ARCHIVED: Summer Workshops for Adults

library lawn

Creative workshops for adults are taking place at Sarah Lawrence College next week giving vacationing or retired adults an opportunity to work with many of the College’s acclaimed faculty in intensive, residential programs. From June 19 to 24 the bucolic campus is home to aspiring and published poets, fiction and nonfiction writers, playwrights and puppeteers learning or perfecting their art.

Poetry, Fiction and Creative Nonfiction With Some of the Nation’s Best Writers

With its largest group ever, Sarah Lawrence College’s Summer Seminar for Writers is testament that writing is a popular summer pastime. Well over 100 participants of all ages from around the country will spend a week in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction workshops, as well as individual conferences, pursuing their craft and their calling at the seminar offered by the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at one of the nation’s “inkiest” colleges.

With an acclaimed faculty of poets, fiction and nonfiction writers to guide them, these aspiring writers, some already published, will spend five intensive days writing, discussing their work, listening to others’ and reading their own work.

Faculty members include New York State’s Poet Laureate for 2004 –2006, the United States Poet Laureate for 2001 –2003, Billy Collins; 2004 National Book Award Finalist Joan Silber, 2000 National Book Award Finalist Charles Baxter, Guggenheim Fellows Thomas Lux and Jo Ann Beard and 19 other award winning poets and writers.

Playwriting Intensive: Writing, Reading, Staging in 14-Hour Days

Sarah Lawrence College’s Graduate Program in Theatre is sponsoring a workshop that it believes is a unique model for aspiring playwrights. Playwriting Intensive brings together 20 participants who range in age from 23 to 70 from around the country for 14-hour days. Meeting with seven faculty members, including two directors the participants also have the opportunity to see their work read or staged by actors who have been engaged for the week.

“Having actors rehearse and read the work is one of the factors that distinguishes this program from others,” says Kevin Confoy, the program director and award-winning producer and director of plays off and off-off Broadway. Though different from typical playwriting retreats, the initial inspiration for the intensive workshop came from retreats sponsored by the Ensemble Studio Theatre of which Confoy and other members of the Sarah Lawrence faculty are affiliated, he said. The other unique element, says Confoy, is the use of improvisation. “We give the students a chance to present ideas for problem areas they are encountering to the actors who then improvise possible solutions,” he says.

Playwriting Intensive is a residential program beginning Sunday evening. Days run from 9 a.m. to approximately 11:00 p.m. through the week. Though students work in small groups they have an opportunity to work with all faculty members and meet individually with them. The faculty are all professional playwrights, directors or producers. In addition to Confoy, they include: Edward Allan Baker, Clay McLeod Chapman, Christine Farrell, Shirley Kaplan, John Dillon and Arthur Giron.

Puppetry: A Window into the Creative Arts

Among the many programs in the arts that flourish during the summer months are festivals, conferences and workshops in puppetry, an art form that can serve as a window into all the creative arts and is growing in popularity around the country. Under the direction of award-winning artist and performer Dan Hurlin, the Sarah Lawrence program immerses participants in this multidisciplinary art.

Puppetry became popular as a serious art form in America during the 1960s, when experimental theatre groups seized upon the medium as a new way of communicating with their audiences. Since then many theatre productions have featured puppets, often in conjunction with live actors. Even so, Americans usually think of puppetry as a children’s amusement, despite the fact that in other countries puppetry is considered to be a highly developed art form producing legitimate theater for adults.

Puppetry involves the intersection and integration of many art forms—set design, painting, sculpting, playwriting and music, among others—which make it a popular way to introduce students of all ages to the performing and visual arts.

Program director Dan Hurlin is the creator of the 2004 award winning performance work “Hiroshima Maiden.” He is the recipient of a 2002 Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. He earned a 2000 Dance and Performance Award (commonly referred to as the “Bessie” award) for his suite of puppet pieces, “Everyday Uses for Sight: Nos. 3 & 7.” In 1990 he received a Village Voice Obie Award for his solo adaptation of Nathanael West’s “A Cool Million” and in 1998 was nominated for an American Theatre Wing Design Award for the set of his chamber opera “The Shoulder.”