Brainstorming a Workshop


This fall it seems like I've been scheduling a lot of workshops at new places. A novel workshop here, a character workshop there. While I have a handful of "tried and true" programs to work from, it's a lot more fun for the teacher to have something new as well.
One of the most successful "brainstorms" to come up with a fresh workshop on a theme happened a few days ago at Tate Street Coffee.
I'd already worked withTerri Dowell-Dennis, associate curator of education for the Weatherspoon Art Museum, on an ekphrasis workshop. I had gotten a note from Richard Krawiec about a Poets for Change day on September 24 - he wanted to get poets thinking about what they could do in their communities to promote literacy and general Good Things on that day.
The date clicked with the new United Arts Council "17 Days" of arts happening in September and October all around Greensboro. Why not put these together? I emailed Terri to ask if she was interested... and it just so happened she was working on a Community Arts Day for Sept. 24!
Synchronicity, as Sting would sing.
So over coffee, and with an eye on the clock (30 minute parking), we tossed ideas back and forth. The exhibit at the time focused on persona. Persona poems! Secret identities. Superheroes! The hidden self. What about images - film - music. Drumming? Poems in performance. A stage?
I left bubbling with ideas, 15 minutes over my limit. Dang, a ticket!
But it was worth it. 
I roughed out a plan, Terri refined it - and here it is:

Peeking Behind the Mask: Weatherspoon’s Fall Community Day
Saturday, September 24, 1:00-4:00 pm

Each day we go about our routine lives, but inside we are superheroes or explorers, pirates or rock stars, hiding our secret identities behind a mask of an unassuming face and daily clothes. With the backdrop of Weatherspoon’s current exhibition, “Persona: A Body in Parts,” we’ll explore our own secret identities and “peek behind the mask” of famous folks (real or fictional) to imagine their thoughts and lives. One way to enter this secret world is to write a persona poem – persona meaning mask – in which we give a voice to that alternate identity. Join poet and novelist Valerie Nieman in the Weatherspoon lobby for a drop-in poetry experience for all ages. In addition, use a variety of materials to create your own magnificent mask to wear. At 3:00 pm we’ll celebrate with live improvisational jazz and a spoken word sharing. Don’t miss this high-energy exploration of hidden realms of the self.

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