Starting June 5th, the Kingsbridge Branch Library will be hosting a Memoir and Performance workshop for older adults 55+, which is part of the Creative Aging in Our Communities, a program of Lifetime Arts. During the workshop, participants will craft a short-story memoir with the help of teaching artist Lauren Jost. In this blog post, Lauren tells us a little about herself and her background in memoir and performance, as well as some of her favorite memoirs and advice for aspiring memoir writers.
Tell us a little about your background in memoir writing and performance:
I have been working as a theatre artist and educator for ten years, specializing in community-devised performances based on personal storytelling. I love to work with people who do not usually work in the theatre and help them tell their stories using memoir-writing and performance. I have devised performances with middle schoolers, older adults, and other storytellers, all based in true, personal stories that have a universal resonance.
What do you like about working with older adults?
I love working with older adults because they have such a rich and diverse history to draw from for their storytelling. A main component of my workshop is developing a collaborative and supportive community amongst the participants, and most older adults are willing and excited to contribute their wisdom and experience to this community.
Do you have a favorite memoir?
I love The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, because of the questions she raises about the complexity of abusive relationships and mental illness. I also love Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried because of the challenging lines he draws between truth, memoir, and fiction.
Do you have any advice for someone writing a memoir?
Turn off your editor! Don't worry about sounding like other writers, just write as much as possible as often as possible and let your own unique voice start to develop. Sometimes I'm so worried that my ideas aren't good enough that I don't even start a project, but when we turn off our editor and plow into the work, then we can really find what we're aiming for!
Are there any other projects you are currently working on that you would like to share?
I am currently performing in The Red Dress which is an original devised play based on my and others' stories of adolescent sexuality. I'm also developing a play called Runaway, which is a puppetry and multi-media memoir piece based on my own childhood adventures of looking for imaginary friends inside a flower bush.
If you are interested in participating in the Memoir and Performance workshop lead by Lauren, in-person registration begins Tuesday, May 22nd at 1:00pm. A final sharing event where participants' work will either be read aloud or dramatically performed will take place on August 14th at 1:00pm.
You can also check out some books at the New York Public Library to help you get started with your own memoir.
Creative Aging in Our Communities: The New York City Libraries Project, a program of Lifetime Arts, Inc, is generously supported by the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, with additional support from the Laura Jane Musser Fund, and is administered in partnership with Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library.