Area artists talk about creative juices at Washington County Literary Arts Summit

June 27, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK |
  • Hagerstown native Maggie-Kate Coleman speaks at the Washington County Literary Arts Summit Thursday evening at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

The second question Hagerstown native turned Brooklyn-based writer and theater artist Maggie-Kate Coleman said she is most often asked by inquiring minds regarding her profession is: “What comes first, the music or lyrics?”

To which her answer is “Yes,” and “Neither,” Coleman said.

But the first question the curious ask her is: “Why do you write musicals?”

To which she does not yet have an answer.

It’s fitting that Coleman — one of four authors featured during the third annual Washington County Literary Arts Summit held Thursday night at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Hagerstown — commenced her discussion with questions, because she  begins the writing process with a question.

Coleman’s recent work includes the book and lyrics for award-winning musical “POP!,” which was last shown at the Pittsburgh City Theatre.

The summit’s theme of “craft and production” rang through as Dale Stein showed an audience of nearly 40 people how “to paint the picture” of a scene by performing excerpts of her one-woman play, “A Fresh of Breath Air.”

“I think of it as clay — we’re always mushing around our clay, that’s part of our process, you never know where it will take you,” Stein said of how a piece of work evolves.

And if the work is clay, one’s personal voice is a “big slab of marble,” Stein said.

“I think that every person’s personal voice is not something you can simply deem so, but rather something that has to be chipped away at to be revealed,” she said. “You have to work the rough edges of your work until ultimately the essence of what you are trying to say or the metaphor that you’re intuitively driving toward will reveal itself.”

Authors Harry Bagdasian and James Grady also spoke during the event, which concluded with a dialogue between authors and the audience.

The summit was hosted by the school and the Washington County Arts Council. Sponsors included Washington County Public Schools, Washington County Arts Council and Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Foundation.

Michael T. Thorsen, retiring principal of Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, said the summit provides a “building block into the cultural life of the community.”

At the inaugural summit, people associated with the literary arts spoke on how to expand the field across the region, while the second summit featured writers talking about how they achieved success.

Thorsen said the performing arts are often primarily associated with those in front of the curtain.

Thorsen said the summit shines a spotlight on the “mortar” of performing arts, rather than just the bricks.

“Somebody has to write it all down,” Thorsen said.

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