#likeateenager: Playwriting 101

This weekend I pursued a personal interest of mine: writing.  I’ve wanted to develop all the ideas constantly swirling in my head for plays and ballets but felt I didn’t have the skills or capacity to work it out.  I know how to produce performances but I’m interested in working more conceptually on a story/narrative.  I took a writing seminar last Spring but it was so freeform, it felt more like a loosely assembled support group.  I wanted practice on the constructs of assembling and extrapolating ideas into a cohesive presentation.

I attended a friend’s performance at The Barrow Group space awhile ago.  I researched it post-performance and learned about all their educational offerings.  This fall I finally decided to take advantage of a weekend writing workshop with Arlene Hutton.  Nervous, of course, but excited and desperate to find a way to get some of these ideas out on paper.  Ms. Hutton was a delight – casual but focused – leading us through fun but practical exercises.  She had a delightful way of keeping us on task but still injecting humorous asides about her experiences in “the business.”  We were a group of twelve, including actors, writers, dancers, and teachers.  The immediacy of each exercise caused us to “tap into our sub-conscious” Hutton said.  With no time to think or plan, what came just came out.  But that “stuff” comes from somewhere deep inside of us, and needs a process to transform into a story.

Arlene encouraged us to be patient with ourselves; “A new play is like a teenager; it just needs time to mature and figure things out.”

The two-day sessions stirred up the ideas long simmering beneath the surface and now I feel I’m pointed in a direction with some sense of how to move forward.  Stay tuned for a few “stories” to come!

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