Writing the Modern Romeo and Juliet

Well readers, the fourth annual Young Writers’ Workshop is finally here! I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so ready to get started. And from all the positive energy in the Beach Museum this morning, I think our young writers were pretty excited, too!

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After staff introductions and an icebreaker activity, our young writers formed into groups based on their answer to the question: What is your favorite film: Wonder Woman, Rogue One, or Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2? After separating into groups with instructors, the young writers’ first task was to come up with group names. This year, we have the Blue Dinosaurs, the Scribes of Gondor, and the Baby Groot. Staying in their newly created groups, the young writers headed into the Mariana Kistler Beach Museum galleries to hunt for ten items previously determined by our staff.

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And they’re off!


Now, for a scavenger hunt, ten items may sound easy. However, the Beach Museum typically displays 150 to 200 works in their collection, which houses over 8,500 pieces. While this task may sound daunting, our young writers were up for the challenge and each group found all ten items!

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See the determination on their faces?

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Our sneakily chosen items can’t fool these super sleuths! 


After the scavenger hunt, a couple of writing activities, and lunch, our first visiting author, Catherine Trieschmann—a returning author from last year’s workshop—came to work with our young writers. 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 as well as in London, Sydney, and Edinburgh. She also wrote the screenplay for Angel’s Crest, a film that premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. Needless to say, the young writers were extremely excited to have Catherine’s expertise as they created and performed their play, A Modern Romeo and Juliet.  

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Who was your first crush? How did you feel the first time your heart was broken? What emotions did you feel the first time you experienced death? Catherine asked our young writers to explore these three questions because these issues are at the heart of Romeo and Juliet. After our young writers answered these questions, they also practiced poses to go along with the topics of love, heartbreak, and death. 

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Once the young writers honed their poses, Catherine tasked them to work in groups to create an improv scene that explored one of the three themes. After the writers practiced and performed their parts, Catherine provided feedback for each group and emphasized that dialogue reveals the setting, purpose, and conflict of the scene.

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After the groups revised their parts, they worked together to put all their scenes together into a short play. Their play was extremely creative and thoughtful. It included a dance battle death scene as well as a very dramatic love-triangle!

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“They stole my potatoes!”


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“So what brings you here?”


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“Let’s take a short-cut down this creepy alleyway.”


With all the creativity that was flowing today, I can’t wait to see what the young writers will write the rest of the week. To stay up-to-date with our workshop, keep checking back as the week progresses, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

-Kirsten, Program Assistant

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