Adult Classes

Taught by a diverse pool of talented professionals from throughout the region and beyond, our Adult Classes provide recurring opportunities for anyone interested in learning more about the living stage and other storytelling art forms.

Upcoming Classes

Playwriting: The Dramatist's Toolbox

Designed as an intro for the beginner or as a brush-up for the seasoned writer, this course focuses heavily on tools that will spark ideas on both what to write and how to write.  Writer's block will never again be an excuse as numerous prompts and brainstorming exercises get introduced to keep the ideas flowing.  Each writer will end this course with a minimum of two, ten-minute plays.  They will also walk out with a notebook of exercises for future reference. This four-part course is lead by our resident teaching artist and award-winning playwright Matthew B. Zrebski.

January 20, 27, February 3, 10

10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.


Improvisation: Building Blocks

Grow beyond, “Yes, and…”  and build toward playful and daring improvised choices onstage. Learn to dive into scenarios without planning, and build hilarious scenes together. Heighten the best of your experience, and develop new tools for launching improv scenes from the very first line. This one-time only class is taught by master improviser and educator Nicholas Kessler. 

January 29

6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Purchase online here!

Tapping Into The Subconscious Using Borrowed Text

Get out of your head and tap into what's simmering under the surface using found or overheard conversation. Kodachrome playwright Adam Szymkowicz believes playwrights select material from the world around them and from the tides within them. Bring to class a brief conversation you've overheard and Szymkowicz will show you how to generate characters, scenes and drama using conversation.

February 10

2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Purchase online here!

Playwriting: The Full Length

Great plays need to strike hard, fast, and powerfully, never letting an audience off the hook.   Exploring both no-intermission and multi-act formats, this intensive introduces exciting techniques that help to quickly engage an audience, successfully build to a satisfying climax, and conclude so as to spark dialogue long after the curtain has fallen.  By the end of class, students will have a strong outline as well as two to three fully written scenes.  They will leave ready and confident to complete a full draft. This four-part course is lead by our resident teaching artist and award-winning playwright Matthew B. Zrebski.

February 17, 24, March 3, 10

10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

   Purchase online here!

Improvisation: Safe, Strong Scenes

 Trust is essential for improvisers to develop. Strong, honest scene work comes from suspending judgment and playing person-forward characters in equitable and positive ways. Learn to navigate the boundaries of improvisation, and know when a scene needs to be rescued or retired. This one-time only class is taught by master improviser and educator Nicholas Kessler. 

February 26 

 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Purchase online here! 

Directing Workshop

Directors take the reigns of a play and drive it from the script to the stage. Learn how to craft your vision and tips for working with actors and designers throughout the process. Rose Riordan, The Armory's Associate Artistic Director, will bring her years of experience running audition rooms and staging everything from world premieres to time-honored classic plays. 

Saturday March 3 

6:00 - 10:00 p.m.

 Purchase online here!


Sunday March 4

6:00 - 10:00 p.m.

 Purchase online here! 

Film and Darkroom Printing Workshop 

In celebration of Kodachrome and all things film, learn to print in a darkroom and make film portraits in a special workshop with The Portland Darkroom. Each workshop attendee will have the chance to take a portrait, have a portrait taken of them, learn how darkroom enlarging works, and create their very own "The Armory" branded gelatin silver postcard to take home. 

March 10    

1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Purchase online here!

NOTE: This workshop will be at The Portland Darkroom's facilities
North Coast Seed Building
2127 N. Albina Ave #313
Portland, OR 97227

Improvisation: Connected Characters

Too often characters slip toward caricature, become hammy, and disconnected. A balance of commitment and awareness keep good improvisers from running away with a character. Learn to play exciting and dynamic characters honestly. This one-time only class is taught by master improviser and educator Nicholas Kessler. 

March 26    

6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Purchase online here!

Playwriting: Techniques for the Specialist

This intensive will dive deep into areas of playwriting that require special skills for a particular piece.  How does one adapt a story from a non-theatrical medium?  How does one approach writing the book of a musical as well as lyrics?  How does one approach the one-person show?  How does a playwright collaborate on a devised piece?  Specific frameworks will be offered to assist in tackling the unique challenges of these less traditional forms of playwriting.  Students will have opportunities to choose one or multiple projects and share work for both peer and instructor critique. This four-part course is lead by our resident teaching artist and award-winning playwright Matthew B. Zrebski.

April 21, 28, May 5, 12 

10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

   Purchase online here!

