I spent last weekend at the Arizona State Thespian Conference.
The Arizona State Board knows how to treat you like a human being. They’re happy to have exhibitors. They’re happy you’re teaching. They feed you. (Iove that) I’ve been to some conferences where I’ve never met a single member of the Board, no one ever came in my workshop, or by my table, I might as well have not been there. The Arizona folks couldn’t have been nicer.
I taught a ‘Writing Your First Play’ workshop and 50 students trouped through the door. That’s a HUGE number for playwriting. My writing workshops usually bring out low numbers of serious quiet students who slowly drag their notebooks from their bags. They hunch over their work and get a look in their eye when you ask them to read aloud what they’ve written. You always know when you have a room full of writers because they never want to stop writing. I’m soothed by the sound of pens scratching across a page.
It was wonderful to take that sound and multiply it by 50. I ran out of extra pens and paper. I ran out of hand outs. That never happens!
I also taught a couple of workshops focused on moving beyond the first draft. The first class was made up of seven girls. Serious writers. They had all written a play or a screenplay or short stories. They were ready to go. Ready to write. Ready to make their thoughts fly through the air. It was a pleasure to watch them work. At the end of the workshop, every one of them shook my hand and thanked me for the workhshop.
After the second class the next day, a teacher told me sometimes he goes to a workshop and at the end says ‘I get it but my students never will.’ He felt he could take my exercises back to the classroom and use them with the students. That was a huge compliment. I strive to be practical because I always never learned by sitting and listening. I had to DO something.
I love looking out into the crowd and seeing a student unconsciously nod their head at what you’re saying. I get it. I never thought of it that way and I get it. On the other hand, there’s always someone who’s trying to fight to stay awake, depending on how far into the conference it is. Sometimes, they just can’t fight it….