Thanks to the PTA, especially Rachel Schiffenbauer, the fourth-grade teachers, staff, and students for another fun and productive writing residency at Rock Creek Valley Elementary School. We focused on creating character. Each student chose an animal and, through a writing exercise, developed that character’s personality and motivation. We wrote monologues and also worked on how to bring emotion and drama into our reading/performance voices. The students worked to bring voice into their monologues by choosing interesting and specific words and phrases that would fit their characters’ personalities. Here is a sample from each of the three fourth grade classrooms.
Join authors Mary Amato and John Feffer for an energizing mix of writing workshops, one-on-one critiques, group discussion, and time to write. For writers working in any genre—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screen or stage play, etc. Use this inspiring day to take a work-in-progress further or to write something completely new. Limited to 25 participants.
Noon-2 pm Brown bag lunch (bring your own lunch) and short presentations/discussions with Amato and Feffer.
2-6 pm Individual writing time and one-on-one conferences with either Amato or Feffer (there will be a sign up for one-on-one conferences so you can know your time slot)
6-7 pm Communal dinner (food is provided)
7-9 pm Reading and Feedback 7-9 pm
The Writing Day-Retreat will be held at the at the College Park Arts Exchange at Old Parish House, 4711 Knox Rd, College Park, MD 20740. The house is located within walking distance of the college park metro. Street parking is available for free. Total cost is $55, which includes dinner.
Space is limited and registration has already begun. Contact Mary Amato to register ASAP: info (at) maryamato (dot) com
Mary Amato is a novelist, poet, essayist, songwriter, and playwright, who has a great day job writing fiction for young adults and children with 17 titles currently in print. Her creative non-fiction work has appeared in The Washington Post, Education Week, Mothering, and more. She is co-founder of Firefly Shadow Theater, and founder of the Silver Spring Town Center Arts Salon and the Hive, organizations that promote creative networking and artistic growth. www.maryamato.com.
John Feffer has written and produced ten plays, including four one-man shows, and is the author of several non-fiction books and numerous articles on foreign policy. He is also the author of several novels, including Frostlands, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Splinterlands. He serves as the director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. www.johnfeffer.com.
Have fun with this Reader’s Theater Script of The Chicken of the Family.
The Lucy McGee Book Series is a collection of books (best for ages 7-10) that feature a girl named Lucy and her friends and family. Lucy is a budding young songwriter and a ukulele player. Each book contains 3-4 songs along with lots of fun extras, such as mp3s, lyric/chord booklets, instructional videos, and more here.
Four books are planned for the Lucy series. The first is out; the second book will be available June 4, 2019. You can find order the books at your favorite local independent bookstore, or on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
I’ll be at Book Expo on Thursday, May 31, launching my new chapter book series with @HolidayHouseBks and signing ARCS from 2-3 pm! See all you book lovers there!
What a great school! I loved seeing all students in third through fifth grades for an assembly and then getting the chance to do writing workshops with fourth graders. We focused on developing character and wrote monologues about an unusual day in the life of… whatever animal they wanted to be. I encouraged the writers to put clues in their work, but NOT to say outright what kind of animal they were. Every student wrote and got the chance to perform a portion of their stories. To model how students could take a piece of writing and create an audio story, we collaborated on recording one story from each class–complete with sound effects.
Great job, kids!
A huge thanks to the fourth grade team and to the PTA for coordinating this year’s creative writing residency at Rock Creek Valley Elementary School.Special thanks to parent Shauna Hill and to teacher Rebecca McNiece for all the communication and coordination. Listen to the three stories below. (If you can’t see them, your computer is blocking. Try https://soundcloud.com/mary-amato-author/sets/rock-creek-valley-2018.
Can you guess the animal who love waffles in this story?
Can you guess the animal who is learning to fly and hunt?
Can you guess the animal who is trying to impress the King of the Jungle?
Join us in supportive, creative community
Page to Performance: Monologues & Dialogues
Saturday, February 10 event
Space is limited and registration has already begun. Contact Mary Amato to register ASAP. email@example.com
Join fellow writers and theater-lovers for a day-long exploration of character, voice, and conflict followed by an evening performance of the work we create. During the day-time workshops, we’ll write and revise monologues and dialogues tied (however loosely) to the theme “Making the Call.” This event is for writers, poets, storytellers, songwriters, comedians, and actors who want to learn more about the process of creating and giving voice to characters and who want an opportunity to hear/see work come alive in front of an audience.
If you’re already starting to get nervous, rest assured that the focus will be on exploration and fun. No need to spend time writing something ahead of time. We’ll do some simple exercises to generate a range of material. The pieces we create will vary from a short snippet of voice to a more complex dialogue complete with a beginning, middle, and end.
You don’t have to perform. You might not end up with a piece you love or even want to share, but you’ll definitely stretch your creative muscles by doing the exercises and enjoy contributing to the whole by giving feedback and hearing/reading the work of fellow participants. Some of the audience members who come for the evening enjoy performing, so we can decide which pieces can be done with audience participation.