Meet the Instructors

Matthew B. Zrebski (Playwriting) is a founding member of Playwrights West and has had numerous original plays produced locally and nationally. As Portland Center Stage’s Resident Teaching Artist, Matt serves as lead instructor for the Visions & Voices high school residency program and frequently leads adult playwriting workshops. He is a two-time recipient of the Rosenfield Playwriting award and has won Drammy Awards for his scripts To Cape and Ablaze: an a cappella musical thriller. He has been a guest instructor for Portland Actors Conservatory and Literary Arts' Writers in the Schools program. He holds a BFA in Acting, Directing, and Playwriting from Southern Methodist University.
Nicholas Kessler (Improvisation) As seen on The Librarians, Grimm, Portlandia, and (web) Benefits of Gusbandry, Kessler improvises on The Siren theater house team, The Liberators, and Leviathan. He also acts as host of OPB’s The Moth StorySLAM live storytelling show. Alongside his performing chops, Kessler has 18 years teaching and training improvisation, is the Lead Educator at Portland Center Stage, and the Special Communications Consultant for Intel, Kaiser Permanente, and the Hillsboro Police Department. 
Adam Szymkowicz (Found Text) was a featured playwright at The Armory’s JAW: A Playwrights Festival, served twice as playwright in residence at the William Inge Center, and took part in The Dramatists Guild Fund’s Traveling Masters program. He received a Playwright’s Diploma from The Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program and an M.F.A. from Columbia University, where he was a Dean’s Fellow. He is a two-time Lecomte du Nouy Prize winner, a member of the Dramatists Guild and Writer’s Guild of America, and was a member of Primary Stages’ Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group, the MCC Theater Playwrights’ Coalition, and the first Ars Nova Play Group.
Rose Riordan (Directing) is in her 18th season at Portland Center Stage, where she serves as Associate Artistic Director. At The Armory she has directed Our TownThe People’s Republic of Portland (2013 and 2015), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and SpikeThe Typographer’s DreamLIZZIEA Small FireThe MountaintopThe Whipping ManThe North PlanRedOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestA Christmas StoryThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling BeeThe ReceptionistA Christmas CarolFrost/NixonHow to Disappear Completely and Never Be FoundDoubtThe UnderpantsThe Pillowman and The Thugs, which won four Drammy Awards, including Best Ensemble and Best Director. Rose has also directed some of the staged readings for JAW festivals: The Thugs (2005), Telethon (2006), A Story About a Girl (2007), 99 Ways to F*** a Swan (2009), The North Plan (2010), San Diego (2012), The People’s Republic of Portland (2012), Mai Dang Lao (2013) and A Life (2014).

What Other People Are Saying...

"The feeling of being creative in a safe environment: Matt did that perfectly, he has a great sense of humor and excellent student rapport. Whether we were experienced or not, it felt like the needs of each students' level could be met. It was nice to focus on playwriting in a space that produces players and sponsors and nourishes creativity. It’s energy is in the walls!" - Playwriting Toolbox Participant


What to Bring

Class participants will receive a welcome/introductory email the Wednesday before their class providing specific details of what to bring to class. Class participants are always welcome to bring bottled water, and coffee or other beverages with a lid are also permitted. Please ensure cell phones and other noise-making devises are placed on "Silent Mode" or Off during class hours. There is no need to bring a printed copy of your ticket. 

Refunds and Exchange Policy

The Armory does not offer refunds on purchased class registrations; all sales are final. Class exchanges can be made within 24 hour notice prior to the first class meeting. In rare circumstances when a class may be cancelled (due to extreme weather, artist absence or other unavoidable situations) we will offer refunds or replacement registration for a future class.

Click here to Learn more about our weather policy.

Arts for All

The Armory is proud to participate in Portland's Arts for All program. This means those Oregonians receiving SNAP benefits or with an Oregon Trail Card can receive discounted tickets to Community Events and Classes, available in person at the Box Office. Please have your Oregon Trail Card with you at time of purchase. 

Getting Here

The Armory is located at 128 NW Eleventh Avenue in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon. We’re exactly one block north of Powell’s Books, between Couch and Davis.

  • Bus: The Armory is located in the heart of the Pearl District on NW Eleventh Avenue and Davis Street, just a short walk from most bus lines.
  • MAX: From the eastbound train, get off at the 9th Avenue/Library stop. From the westbound train, get off at the Tenth Avenue/SW Morrison Street stop. Walk to Tenth Avenue and turn right, follow Tenth Avenue to Davis (approx. 6 blocks) and turn right to corner of Eleventh Avenue or Walk to corner of Tenth and Yamhill and board the Portland Streetcar, get off at Couch Street stop and walk to corner of Eleventh Avenue and Davis Street.
  • Streetcar: The Armory is also conveniently located directly on the streetcar line. The Portland Streetcar runs on Tenth Avenue (to NW 23rd) and on Eleventh Avenue (to Portland State University) and stops on the corner of NW Couch Street respectively. The entrance to The Armory is on the corner of NW Eleventh and Davis (one block north of Couch).

For complete transit directions from your location use the trip planner at


The Armory is committed to making our facilities accessible to all of our patrons. For specific program questions and ticket information, or if you need assistance, please contact the Education Department at 503-445-3795 or email us at


The Pearl features 2-hour metered on-street parking around The Armory, from 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1 p.m. - 7 p.m. on Sunday.  

For a parking garage, we recommend The Brewery Blocks/Whole Foods Underground Parking Garage. It is the largest lot in Portland and it is located one block from The Armory. It’s a well-lit, security-patrolled underground garage that houses 1,300 parking spaces. There are two entrances to this lot: NW Twelfth Avenue or NW Thirteenth Avenue, between Couch and Davis Streets. The elevators take you into the M Financial Building lobby (just around the corner from the Armory) or into Whole Foods on the corner of Couch and NW Twelfth Avenue.

Other questions? 

 If you have any additional concerns or questions, please contact the Education Department at 503-445-3795 or email us at



Astoria: Part One
Jan 13 – Feb 17

Astoria: Part Two
Jan 20 – Feb 18
Feb 3 – Mar 18

Season Sponsors


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