ONE-ON-ONE SCRIPT ANALYSIS
Have your script read and dissected by someone who’s written a few. Page notes, plot, structure and character evaluation, motivation, tone, style and philosophy. In person or by phone, Skype or FaceTime, or email.
On a Friday evening, eight writers assemble at Ernest’s bucolic New Hampshire farm for a cocktail party and to meet the handful of professional actors who’ll serve as prototypes and be available to read the eight short plays that will be written over the weekend.
Why plays, when attendees run the gamut of screenwriters and novelists, journalists, poets, lawyers and teachers? Because the short play, to a man who’s written dozens of them and has fostered more than a hundred through years of teaching, is the perfect and containable medium. If a four-minute song, country, folk or rock, or, for that matter, an aria, can create an entire story, with a beginning, middle and end, Ernest, a prolific lyricist himself, tells his fellow writers, we can, too, in a five-minute play. We can fit a lot of passion into five pages. And we can finish. It’s part of the deep satisfaction of the weekend: everybody goes home with a completed project; there’s no time to procrastinate and no one gets to fail.
Each workshop has a theme, one of the five tenets of storytelling – Emotion, Character, Plot, Dialogue, Message. Writers can hop on at any stop and several have gone the loop twice or more, but the themes serve as starting points for Ernest and the writers to discuss where stories come from and how they get built.
By the end of the first night, the eight writers attending will have shared life experiences and secrets and emotions and be bursting with ideas and will retire to their respective homes or the myriad charming hotels and B&Bs in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and return Saturday morning with outlines for their new plays. A friendly and gentle colloquy follows – these are Positive-Energy-Only workshops – and the writers sequester themselves in a room in Ernest’s sprawling house, by a fireplace in the winter, down by the pond, in the meadow, or the barn or on the screen porch in the summer.
In the late afternoon, each writer has one-on-one time with Ernest, letting him read and discuss the new script’s strengths and potential challenges. And, after a final pep talk from Ernest, the now-bonded writers head off for a night of writing their second drafts.
Sunday morning, back to the table. Actors materialize, the scripts are read aloud, the other writers weigh in. Some are veterans and have been published or had their scripts made into movies for the big screen, some have had plays done in New York, and serve as big brothers and sisters to the newcomers; some of them have never before put pen to paper but may always have dreamed of writing, and become proof of Ernest’s long-held contention that everyone is an artist; everyone has a story to tell. Write On Golden Pond is the perfect, safe place to explore one’s creativity in a warmly supportive and reassuring environment.
The spirit at Whitebridge Farm is electric and infectious; great stuff is happening. One by one, the writers quietly go back to work, creating a third draft and sometimes a fourth. The excitement in the house has to be experienced to be believed and no one is more moved by it than Ernest himself, making sure that each writer has what he or she needs, encouragement and confidence high on the list.
When the writers are ready, each has rehearsal time with the actors, and with Ernest, and then, as if by magic, an audience fills the theatre seats, and the writers see their new plays come to life, some hearing for the first time something they’ve written. The experience is transcendent, galvanizing and liberating. Some of our writers come back for eight or nine sessions; one has never missed a Write On Golden Pond workshop. Come join us; you’ll see why.
WRITE ON GOLDEN POND™ GROUPS
Special arrangements for groups of eight may be made through The Office of Ernest Thompson. For more information and to request dates, click here.
For experienced writers only. An examination of what it means to be relevant in today’s culture. With outlets proliferating every day (see Writers Guild Strike 2007-2008), how to keep it honest and essential. If your goal is to get rich quick writing bad TV or senseless violence and gratuitous sex, this isn’t the workshop for you. If you believe that writing for film and television and the theatre can still be an art form, you’re not alone. One or two day workshop, maximum 12 writers.
A take-no-prisoners tutorial in grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation and why they still matter in the 21st Century. Any writer whose feeling like they don’t need a coarse like these and can’t find all seven misstakes in this sentence, hopefully will think again. One day workshop, no maximum, everybody writes.
REWRITING AND OTHER FACTS OF LIFE™
A two-day workshop in how to find the courage and hard-heartedness to take a slash-and-burn approach to your precious script. Anybody can write; it takes a real man, or woman, to take a script apart and put it back together. Ernest, who, 30 years later, is still striving to get ON GOLDEN POND right, provides examples of his own work and works with other writers on discovering ways to make their scripts better. For playwrights and screenwriters alike. Maximum 12 writers.
For questions, click here to contact The Office of Ernest Thompson.