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Nov. 4–Dec. 16, 2021. The Art of Storytelling: The Next Chapter is a Course

Nov. 4–Dec. 16, 2021. The Art of Storytelling: The Next Chapter

Time limit: 100 days

Spots remaining: 1

$700 Enroll

Full course description


The Art of Storytelling: The Next Chapter (Six-Week Workshop)

Beau O’Reilly & Jenny Magnus, Instructors



Thursdays on Zoom, November 4–December 16, 2021

Note: Class does not meet on Thanksgiving, November 25

6:30–9:30 p.m. Iowa/Central Time (7:30–10:30 p.m. Eastern; 4:30–7:30 p.m. Pacific; 5:30–8:30 p.m. Mountain)

Fee: $700

Course Description

Storytelling is the most natural of creative forms, whether we are telling family history that 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. Each class will include a writing exercise that generates a story, a reading assignment 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. The goal is to leave our time together with a number of short stories you create in the workshop and rewrite over the course of the six weeks.

Beau welcomes to this class, in a co-teaching role, his 30-year creative partner Jenny Magnus.

Writers will receive weekly feedback from Beau and Jenny on each of their submissions, and Beau/Jenny 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 work from David Sedaris, Annie Proulx, Suzan-Lori Parks, Lydia Davis, the Brothers Grimm, and The New York Times.

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


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.


Jenny Magnus is a writer, performer, composer, musician, director, and teacher who is a founding co-Artistic Director of the Curious Theater Branch, an all-original theater company now in its 33th year. She is the author/creator of plays that have been produced at Steppenwolf Theater, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Athenaeum Theater, Prop Thtr, and on tour throughout America and Europe. She has been teaching at the graduate and undergraduate level for 20 years, at Columbia College Chicago, The School of the Art Institute, University of Illinois, University of Chicago. She holds an MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute. She is sole proprietor of Jenny Magnus Creative Consulting, a facilitation/mentoring/consultation business. Her collection of performative work, Observations of an Orchestrated Catastrophe: 9 Plays and Performances, was published in 2014 by JackLeg Press, and is being reprinted in 2021. Visit Jenny online at:    


Registration & Fees

The fee for this course is $700. 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!