Throughout the day we’ll explore what makes characters alive, believable, specific, funny, and riveting as well as how to use monologues/dialogues to tell a story. See schedule below.
Only $45 for the full day. The evening reading of our work will be free and open to the public
- Check payable to CPAE on arrival.
- Your own brown bag lunc
- Whatever you like to write with—pencil, paper, laptop (charge up!)
- Any snacks, drinks that you need to keep you going. There is a kitchen and we can provide coffee and tea. Bring anything special you enjoy.
- Yoga mat if you need a stretch.
- Layers—to adjust to room temp.
We’ll provide pizza and wine for dinner.
The whole shebang will be at the College Park Arts Exchange at Old Parish House, 4711 Knox Rd, College Park, MD 20740. The house is located within walking distance of the college park metro. Street parking is available for free.
- Arrival by 10:30 please.
- 10:30-11:00 Warm-up
- 11:00-12:30 Monologue/Voice Workshop (including writing time)
- 12:30-1:30 Brown bag lunch
- 1:30-3:30 Dialogue/Conflict Workshop (including writing time)
- 3:30-5:00 Individual Writing Time (one-on-one and/or small group feedback as desired—if anyone wants to go home or to a coffeeshop to work, that’s fine, too.)
- 5:00-5:30 Break
- 5:30-7:00 Dinner (pizza and wine provided) during which we’ll give each other feedback, do any last-minute rewrites, decide on the order of the evening show, etc.
- 7:00 Set up performance space
- 7:30 Public Performance (invite your friends and family—we will have at least one piece that will involve readers chosen from the audience)
Space is limited and registration has already begun. Contact Mary Amato to register ASAP. firstname.lastname@example.org
Please pass it on to writer friends and actor friends.
If you can only attend the evening performance, just show up at 7:30 pm. If you’re on FB, please RSVP through event for the show: https://www.facebook.com/events/169063820520359/
Leaders: Mary Amato and John Feffer
Mary Amato is a playwright, novelist, poet, and songwriter who also writes fiction for young adults and children. She co-founded Firefly Shadow Theater (www.fireflyshadowtheater.com) and has written and produced plays for adults as well as kids. Her next project is a hybrid play/novel and is coming out in Fall 2018. www.maryamato.com.
John Feffer has written and produced ten plays, including four one-man shows, and is the author of several non-fiction books and numerous articles on foreign policy. He is also the author of the recent dystopian novel, Splinterlands. He serves as the director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. www.johnfeffer.com.
Carpe Diem Arts is offering my new class.
4 weekly workshops for adults
Tuesday evenings, 7:00-8:30pm
January 16-February 6, 2018
NOTE: You may borrow a uke during lessons if you want to try this, but do not own a uke.
Location TBD: Silver Spring or Takoma Park (depending on size of group)
In this series of sessions, we’ll work on singing, playing the ukulele, developing performance skills, and learning some practical music theory.
Songs will cover a range of styles. Mary will adjust the ukulele instruction so that players can be working at different levels at the same time. More advanced players can learn new tricks while less experienced players can be working on the basics.
Feel free to invite friends or family members who might appreciate the opportunity.
This series is great for:
a) singers who want to bond with their ukes;
b) uke players who want to expand their repertoire and bolster their vocal skills;
c) guitar players who want to add the uke to their repertoire;
d) songwriters who want fresh inspiration;
e) couples who relish the chance of a shared adventure!
f) music lovers who want to have fun in community with others.
NOTE: If you or a friend or family member want to participate but have never played the uke before, please contact us. We can try to arrange 1-2 private lessons before the class begins.
COST: $100 for the 4-week series. Let us know if you need financial assistance. We can arrange a partial barter for volunteer hours.
(Space is limited–so don’t delay in signing up!)
More info is coming soon!
For three days, I had the chance to work with sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in Albemarle County, VA. We explored how to get ideas for songs and specific strategies for songwriting such as structure, metaphor, rhythm, rhyme, and prosody. We applied the same techniques for revising that poets and fiction writers use.
Each class collaborated to create one original song. We created characters and backstories for these songs and imagined that the songs were coming from each character’s point of view. Although we were focusing on process, our goal was to finish the song in just three periods. Check out the songs below.
Thanks to the Bama Works Fund of Dave Matthews Band c/o the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation for the financial support. I’m also grateful to Bobbi Snow, visionary founder/director and project grant administrator; to Bliss Webel, the wise and wonderful Language Arts teacher for all the classroom support; and to Busy Graham and Carpe Diem Arts for making the connection. Finally, thanks to the students, who I enjoyed meeting, for their enthusiasm and energy.
Topics for songs were brainstormed by each group and chosen by democratic vote. We used the “voice memo” app on the iPhone to record our songs.
Recordings to come soon!