On Wednesday night I went to a writing workshop At the Rupertswood mansion in Sunbury. I’d had a day that had been chaotic. One of those days when I seemed to be rushing from the time I got up until it was time to head up for the class. As I drove down the driveway into the grounds surrounding Rupertswood I felt out of breath, flustered. I felt as though I was too stressed to get anything out of the night. I felt that my head was so full of workaday stuff, that learning, that taking anything in would be impossible. But lately I’m finding when I least expect it, when I’m least prepared, good things seem to happen.
The Workshop was part of a series of courses offered by the Salesian College as part of a new program called The Twilight School. The concept devised by Mark Brockhus, (Salesian Principal,) is to get Parents, staff and the local community involved in the life of the college. The mansion which sits majestically beside the college provides a venue for learning that is beyond imagining. For a local like me The Twilight School is like a door into a new community.
The guest tutor for the night was writer, actor, director Ailsa Piper. Our group gathered around two tables on the verandah of the mansion and listened as this energetic walker and talker led us on our way. She told us that for the next couple of hours we’d need to be, ‘Creators not curators,’ that editing was something you do after the act of writing. That we’d need to roll up our sleeves. We’d need to write and keep on writing even if that little voice inside tried to stop us or tried to convince us we had nothing worthwhile to say. Ailsa stressed the importance of just getting words down onto the page. She encourage us to be messy because as she put it, ‘A mess is where we play.’ Our group used word clusters to get the bones of a character down. And our leader prompted us, pushed us and encouraged us to keep playing. There were 25 people in the group. 25 heads . 25 sets of hands racing to try to capture images and emotions.
After a writing burst that gave me writers cramp Piper suggested we leave the writing-table and move out onto the mansion forecourt and use movement to get us ready for the next writing phase . Now I’ve been in a few writing classes over the years. Tried a lot of different ways of trying to get focused none of which involved running around a car park, skipping, hopping or running. To my surprise she soon had us stretching and bending and laughing. Quite simply, Ailsa had 25 adult learners playing. We laughed at ourselves laughed at each other and came back to the notebooks and used the experience to continue writing. I don’t know that people in a learning environment are supposed to have that much fun. Don’t know how you’d illustrate on a flow chart the sense of community that Alisa’s lecture encaptured. But I know for me for a couple of hours I forgot about everything and got lost in learning.
On Wednesday I night I learnt that playing and getting in touch with my physical self, can open a door to the creative self. I was reminded about the powerful spirit that springs from mature aged learning. I discovered that a historic mansion can feel like home. And that The Twilight School is offering so much to my local community. I learnt there were people like Ailsa prepared to encourage and inspire others to try new things.
There will be more nights at Salesian. Different tutors, guest speakers, public forums and a range of subjects offered. If Wednesday night was a sample I can’t wait to open the show bag. If your a local stroll up to the mansion and see what’s hapenning. If your not a local, Drive on over, it might be a surprising way to end you Day!