Contact: Gabrielle Idlet, firstname.lastname@example.org, 479-966-5935
Joy Caffrey, email@example.com, 479-409-4912
Date: Saturday, March 30
Time: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Location: Miller Hall, Mount Sequoyah Retreat Center
Class size is limited.
By Gabrielle Idlet
I was born in 1970, which means I missed it. I grew up in the aftermath of the bohemian swirl I heard about from my parents and their peers, when artists and writers and singers and dancers and actors came together. In coffee houses and basement theatres and the candlelit back rooms of bookstores, they inspired each other to create new kinds of art, writing and performance and visual art that pushed everyone into wonderful zones of discomfort; those existential junctures where new awakenings arise. I imagined an electricity pulsing above them like a tornadic sky. And I envied them.
Fast-forward four decades, through Reaganomics and Clintonhope and the rise and fall and rise and fall of our economy, and here we are: 2013, Fayetteville, and our sky is pulsing! We’ve got Underground artists revealing works-in-progress, an Artists’ Laboratory exposing the complexity of human experience from sheet-forts, a superheroine establishing a Big Picture House for independent film. We’ve got a regional theatre accumulating awards at an exponential rate, comedy and improv gaining traction, musicians weaving regional roots into new languages of song, and creative idea-generators bringing experiences and visions to Fayetteville from around the country and beyond.
The effect is, as the cliche goes, much greater than the sum of its parts.
Crucial to this mix is cross-pollination. Learning is at the heart of our college town, after all, and with the emergence of the arts in Fayetteville comes expertise to share. I’ve been on the learning end of much powerful creative expression here, and as a writing teacher, I offer my own. I am continually inspired by the work I encounter around town, and I thrive on nurturing the writing of the participants in my workshops and retreats.
Every week I witness startlingly original work, and, most strikingly, characters finding their way onto writers’ pages. When energy healer Joy Caffrey began coming to my Wednesday workshop, I watched as her imagined people manifested as unique and multidimensional human beings in scene after scene. I had been a grateful client of Joy’s and had experienced her skills at guiding me to new awareness through active imagination and exploring archetypes (along with other tools), and I had a sense of her unusual ability to help my inner world come alive.
As she developed her manuscript in workshop and private coaching, she articulated the way she feels her characters living inside of her even when she isn’t writing. We decided Joy’s skills at navigating the unconscious and ethereal world would make an exciting complement to my devotion to the rendering of characters with words, we had a workshop in the making.
We designed a sort of dance in workshop form, giving participants tools to move between the outer expression of character and the inner presence of those characters, using a variety of kinesthetic exercises and writing prompts. As we developed the workshop together, it hit us that we had a remarkable opportunity to bring artists of various kinds together to contribute to one another’s work.
“Living Characters,” a daylong intensive March 30 at Mount Sequoyah, is aimed at writers, theatre artists, songwriters, storytellers, poets, and others interested in diving in and exploring ways to allow characters to come alive.
As Joy puts it, “I don’t ‘think’ about characters, I’m observing them as they unfold.” We are looking forward to helping workshop participants learn to get out of the way and allow the full complexity of the people they imagine to manifest, with dimension, on the page.
In our professional lives, Joy and I share a deep affection for human struggle and transcendence, though we come at that process from different directions. We share a passion for the richness that comes from being pushed out of our comfort zones, too, and an awareness that raw newness is what yields the creative. It’s that spirit that we are applying to the workshop.
It’s also that spirit, the celebration of the uncomfortable, that characterizes our town these days.
Sharing techniques across art forms, collaborating, experimenting, and pulsing with the energy of new ideas — the creative community in Fayetteville is shaking us up in the best of ways. Who saw this coming?