Tips on Tuesday: Filling the Well

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

When I taught full time in Utah’s high schools, I would be completely drained by the end of the school year — my experience is that most teachers were the same. Often I was the drama director, the debate coach, and I taught several English classes, or Special Ed., or Humanities, or . . . whatever. I was usually lucky enough to be able to sleep through most of June.

But eventually I woke up. And, while not sleepy, I still felt drained. All my creativity, my get up and go, had gotten up and GONE . . . What I needed then was more sustenance. I needed to fill up my well to even think about heading into another school year. Sometimes, I had classes I needed to take. Always, I tried to catch up on some reading. And ALWAYS, I turned to theatre. Theatre where I wasn’t “in charge.”

I went to Logan for the Opera Season. I went to Cedar City to see the 3 Shakespearean shows of the year, and the three plays or musicals they presented in that same season. Then I found out about the original play program. Writers would submit new original play manuscripts. They were read by Fred Adams and a few of his cohorts, and, generally, three scripts would be chosen to be produced as “play readings.” Well into their season, in August, they would have author #1 come to Cedar City for a week, see a staged reading of his or her play, listen to comments from the professional actors and the director, often do a lot of re‑writing, and by Friday, see another staged reading with an audience. The audience was then included in the critiquing.

During the second week August week, playwright #2 would go through the same routine. In the third week, playwright #3 would appear. As a “final” performance, during the fourth week in August, play numbers 1, 2, and 3 would be performed again on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

In time, this became my favorite time at the Shakespeare Festival. To be a part of the collaborative effort to give birth to three new, original plays was generally the highlight of my summer. I would return to school with new ideas, new plays to contemplate, plus all the “old” standards. And I would be excited to share what I’d learned over the summer with my next group of students.

As writers in a solitary, and often lonely world, we need to renew our energies as well. When you’ve given all you can to the story which is broiling in your mind, it’s time to re‑call and re‑fine that excitement. I call that “filling the well.”

How do you “fill the well” when you feel you’ve run dry? I think all writers write and read. But what else? Live theatre and live interaction with real people of a like mind do it for me. What ideas do YOU have to fill that well? Please share in comments — we all need some new well‑filling ideas every now and again!

See you next for Thinkin’ on Thursday!


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