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Mary Hamilton – Learning about the Working on Our Work Weekend

Mary Hamilton shares on running the WOW Weekend for storytellers (Working on Our Work Weekend Retreat. Press Play to hear Mary Hamilton speak on the

Press Play to hear Mary Hamilton on running the WOW Weekend for storytellers (Working on Our Work Weekend Retreat.

Post written by Mary Hamilton.

What is a WOW Weekend?

A WOW Weekend is a “Working on Our Work” Storytelling Weekend facilitated by Scheherazade’s Legacy – Mary Hamilton & Cynthia Changaris. Wow Weekends provide an opportunity for storytellers of all experience levels to gather as peers and grow in the art of telling stories. Each storyteller participating in a WOW Weekend is guaranteed the same amount of time (minimum one hour) for the group to focus their attention on the teller’s work. Using an artist-centered process, each participant will be able to use the collective wisdom of the group in service to the storyteller’s work.

Want to try out a new story? Participate in a WOW Weekend. Have an idea for a new workshop and want to talk through it? Participate in a WOW Weekend. Got a gig coming up that calls for you to make a familiar tale five minutes shorter? Participate in a WOW Weekend. Got a gig coming up that calls for you to present a program of stories you haven’t told in a long time? Participate in a WOW Weekend.

In other words, the agenda for each teller is determined by the teller. Truly, a WOW Weekend fosters a gathering of artistic peers listening, thinking and responding in support of one another’s work.

How Do We Work on Our Work Together?

We use the Artist-Centered Response Process. The Artist-Centered Response Process is a combination of storytelling coaching techniques developed by storyteller Doug Lipman and artist-centered critical response process developed by dancer Liz Lerman. We’ll use a step-by-step process with the artist deciding how far to proceed along the five steps:

Step 1: Listen (to the work, to the ideas, to whatever the artist want to use the brains of the group to consider). Sometimes, Step 1 is the only step the artist wants because the artist just wants to “put the work out there” to see how it feels, but does not want to discuss it with the group. That’s fine and allowed at a WOW weekend.

Step 2: Give affirmations – the group lets the artist know what they heard that is working. Artists are encouraged to use Step 2 to benefit from the opportunity to hear from peers. While some may feel, “I don’t need to hear affirmations. I want to focus on what needs to be fixed, so I plan to skip Step 2!” it is important that the artist hear affirmations. It is in Step 2 that artists often learn about aspects of their work that are indeed working well that the artist had not realized were successful or had not acknowledged as strengths.

Step 3: Artist asks questions – this is the artist’s opportunity to bring up those issues the artist wants the group to consider, ponder, give opinions on, etc.

Step 4: Listeners ask questions or state reactions – this is the artist’s opportunity to hear (and answer if desired) questions from the group. This step can help the artist become aware of sections where the listeners “didn’t get it” which can really help the artist figure out where tinkering may be needed. “State reactions” does not mean “pass judgment” but instead means the listeners can tell the artist where they were lost or confused, or found their attention wavering, or what they are wondering about. If a listener feels a strong desire to make a suggestion during Step 4, the listener should ask the artist’s permission first.

The Final Step: Check back in with the artist. Often, after the listeners ask questions, the artist discovers she/he has more questions about the work or more comments to make, so a final check with the artist is always the last step in the process.

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This Post is a repost from Mary’s Website – See the original material in context and learn more about the WOW weekend.

2 Comments

  • By Mary Beth Spann, May 29, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

    Community, collegiality, support and feedback are crucial to anyone’s growth–and this is especially true for artists who often develop their art in isolation. An Artistic Master Mind as described in this post can only result in better, deeper, more honest and more reflective art.

  • By Cheryl, November 28, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

    I had the wonderful experience of attending a WOW weekend with Mary and Cynthia. This was a very enlightening program. thank you for offering this for others.

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