This past weekend I taught workshops at the Ohio State Thespian Festival. It was a new conference for us. I had the workshop co-ordinator in one of my workshops this past fall at the Educational Theatre Association Conference, and she invited me to come.
It’s always an interesting experience going to a new conference. Will it be organized? What will the students be like? What will the teachers be like? Will I get anyone out to my workshops? I primarily teach playwriting workshops and it can be a crap shoot as to the turnout. The writing workshops just don’t have the same cache as improv or stage combat.
And yet, in my small classes magic happens. It’s a place where a shy writer can tentatively enter the room and find others who think like them. That’s an amazing thing to see. It’s a place where an imagination left of centre actually finds encouragement. It’s a place where they can write and write and write, write to the sound of a pen moving across the page, till I have to gently stop them so we can move on to the next exercise. There’s nothing I love more than the sound of a pen scratching on a page.
I had a conversation with the director of a different State Thespian conference awhile ago about numbers in workshops. Particularly, ahem, my workshops.
“Do they learn something?” she asked. Yes I said.
“Do they learn something cool?” she asked. “Something different?” Yes I said.
“Do they get excited about writing?” she asked. Yes I said.
“That’s all I care about.” she said. “I could care less about numbers.”
I had a blast in Ohio. I taught three workshops and in each one, the participants were eager to learn something about the craft of theatre. They took notes. I had a full playwriting class. How exciting is that? It was a thrill, and we’re already making plans to return next year.
Here’s to learning. Here’s to cool. Here’s to different, and exciting…..