Let’s Talk it Out

Today’s workshop began with a British secret agent accusing an old cowboy of murder—and the ABCs—as the young writers practiced generating productive dialogue in an improv exercise.

Sitting in a circle, every other person assumed the role of either secret agent or cowboy. One person began the dialogue with a line starting with the letter A, and each person after that continued the dialogue with the next letter of the alphabet.

The challenge was to add something new to the story with each piece of dialogue—to avoid circular conversations and move the story and characters forward.

The secret agent ended up being a penniless carny, the cowboy a bloodthirsty murderer who only wanted a college education, and the two ended up as allies, so I would count the exercise a success.

Dialogue practice continued in the gallery. Photographs from the “Dawoud Bey: Picturing People” exhibit, which feature two strangers coming together to be photographed, served as the writing prompts. The young writers were asked to create characters from the people in the photographs and then generate dialogue for the characters.

According to Katy Karlin, the young writers wrote some very interesting dialogue, and we plan to send their work to the artist himself.

Dawoud Bey’s exhibit will be featured at the Beach Museum until October 5. Much of his work, including the photographs used as prompts today, can be found here.

–Lacey Brummer, Program Intern

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