Kelly's News Blog
Your Memoir as Monologue – How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance
Kelly DuMar is teaching the six-week online class “Your Memoir as Monologue” starting September 6, 2017. She’s a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over fifteen years. She founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 11th year.
What inspired you to teach this class?
I love monologues. Listening to them, helping others write them, and writing them myself. First person narratives are gripping invitations to audiences, particularly when they present a dramatic journey, and moments of survival of someone – a person, a character – who has enlisted my compassion and concern.
Don’t you love the invitation to enchantment? The theatre, darkened, the stage lit.
Whether I’m in the audience or the playwright, I’m involved and transported by possibility. The theatrical question, What if. . . is an invitation to be enlightened, and changed through storytelling.
I love helping writers tell powerful stories on the stage – particularly those whose voices
and stories have been unheard, silenced, trivialized or marginalized. Eleven years ago, I founded a play festival, Our Voices, for new and experienced women playwrights to have a uniquely supportive place to develop their stories for the stage. Our Voices is an all day play lab that has supported nearly 150 women playwrights to develop plays with actors and directors. I love how one participant last year describes her experience in Our Voices, because she nails why writing monologues based on life experience can be so validating:
“Writing is my solace and joy, coming to me in bursts of laughter or darkness. I have stories to tell yet, at times, I shrink from sharing, doubting my own voice. Through more workshops and conversation, I hope to strengthen that confidence in my point of view and reinvigorate the process to write the things I don’t yet dare to consider.”
How is writing for the page different from writing for the stage?
Collaboration with other artists is illuminating, joyful, and challenging – and writing for the stage requires it. Sitting day to day at one’s desk can be lonely. But writing for the stage invites us into a theatre – a rehearsal, into a relationship with actors, directors, and audiences. Here’s what an Our Voices participant shared about writing for the stage:
“One of the things I love most about writing plays is the possibility of witnessing one’s words and dramatic vision come alive on stage.”
Writing monologues for the stage makes the healing power of writing visible, visceral and accessible – not just for the playwright, but the audience as well. People are so amazingly resilient! Writing monologues for the stage is a natural way to find out how resilient you are – and sharing what you write inspires other people to feel hopeful and resilient.
What are some of your favorite dramatic monologues?
My favorite is definitely Emily Webb’s “Goodbye,” monologue in Thornton Wilder’s classic play, Our Town. What moves me in a dramatic monologue is when a character goes on a compelling emotional journey and takes me with her – she begins in one place and ends in another – she’s more awakened, and so am I. Watch these Youtube videos of two different performances of the Emily Webb role – the first is from a movie:
Here’s the same monologue in a recording of a stage performance:
What can students in this class expect?
We need spaces where we can give ourselves permission to un-silence our deepest truths and most authentic self. In Memoir as Monologue, I facilitate a safe, supportive, healing environment for writers to tap into their deep feelings and beliefs and find the courage and skill to share them for personal growth and craft them for performance. Participants can expect to express ordinary and extraordinary life experiences, and feelings and construct powerful, dramatic stories with universal appeal.
Kelly DuMar, M.Ed., C.P., is a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over fifteen years. Kelly founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 11th year, and she teaches playwriting at the International Women’s Writing Guild. Kelly’s award-winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by Brooklyn,Heuer, Youth Plays, and Smith & Kraus Audition Anthologies. She’s author of a non-fiction book, Before You Forget: The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children, and two poetry and prose chapbooks, All These Cures and Tree of the Apple.She’s a certified psychodramatist and a playback theatre artist. Kelly is honored to serve on the board of The International Women’s Writing Guild and the TLAN Council, and she moderates SPARKS: a bi-monthly teleconference where she interviews a notable TLA practitioner and leads an open mic. You can learn more at kellydumar.com
Praise for Kelly’s Monologue & Playwriting Workshops
“Memoir as Monologue taught me the power of my own story. Kelly’s guidance on creating effective drama, her concrete feedback on improving my work, the nurturing environment she created for participants and the excellent resources she brought to the table opened a whole new world for me. This was one of the most effective online classes I’ve taken.”
“Kelly provided excellent resources, offered valuable, timely feedback, sought our feedback as the course progressed and created a nurturing atmosphere. The opportunity to both write and hone monologues and then hear our work performed by a professional actress exceeded my expectations of the class. I learned the freedom monologues offer in contrast to writing.”
