TLA Blog (TLA) What inspired you to teach this class?
TLA Blog (TLA) What inspired you to teach this class?
Sparks is a bi-monthly free tele-conference for all things TLA! Moderated by Kelly DuMar & Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, this tele-conference is a great opportunity for anyone to learn more about TLA practitioners and their work in the TLA community.
When and Where:
Wednesday, September 6th
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM (CDT)
Online via Zoom video conference
(Kelly will arrive on the video conference at 6:45 p.m. CENTRAL so you can connect early & work out any glitches! You will receive links and numbers in your email after RSVPing.)
This month’s featured guest is Gregg Levoy.
Gregg is the author of Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion (Penguin), and Callings: Finding and Following An Authentic Life (Random House)—rated among the “Top 20 Career Publications” by the Workforce Information Group. He is also the former “behavioral specialist” at USA Today and a regular blogger for Psychology Today.
As a speaker, he has presented at the Smithsonian Institution, Environmental Protection Agency, Microsoft, National Conference on Positive Aging, American Counseling Association, National Career Development Association, and many others, and been a frequent guest of the media, including ABC-TV, CNN, NPR and PBS.
A former adjunct professor of journalism at the University of New Mexico, and former columnist and reporter for USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer, he has written for the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Omni, Psychology Today, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, and many others.
with Kelly DuMar
Kelly DuMar is teaching the six-week online class “Your Memoir as Monologue” starting September 6, 2017. She’s a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over fifteen years. She founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 11th year.
What inspired you to teach this class?
I love monologues. Listening to them, helping others write them, and writing them myself. First person narratives are gripping invitations to audiences, particularly when they present a dramatic journey, and moments of survival of someone – a person, a character – who has enlisted my compassion and concern.
Don’t you love the invitation to enchantment? The theatre, darkened, the stage lit.
Whether I’m in the audience or the playwright, I’m involved and transported by possibility. The theatrical question, What if. . . is an invitation to be enlightened, and changed through storytelling.
I love helping writers tell powerful stories on the stage – particularly those whose voices
and stories have been unheard, silenced, trivialized or marginalized. Eleven years ago, I founded a play festival, Our Voices, for new and experienced women playwrights to have a uniquely supportive place to develop their stories for the stage. Our Voices is an all day play lab that has supported nearly 150 women playwrights to develop plays with actors and directors. I love how one participant last year describes her experience in Our Voices, because she nails why writing monologues based on life experience can be so validating:
“Writing is my solace and joy, coming to me in bursts of laughter or darkness. I have stories to tell yet, at times, I shrink from sharing, doubting my own voice. Through more workshops and conversation, I hope to strengthen that confidence in my point of view and reinvigorate the process to write the things I don’t yet dare to consider.”
How is writing for the page different from writing for the stage?
Collaboration with other artists is illuminating, joyful, and challenging – and writing for the stage requires it. Sitting day to day at one’s desk can be lonely. But writing for the stage invites us into a theatre – a rehearsal, into a relationship with actors, directors, and audiences. Here’s what an Our Voices participant shared about writing for the stage:
“One of the things I love most about writing plays is the possibility of witnessing one’s words and dramatic vision come alive on stage.”
Writing monologues for the stage makes the healing power of writing visible, visceral and accessible – not just for the playwright, but the audience as well. People are so amazingly resilient! Writing monologues for the stage is a natural way to find out how resilient you are – and sharing what you write inspires other people to feel hopeful and resilient.
What are some of your favorite dramatic monologues?
My favorite is definitely Emily Webb’s “Goodbye,” monologue in Thornton Wilder’s classic play, Our Town. What moves me in a dramatic monologue is when a character goes on a compelling emotional journey and takes me with her – she begins in one place and ends in another – she’s more awakened, and so am I. Watch these Youtube videos of two different performances of the Emily Webb role – the first is from a movie:
Here’s the same monologue in a recording of a stage performance:
What can students in this class expect?
We need spaces where we can give ourselves permission to un-silence our deepest truths and most authentic self. In Memoir as Monologue, I facilitate a safe, supportive, healing environment for writers to tap into their deep feelings and beliefs and find the courage and skill to share them for personal growth and craft them for performance. Participants can expect to express ordinary and extraordinary life experiences, and feelings and construct powerful, dramatic stories with universal appeal.
