The final day of week two began with a round of Readers’ Theater on the Symphony Space stage in which we dramatized one of our favorite chapters from today’s book, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood.
Little did we know that Maryrose, who in addition to being an author is also an actress, had some more theater exercises in store for us. Our meeting with her started off with a vocal warm-up — howling — that reminded us very much of the feral children of Ashton Place.
Maryrose told us that her experiences in the theater helped teach her how to be a writer. When she eventually realized that she wanted to invent her own stories and characters rather than just portray them on stage, one of the cardinal rules of improv comedy, “always say yes,” helped her be unafraid to chase her ideas and tell stories.
To show us how improv storytelling works, we gathered onstage for a game of “yes, and…” Each person makes up a small part of a story, which the person after them then continues, beginning with the phrase, “yes, and.” By the end of our first round, we had a story of a clumsy thief with telekinetic powers who is exiled in Mexico after marrying the daughter of a mad scientist.
Though stories spontaneously produced by improv aren’t always perfect, Maryrose said, they can sometimes create a great first draft.
Back in the studio, Maryrose told us that one of the challenges she faced when starting to write The Incorrigible Children was deciding from which point of view to tell the story. With that in mind, she asked us to write a scene that showed an interaction between a pet and its owner, told once from each perspective.
After sharing our writing, we headed to our usual spot in Riverside Park for lunch with Maryrose and a few games.
We spent the rest of the afternoon back at Symphony Space playing theater games, board games, card games and, of course, reflecting on all of the week’s reading and writing.
Our day ended in the Thalia Theatre with a reading of the campers’ writing by two great performers, Betsy Lippitt of the Bat Company of actors at the Flea Theater in Tribeca and Matthew Cody, actor and author of Powerless and the forthcoming The Dead Gentleman. We were really impressed by the campers’ writing this week and it was great hearing it read aloud!
To everyone who’s coming back on Monday, see you then! And to everyone else, we hope to see you next year. Have a great summer!