“[I learned] better ways to approach monologue than the ways I’d been trying; liked that I cracked open a tough nut of a story in a new way, identifying the core problem Narrator needed to solve (which was different from the problem she was trying to solve).”
“Thank you so much for guiding us all into a most wondrous experience . . . and your attentive intelligence in keeping us on track and focused as each shared and bared depths.”
“Your class was awesome, inspiring and so very insightful. What gifts you bring and give. Thank you!”
“Your memoir-to-monologue class has inspired a whole new project. Thank you. And thanks to my classmates. I learned so much from each of you.”
“Thank you for creating such a collaborative atmosphere of mutual support.”
The 25 Best Things to Do on Martha’s Vineyard
The season may be waning
but summer memories of The Vineyard still warm and welcome our late August memories. Primarily known as a summer colony, and only accessible by boat or air, Martha's Vineyard still charms with end of summer pristine beaches, bright gingerbread cottages, over flowing farmers markets and sun-setting lighthouses. Stay 'On Island' with these followsummer recommendations and enjoy these last remaining kisses of summer on Martha's Vineyard.
Read more here
"This is your dance, your sibling dance
of competition, confrontation,
We've just returned from an annual family vacation where I took this picture of my three twenty-something children a few nights ago, playing a game. You can't see what's truly remarkable about this photo: the rifts in relationship that preceded this untroubled, unified vacation with sibling harmony and happiness. I took this picture because I'm grateful, and relieved - because I'm a sibling who has survived decades of conflicts and rivalries with two sisters and two brothers, to age together, still close, still unified, still there for each other, still bonded by love.
In my 2001 book, Before You Forget - The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children, I have a chapter on writing diary stories about sibling rivalry - Chapter Ten: Conflict as Quest. I'm glad I wrote this sibling rivalry story about taking Landon and Perri, ages 8 and 3, on a quest through conflict - a hike to a waterfall in Vermont. I'm grateful for their dance, especially when it's toward each other. . .
You can read the entire essay here and check out all my upcoming events!
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A year ago I had the unique opportunity to join a Playback Theatre diversity training program for graduate school faculty led by Nisha Sajnani. As member of this "pickup" Playback Troupe, (a small group of us assembled specifically for these faculty trainings), I had the chance to enact faculty stories about racial justice in higher education, facilitated by Nisha for graduate faculty at Lesley University. Recently, an insightful and informational blog about this enlightening program was published by Nisha and her collaborator, Amanda Wager, on Playback Theatre Reflects - An independent blog for writing on Playback Theatre, curated by Jo Salas.
Below is an excerpt from this article, and to read the entire blog, go here.
"Gaps, Complicities, and Connections: Stories from a Movement Towards Racial Justice in Higher Education," by Nisha Sajnani and Amanda Wager
Below is an excerpt from this article, and to read the entire blog, go here.
I'm honored to have two of #mydailywalk nature photos featured in Issue 6 of Young Ravens Literary Review - an issue themed "Prayers for the Planet" - I hope you'll have a look at what they've included in this issue's inspiration, about which they say:
"In a time of environmental degradation and societal unrest, the artists and poets of Young Ravens gather around proverbial creative fires to send up prayers for this irreplaceable planet.
A silver river runs through all these works, and it is this: even the most mundane experience with nature opens the observer to an encounter with the magical, the numinous, the eternal. The gulls of Jenn Powers’s “Salt Water” and Ahrend Torrey’s “Recognizing Eternity” preside over this issue, inviting readers to embark on this sparkling expanse and soak in nature’s glories. Other artists explore the nature of our relationships with each other. In “The Universe is Yours,” Vivian Wagner thanks Emily for reminding her how to be grounded in the present and appreciate the shining now."
You can read the issue and view my images, "Seed Pod in Winter," and "Milkweed Bird" here.
Writing Truth & Beauty Newsletter, June 2017
My father loved growing peonies. He loved showing them to us when they bloomed in his yard every June. He would pick two - three at most - bring them indoors, and put them in vase for my mother.
I miss my father's peonies every June. So, a year or two ago, I planted some of my own. This week they are in bloom. I picked one to bring inside for my mother and father in their absence.
I wrote this short personal essay (published in my chapbook, Tree of the Apple), about visiting my father in memory care during the gap of time when he longer grew his peonies and I had not yet planted my own.