Kelly DuMar, M.Ed., C.P., is a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over fifteen years. Kelly founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 11th year, and she teaches playwriting at the International Women’s Writing Guild. Kelly’s award-winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by Brooklyn,Heuer, Youth Plays, and Smith & Kraus Audition Anthologies. She’s author of a non-fiction book, Before You Forget: The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children, and two poetry and prose chapbooks, All These Cures and Tree of the Apple. She’s a certified psychodramatist and a playback theatre artist. Kelly is honored to serve on the board of The International Women’s Writing Guild and the TLAN Council, and she moderates SPARKS: a bi-monthly teleconference where she interviews a notable TLA practitioner and leads an open mic. You can learn more at kellydumar.com
Praise for Kelly’s Monologue & Playwriting Workshops
“Memoir as Monologue taught me the power of my own story. Kelly’s guidance on creating effective drama, her concrete feedback on improving my work, the nurturing environment she created for participants and the excellent resources she brought to the table opened a whole new world for me. This was one of the most effective online classes I’ve taken.”
“Kelly provided excellent resources, offered valuable, timely feedback, sought our feedback as the course progressed and created a nurturing atmosphere. The opportunity to both write and hone monologues and then hear our work performed by a professional actress exceeded my expectations of the class. I learned the freedom monologues offer in contrast to writing.”
“[I learned] better ways to approach monologue than the ways I’d been trying; liked that I cracked open a tough nut of a story in a new way, identifying the core problem Narrator needed to solve (which was different from the problem she was trying to solve).”
“Thank you so much for guiding us all into a most wondrous experience . . . and your attentive intelligence in keeping us on track and focused as each shared and bared depths.”
“Your class was awesome, inspiring and so very insightful. What gifts you bring and give. Thank you!”
“Your memoir-to-monologue class has inspired a whole new project. Thank you. And thanks to my classmates. I learned so much from each of you.”
“Thank you for creating such a collaborative atmosphere of mutual support.”
Don’t miss this 6 week class that will empower you to share your story on stage!
“There’s beauty and meaning to mine from your life story, and this workshop will help you artistically express what you’ve overcome and achieved, and creatively share your experience to benefit others through the medium of theatre. You’ll learn how to write successful dramatic monologues based on your life that are personally meaningful, emotionally satisfying, and relevant and engaging for an audience. In class, through thematic writing prompts and creative exploration, you’ll develop your ordinary and extraordinary life experiences into powerful, dramatic monologues that can be performed – by you or an actor – with universal appeal. In class meetings will present elements of dramatic structure and explore the artistic qualities necessary for an effective dramatic monologue. We’ll explore the role of conflict, plot, communicating subtext, voice, narrative, and the importance of set-up. New writing will be generated in and out of class, shared in class and aspects of revision will be presented and practiced. Beginning and experienced writers in any genre are welcome!”
Beginning September 6th
About the Teacher:
Kelly is a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who loves leading new and experienced writers through dynamic writing exercises and meaningful sharing that leave you feeling engaged, intrigued and surprised by the depth of your experience. Kelly’s award winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by Brooklyn, Heuer,Youth Plays, and Smith & Kraus Audition Anthologies. She’s also author of a non-fiction book, Before You Forget – The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children. Kelly’s poems are published in many literary magazines, and her award-winning poetry chapbook, “All These Cures,” was published by Lit House Press in 2014. Kelly has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over a decade, and she founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 10th year. She’s a certified psychodramatist and a playback theatre artist. Kelly is honored to serve on the board of The International Women’s Writing Guild and the TLA Council, and she facilitates Let’s Talk TLA, a bi-monthly teleconference where she interviews a notable TLA practitioner. Her website is KellyDuMar.com
It was clear by the end of the conference that there is indeed great power in words — written, drawn, spoken, sung, danced — and in this time of division in our country, giving more people more power through telling their stories is one way to bridge differences. We have a duty as artists to express and create, but perhaps we also have a duty as citizens to create space for understanding. Transformative Language Arts can do that.
Many thanks to all the workshop presenters who generously shared their wisdom and experience with all of us. I’m already looking forward to Power of Words 2018 — October 11 – 14 in beautiful Vermont!
Storytellers — singers, poets, writers, actors — the buildings at Ferry Beach are full of talking, music, dancing as the TLA Network’s Power of Words Conference gets underway. Here are a few photos to transport you there:
Friday was rainy. We dodged puddles and huddled on porches as we waited for the conference to begin.
True Story Theater of Boston opened the conference with a wonderful playback theater presentation. The topic was stigma, and five or six conference members shared examples of the pain that stigma caused to them or someone close to them. After the personal telling, the troupe acted out (played back) an improvised drama based on the personal story.
Saturday morning was filled with workshops, all enticing. A small group gathered for Barb Asen’s workshop “Love Is all there Is: Mantra Singing for All” — a calm way to start a hectic day. Here’s Barb listing to the vibration from the voices as a song ends.
