Nurturing and presenting strong voices of courageous Change-makers, who model deep listening, inclusion, and openness of heart.
NewGround: Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change
SPOTLIGHT 2016 Storytelling: TRANSFORMATIONS
We've been on hiatus through rehearsals and performances of The DIG and we are back!!
Meanwhile, a whole different collaborative creative process began around the corner from the Higgins Building, where What's the Story? meets. Last Saturday, at the new Spring Street Community Garden, all sorts of neighbors formed an enormous bucket brigade to move soil from the mounds at one end of the garden into the thirty-odd raised beds. This weekend they finish filling, mixing the soil, and preparing to put in seedlings. I'm looking forward to adding worm casings, which Google informs me, is basically manure. Worm shit. Okay.
I loved that bucket brigade. It reminded me of the days and days I spent digging in the Middle East in 140-degree heat, as part of a small team of students (slaves) to excavate and move dirt from vast areas.
What we do for the sake of art.
I think a lot about collaboration and the need for the other. Ironic, perhaps, since I am known as a writer and performer of solo plays. But I have no idea what I've written until I hear it mirrored back from an audience.
Likewise, I design the workshop so writers hear the response of the group. Constructive, useful response. As the leader, I sit back a little, wait til I get a sense of what the writer is up to. I follow them; I guide them, help them to name the path they have already intuitively chosen.
As many of you know, I spent the better part of 2013 to 2014 working abroad (or working here, on East-Africa time) as the International Creative Director for the 20th commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda. That experience changed my life, obviously. You don't interact with a narrative like that of Rwanda and come away unchanged. Unscathed. More on that in a later post.
Now, a year later, I am mostly grateful, glad to be back home in LA.
I'm in grad school (Antioch MFA - creative writing) and I'm excited about resuming the workshop, seeing who shows up and where it takes us.
Taking buses and trains
We want to make work that matters. To us, to others.
When we're working with personal narrative in any genre, the challenge is to sift through the morass of raw material — our experience — and figure out what we want to say.
I liken the process to archaeology: You dig up a bunch of sand and run it through a sieve. What stays in the bowl of the sieve are shiny beads, shard of pottery. The story lies in those bits.
What's the Story? is a group-process workshop designed to help you sift through the sand, name those shiny bits, and ultimately deepen and universalize your story for a broad audience. Make it our story.
In the workshop, you’ll master a rhythm of constructive, curious and empathic response to the work of your colleagues, and you’ll get really useful response to your own work. As facilitator, I get in there with you, helping to stir things up and get to the core of what is important to you. Help you make it clear why it’s important to all of us.
Most of my work has been for performance. In that realm, I can work with you on how to bring your work to life, how to avoid the pitfalls of the "one-person play,” put the focus on creating a compelling relationship with your audience. Make it fun. Make it deep.
I’m looking to partner with a performance or cabaret space in LA where we can show works-in-progress regularly, invite a friendly audience to the mix. Let me know if you have any ideas about space.
MEMOIR + FICTION
My focus for school is creative non-fiction, where it's clear all personal story rides a rail between fiction (aka making things up) and recollection (aka what happened, or what we think may have happened).
Even in work that is acknowledged as fiction, we’re hoping to express a truth. Some sort of truth. There are times when "what happened" may serve that truth, and there are times when it may not.
The workshop is designed to help you—in any genre—figure out what you have to say, and say it with clarity and authority.
It's your story. It's your truth.
HOW IT WORKS
Use What’s the Story? as a resource or tool at any point in the development of a project. You can come with a full manuscript, a chapter, a few pages, or just an inkling there’s something you might want to say out loud, or write.
For a fee structure, you buy a series of vouchers. It’s like a yoga studio: the more you buy, the less you pay. One voucher gets you a group session, two get you a private. Take a look at the online store for prices.
IN LOS ANGELES
The Downtown workshop meets for weekly group sessions on Tuesday evenings. You read about ten minutes of work, get utterly constructive response to the writing, and we talk about how to move forward, how to dig in. Over the course of time, you build a team of collaborators who have knowledge of and an investment in your work, as you’re invested in theirs.
There’s a monthly workshop at 1450 Ocean in Santa Monica, sponsored by Santa Monica Arts. It’s a good (and economical) way to meet me, get a taste of the process, and see if you think it’s a fit.
You can work with me privately, one-on-one, at any point either of us feels it would be useful. If you have a full manuscript, I’ll do a close read before we start, so I know what you’re up to.
We can work together on FaceTime or Skype. You’re also welcome to phone in, read and get response from the group on Tuesday nights.
Any thoughts or questions, please post as a comment here, or feel free to drop me a note, give me a call.