Driving to memory care all my voices argue - I should bring a treat to lift his spirits, I should hug him and smile, say it’s me, Dad, I should skip it he’s probably napping, he won’t know I’m there, except then how will I solve why he’s not
in his garden when I need to tell him hard or happy news and ask what is his plan for his summer – what seedlings are started and which soft day will he step me to the yard in front to bend my head and lean into the scent of peonies he’s staked under a fair and trusted sky
because my father never took us to church, he attended his garden. Who can say what this means about believing in God, this faith in what grows from a seed in soil he fertilized by fresh manure, where he practiced error and trial, renewal and hope. Above all, how he put his trust in pails. This devotion to watering each cucumber plant or tomato by hand not hose, how he opposed giving weeds any advantage in a decent rectangle - a yellow squash blossom place he tilled for letting him reach us
but, now I am driving to find him, it’s lunchtime and that could mean naptime. He is sitting with his back to the window at the table of four at which three are seated, where a friend to his right is being fed and a friend across from him is finished. My father’s lunch is set before him. On his plate, the small scoop of ground beef, the white hill of potato. The little red carton of milk. The paper cup of vanilla ice cream. The dish of pudding. I am a surprise with a spoon in my hand, and he smiles, cheerful and hungry, hungry as a man at his first
meal, so I pour his carton of milk into a clear plastic cup. Magnificent! he says after sipping. A little cup of artificial ice cream is Out of this world! Processed potato, Amazing!
Can I eat all of this? he asks, marveling at the feast.
Every bite is for you.
Oh, that’s wonderful, he says and he means it. What offering is next – in a paper cup of water, a single pink extravagance
I paid for at a store.
Peony, Copyright Kelly DuMar 2017, Published in Tree of the Apple, Two of Cups Press
All photos copyright Kelly DuMar 2017
A Day of Creative Writing by the Sea
March 25, 2017, Ponte Vedra, Florida
Women Writers - Greet spring by breathing new life into your writing at the Florida Fling! Please join the International Women's Writing Guild for our 2nd annual regional day-long writing conference in Florida for an opportunity to warm up, awaken, bloom, refresh, renew your words and your writer-woman self:
Florida Fling 2017
WHEN: Saturday, March 25, 9:00 AM‒5:15 PM
WHERE: Ponte Vedra, FL (north of St. Augustine)
FEATURING a book fair, open readings, a catered lunch, and two fruitful workshops:
Writing Truth & Beauty: Using Your Personal Photos for Creative Writing in Poetry & Prose with Kelly DuMar
Making More of Memoir: Tools for Drawing Readers To and Into Your Nonfiction Writing with Judy Huge
For the conference venue and schedule, workshop descriptions, presenter bios, a printable flyer, and REGISTRATION, click HERE.
Additional event information will be included in your registration-confirmation email, but if you have further questions, contact Marj at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshop Descriptions & Instructor Bios
Making More of Memoir: Tools for Drawing Readers To and Into Your Nonfiction Writing
This workshop provides both new and experienced writers with practical tools and personal advice for adding depth to your nonfiction writing: keys to building better bridges between yourself, your reader, and the world outside your door. Coaxing a “sympathetic resonance from the reader” is the difference between writing the stories people choose to read on airplanes and the ones that speak gently to the depths of the human spirit.
Judy Huge graduated cum laude from Goucher College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and holds a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University. She is the founder of the Goucher (College) Teachers’ Institute, a graduate program focused on improving the teaching of writing. Her own consulting firm, Work/Write consulting, helps clients make a difference in the way they define, approach, and solve the communications and management challenges that are unique to their particular situations. Judy is the author of “A Middle-Aged Woman and the Sea,” a tale of memoir and transition published in Women in the Wild, as well as her own business column and travel articles for the Gannett newspaper chain. She is a contributing author to 101 Ways You Can Help: How to Offer Support and Comfort to Those Who Are Grieving. Judy is Board President of the IWWG.
Writing Truth & Beauty: Using Your Personal Photos for Creative Writing in Poetry & Prose
The photos we save and the photos we take show what we care about and hope to preserve, what moves and mystifies us, the people, places, stories and experiences that bring meaning into our lives. In this workshop, we’ll write creatively from personal photos that arrest our attention and unpack why they do.