Susan Bennett-Armistead gave a keynote address at noon about the importance of reading aloud, “Read it again! Read it again! How Read Aloud Builds Brains and Changes the World.” Here she is showing her five-year-old’s “literate” scribbles, already demonstrating an understanding of many conventions of western writing.
Now the sun is out! The conference continues; connections, learning, discovery, and sharing abound. More to follow in the next blog post.
By Eila Algood
In 2010, I read about a weekly gathering of writers in the next town of Waimea on the big island of Hawai’i. I did not consider myself a writer, but decided I could go observe. I walked into the stark white room and was greeted with aloha by the eight people sitting in a circle. As I sat and listened, I felt surprisingly comfortable. I went back to the group two weeks later with a recent poem I’d written. As a Hawaiian man gave me positive, detailed feedback, I felt a deep sense of value. I became a regular to the group. A few months later they invited me to be part of their annual public reading.
I was excited to have the opportunity to share a poem. Three years of Toastmasters prepared me feel confident speaking in public. I went the extra yard and memorized my piece. When I spoke, I visually connected with the audience. Unfortunately, there was no one acting as emcee or keeping the readings on time and the scheduled two hour event became three hours long. At the next writer’s group meeting, I offered to organize a future public reading event to keep us on time. They were thrilled for the help and passed the baton to me. I decided it would run best if I was emcee and included a printed program with the writer’s names and title of the pieces they would be reading. My first crack at it was a success and I’ve been asked to lead the public readings ever since.
Two years into the writer’s group, I was asked to co-lead weekly meetings. I felt honored and enjoyed the opportunity to keep the group moving forward. I learned a lot about giving feedback, which was a key component of the group. I observed that telling someone who shared a four-page piece of his or her novel, “that was really good”, is quite useless. It is most valuable to be specific as to what works or does not work and what might make the piece more interesting or compelling. With that in mind I provide the best feedback I can and as a facilitator of the group, I ask questions to help other members define their thoughts. Ultimately, all feedback is opinion and up to the writer to use it however they want.
The group in Waimea is a forty-minute drive from my home, over a scenic, but long mountain road. In 2014 I began two writer’s groups in my small community of North Kohala on the northernmost tip of the big island of Hawai’i, which are currently active.
I’ve been thinking about going for a Master’s degree ever since I received a Bachelor of Science degree in business in 2006. The Transformative Language Arts degree offered at Goddard called to me. Rather than dive into an advance degree program, I began taking online classes at the TLA Network towards certification. I feel a kinship with the people of the TLA community. Being involved with TLA connects the dots for me of what I do as a leader of writer’s groups, a facilitator of readings by writers, as emcee of writer’s book launch events and as radio deejay. On my community radio show, Women’s Voices, I give airtime to sung and spoken words by female artists from my small community and around the world. The radio station can be streamed live on knkr.org thereby connecting Kohala to other communities around the world through women’s voices and vice versa.
TLA has confirmed the value of me as writer, the varied events I mentioned and my role within them as a way to connect community members, locally and globally.
Editor’s note: This blog post was submitted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the TLA Network Certification program.
A native New Yorker, who’s now living her dream of a sustainable life in Hawai’i with wife, Holly, Eila Algood has been expressing herself through writing since childhood. Her published works include, “On The Road To Bliss, A Poetic Journey”, “Rhapsody in Bohemia”, pieces in Frida Magazine and Think Pink Anthology.
The TLA Blog is currently seeking submissions!
Writing for the Transformative Language Arts (TLA) blog is open to anyone. While the majority of submissions will be from members of the Transformative Language Arts Network (TLAN), this is not required.
If you are currently pursuing a certification from the TLA Network, submitting to the blog will help fulfill your requirements and connect you to the larger community of TLA practitioners!
-Share how you have used the spoken, written or sung word in your life
-Share your experience in one of the TLA Network’s online classes
-Share a piece of written, spoken or sung word and its impact on you
-Share your process of incorporating TLA into your own life
We can’t wait to read about how TLA is present in your life and work!
What questions must the author consider in the act of witnessing? How do we write about our lives, which are entangled with the lives of others, in ways that are fair, loving, and ethical?
Check out this informative discussion about the ethics of writers in our communities, facilitated by Kelly DuMar and featuring Caits Meissner !
Witness this wonderful TEDtalk with poet, Glenis Redmond who recounts how poetry helped her discover her inner strength to heal.
Glenis Redmond is a nationally renowned poet with Greenville roots. She started the first poetry slam in Greenville in the 90s, bringing the first all-women’s team to the National Poetry Slam. She has individually placed in the top 3 at Nationals and was a two time Southern Fried Slam Champion. She walks in all the worlds of poetry: the page and the stage.