Conflict Arises

From what I can tell, nothing brings out a teenager’s competitive spirit like a scavenger hunt. And can you think of a better place to have one than in a museum? Not likely, right?

Well, after introductions and a few icebreaker activities, our young writers formed into groups based on their answer to the question: What do you like best: baseball, bowling, or fishing? Our teams, after pairing with an instructor, headed out to comb over the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, as they came up with a list of 10 items that another team would have to find. I bet you’re thinking that sounds simple enough. But consider: the Beach Museum typically displays 150 to 200 works out of their collection, which houses over 8,500 pieces.It could get pretty tough to find a playing card in all of those beautiful pieces of art. But our young writers embraced the challenges (as they always do)!

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They’re off, and nobody’s gonna stop’em!

After the scavenger hunt, a writing activity, and lunch, our first visiting author, Catherine Trieschmann—a returnee from last year’s workshop—gave her presentation. Catherine’s works include The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock, Crooked, and How the World Began, and they have been produced Off-Broadway at the Women’s Projects and abroad in London, Sydney, and Edinburgh. She was also screenwriter for the film Angel’s Crest, which premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. It should be fairly obvious, but all of us at the Young Writers’ Workshop were tremendously excited to have Catherine visiting the program again.  

It seemed that the writing gods were smiling down on our workshop, because Catherine’s presentation capitalized on the energy from the scavenger hunt.

How would you persuade someone to give you their prized possession, a jellyfish, if you really needed to use it, like to cure a disease or make jam out of its jelly? That’s what Catherine asked the young writers to consider, because a useful starting point for conflict is and always has been: I want something, and I need to figure out how to get it. Our young writers
paired up and improvised ways to persuade someone to give up their beloved jellyfish.

They tried everything, from arguing that lives hung in the
balance…

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“My child has a rare disease that can only be cured by the
sting of this jellyfish.”

“But he’s my best friend!”

To more philosophical approaches…

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“The jellyfish deserves to have a life!”

“Do jellyfish really
have rights?”

In the end, it’s just hard to part with your jellyfish.

Once they’d developed a taste for dramatic tension, Catherine tasked the young writers and instructors with writing a scene where the conflict still existed between two people, but with an added twist: a bear needed to appear on stage.

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“Now,
how am I going to get this darn bear to show up? Shakespeare help me!”

The young writers came up with some pretty exciting (and really funny) tales, which they performed with a partner. We saw a mad scientist use a bear as a trap. And then, a bear kidnapper demanded millions of dollars in quarters. We even saw some Winnie-the-Pooh fan fiction.

After the performances came to a close, Catherine provided feedback over each play, offering insight into how each play could be revised and strengthened. She also offered advice on how to turn the mostly comedic scenes into a tragedy.

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“It’s a joke and a joke and a joke until it’s not.”

What conflicts will our young writers put to paper this week? I guess we’ll have to wait until Friday to find out.

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Stay tuned in.

And remember: keep checking back as the week progresses, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

-Hunter Gilson, Program Assistant

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