Kelly DuMar is a playwright and poet from the Boston area whose recent workshop presentations include the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, the Power of Words Conference, True Story Theater, Berkshire Women Writers, Playback North America, and the New England Theatre Conference. She is the author of a nonfiction book, Before You Forget: The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children, and won the Lit House Press Poetry Chapbook Award for All These Cures. Her newest poetry and prose chapbook, Tree of the Apple, has been published this year by Two of Cups Press. Kelly’s award-winning plays and monologues are produced around the U.S. and Canada. Her award-winning one-act play for youth, The Adventures of Rocky & Skye, was published by Youth Plays. Kelly is a past president of Playwrights’ Platform, Boston, where she led play development activities for many years. She founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College. www.KellyDuMar.com
My personal essay, So Much Wishing & Packing at Christmas, about hosting my father and his partner, Sylvia, for a Christmas with Alzheimer's, is published in Literary Orphans journal.
My father arrives for Christmas with Sylvia, the widow of his best friend from childhood. In the year they both lost spouses they moved in together. Blissed out on the amorous effects of simultaneous dementia, they assume they’ve always been together. They delight in a never-ending present of a past they never shared.
Masking. A need to feign competence cements their bond. Sylvia solves the problem of ordering food she cannot name by saying, I’ll have whatever Dusty’s having. Dad solves the problem of missing items by endorsing Sylvia’s theory – thieves. While they’re out and while they sleep, burglars run off with Glen Miller cd’s, dad’s chain saw, tubes of toothpaste. Their amusements are simple. At night, they sit in the dark with flashlights on. Cuddled on the living room couch they create safe.
I need my father to have Christmas dinner with us, just as he always has. Sylvia is welcome. We had to sneak the car away from them after Sylvia’s daughter complained about their long days driving lost in New England. So, my husband picks them up at noon on Christmas Eve and drives them to our house with overnight bags.
From the couch in my living room after lunch, my father spontaneously shares a revelation. It’s strange. . . but I don’t know where I live anymore.
He no longer recognizes my home, in the town he lived in for fifty years. You live in Springfield, now, with Sylvia I say.
Is that right? I can’t picture it, he says, calmly. Sylvia breathes softly beside him.
Special one-time sale! Been thinking about jumping in? Now's the time! Join Kelly next week!
Special weekend sale!! 20% off Kelly DuMar's profoundly healing course.
On March 1, 2017, my six-week online course, "How Pictures Heals," begins, sponsored by the Transformative Language Arts Network. Here's my article featured in the TLA blog about the healing process of writing from personal photos.
To continue reading go here
Poet Nicole Rollender, who edits the Carpe Noctem Blog, just interviewed me about my new chapbook of poetry and prose, Tree of the Apple. I really enjoyed answering her probing questions about what kind of world I was trying to create in shaping my chapbook and about how my poetry process works and much more.
Here's an excerpt - I hope you'll read the interview here.
What were you trying to achieve with your book?
I wanted to feel close to my father every day I was losing him to Alzheimer’s. Also, because he was smart and funny and brave and tender and hopeful and appreciative – and he fought back hard against losing what he loved, and I admired him for that even when it made caretaking scary and tough.
I wrote poetry as a way to understand what he was trying to tell us after he lost his words – his caretakers, friends, and loved ones. Also, his “wrong” words activated my poetic imagination with fresh, startling metaphors and point of view.
Kelly DuMar's new poetry & prose chapbook, Tree of the Apple, is available for purchase now at Two of Cups Press!
About Tree of the Apple Poetry & Prose, by Kelly DuMar
In this beautiful cycle of lamentations, Kelly DuMar follows her father through the wasteland of Alzheimer’s, tracking his failing mind with the faithfulness of a daughter and a poet. The sounds of the words as I say them, he watches, she writes, evoking the fathomless movements behind his eyes. Elsewhere, she lets him speak for himself as he gathers petals under a trellis: This is how you bend without tipping/This is how you kneel and lift a soft thing/up like a flake of cold that falls from a cloud/when it’s white all over. This is how you lose without breaking, says this book, so filled with that rare poetic sentiment: steadfast family love. At the end, all five siblings gathered around his bed, someone hits on the idea of reading David Copperfield out loud. …we take turns reading/to each other with the masterful passion of a/parent comforting a child to sleep at the end/of a day breaking. Keep this little book nearby, for its passion and its comfort, because nothing comforts like knowing you are accompanied in your sorrows. - Aimée Sands