On Saturday, March 31, I participated in the annual “Scribes & Troubadours” event at the Ridgefield Library. S & T is organized by the local writers guild, & features authors and musicians sharing their work for an evening. Every year they have a theme, and this year’s was loosely tied to the idea of travel, so my friend and fellow MFAer Adele Anessi invited me to read the opening section of CARRY-ON, which takes place on board an airplane.
I was scheduled as the final reader/performer of the evening, which was quite a privilege, but also daunting after so many talented people had done their thing. These included a winner of the “Bad Hemingway” contest sharing a fall-down funny parody of Papa’s style, a moving memoir piece about traveling in Chile in the 80s, and an excerpt from Adele’s wonderful novel-in-progress.
I felt quite comfortable, despite all this, because I’ve read so often at the library, and it feels like home to me. Plus the crowd was warm and generous. I only read 3 pages, but it worked out perfectly, and I ended up selling 5 books to complete strangers–always a joy.
Earlier that same day I had a very different but equally great experience. I’d been recruited to teach a playwriting workshop to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from the local public schools. There were 3 workshop sessions, with 3 different groups of 13-15 kids, each session lasting just 75 minutes. I went in there completely unsure of myself, never having taught kids that young, & never having taught playwriting. But the children were excited and motivated, and we had a great–if exhausting–time. We discussed the elements of plays–character, plot, setting, conflict, etc–then I broke them into small groups and each group wrote a short play about bullying. When they were done, each group performed its play. Fantastic!