)

Fee: $500

Course Description

Storytelling is the most natural of creative forms, whether we’re telling a family history we wish to hold onto, a well-paced joke that gets the good laughs, a ghost story designed to thrill, or a pure joyful riff from the imagination. We are all storytellers. In this class, we will begin by discussing what makes a good story, looking at some examples in various genres for inspiration. We will write something new in each session, playing with both the spoken story and the written document. The goal is to leave our time together with a number of short stories created in workshop and rewritten over the course of a month.

Class structure and objectives:

The class will meet weekly on Zoom. Each class will include a writing exercise that generates a story, an assignment of something to read that demonstrates a specific type of story, some telling and reading aloud to work on the oral side of storytelling, and a culminating workshop of every participant’s work.

Writers will receive weekly written feedback from Beau on each of their submissions, and Beau will also hold a 30-minute (Zoom or phone) personal conference with each writer. The class sessions will be three hours long, with two fifteen-minute breaks.

By the end of the class, participants will have written or told 4 to 5 new stories, will have sharpened skills for presenting stories aloud, and will have read 4 to 5 published pieces that have expanded their sense of story. The reading list we will draw from includes David Sedaris, Annie Proulx, Suzan-Lori Parks, Lydia Davis, the Brothers Grimm, and Japanese folk tales.

This workshop is for short story writers, oral storytellers, playwrights, and script writers at all levels. The emphasis is on creating new work.


Beau O’Reilly is a curator for the Rhinoceros Theater Festival, a frequent contributor to This American Life, and a professor of playwriting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a co-founder of the Curious Theater Branch (now in its 32nd year), the Crooked Mouth band, and the humbly legendary Maestro Subgum & the Whole. His latest solo album, Thrifty, was released on Uvulittle Records in 2021. The author of over eighty original plays, O’Reilly is also a working actor. O’Reilly has produced, curated, and directed work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Poetry Foundation, Steppenwolf Studio, and Links Hall. He has taught for many years in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and always enjoys coming back to Iowa City.

Registration & Fees

The fee for this course is $500. Payment in full is required to register.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 10.

Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.”

Refund & Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your enrollment in a Festival class, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel two weeks prior to the start of class. After that, before the start date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund tuition once the class has begun.

Terms & Community Policy

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person.



Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.

Our tiny staff is working remotely. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a message!