Aug 17- Suspense, Experiments, and Secret Passageways au Château de Verderonne

Cambridge Writers' Workshop

 

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We had a beautiful day that started off with delicious French pastries from a local pastry shop. Yum.  Rita taught a craft of writing seminar in the morning on using Rasa theory to create emotion and suspense in theater and fiction.  Everyone practiced creating emotionally charged scenes in their narratives.  In the afternoon, I taught a class where we learned about traditional and contemporary French poetry.  We even tried our hand at experimenting with some OULIPO (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) writing experiments.

In the early evening, Monsieur Marié de l’Isle took us on a walk to the ice house, one of the oldest in France.  We learned that in the days before freezers and refrigerators, people would harvest ice in the winter, storing it in a deep hole they constructed underground, called the ice house.  Ice was very expensive and enjoyed by royals and the nobility as…

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August 13 – Cambridge Writers’ Workshop at the Château de Verderonne

Cambridge Writers' Workshop

At brunch this morning, we tried something new, “flan de carrotes.”  Christina prepares for our afternoon writing workshop, along with Stephanie, Nannie and other participants in the Blue Salon.  Some of us wrote one act plays , new poems, novel excerpts, screen plays, and short stories.  We worked hard to upload our own by noon, and to read everyone’s work by 2:00 p.m.  Then, we critiqued each other using Liz Lerman’s method during our afternoon workshop.  A welcome break was feeding the chickens.  They follow us around now that they know we are the bearers of baguettes.  Some eggs are waiting to hatch!  After some bouts of down pouring rain, the sun kept peaking out.  We enjoyed a walk through the gardens and greenhouses.  At dinner, another specialty  appetizer was a terrine with chicken, carrots, green beans, and other vegetables.  Dessert was crème au chocolat…mmmm….along with Chef Monique’s favorite family recipe…

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August 15 – Cambridge Writers’ Workshop takes on Chantilly!

Cambridge Writers' Workshop

Today the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop headed off to Chantilly, known for it’s lovely whipped cream, genuflecting horses, and fancy French lace! (La vie française est toujours magnifique!!)  The day started off with a casual stroll through Chantilly’s downtown area where some of our participants made friends with the local cats 😉  Next up, an amazing hat and jewelry shop where our writers tried on some French berets and classic fedoras and struck a pose worthy of any good hard-boiled femme fatale 😉  After our Chantilly noir moment, we stopped by a local teahouse for some café gourmand, and then headed off to the stables to see the genuflecting horses!  The show, Cheval, Rêve, & Poesie, featured dancing horses, acrobats, court jesters, and beautiful music and costumes from France, Russia, Spain, China, and India!  After the program, some of the ladies sat down for a drink and observed the…

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August 12 – Cambridge Writers’ Workshop at the Château de Verderonne

Cambridge Writers' Workshop


“Je veux du soleil.”  One of the songs I played for the four Juliets just a couple of days ago,  but it was true, like the song, I wanted sun or better put, sunlight.  My last day at the CWW retreat began more relaxed and with a bit of sun than others.  Taking advantage of the break of sunlight I shot more exterior shots; the Lili pond, the gardens, a family of geese, and of people writing.  Everyone was working on their script, play, or novel around in the common areas which they were getting ready to present to be critiqued the next day.  A tranquil and calm mode pleasantly hummed throughout the house, only to be interrupted by rain, loud rain, but with the sun shinning.

I have been in my share of sun-showers but nothing so persistent and, well, confusing.  Shadows were cast stubbornly outside while the rain rushed…

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August 11 – Cambridge Writers’ Workshop in Paris!

Cambridge Writers' Workshop

M. Marié drove us to the Liancourt-Rantigny station early in the morning, while the fog still clung to the base of the trees. We were on our way to Paris, city of lights, for a day of exploration and inspiration.

The train ride rattled by in a green blur of passing landscape until we arrived in Paris. The gardens of the Medici palace are swarming with people soaking in the sun after a recent spat of rain, relaxed in green metal chairs on the carefully manicured gravel walkways. Children pushed colorful toy yachts across a fountain, yelling to each other and their parents as the boats skimmed across the water.

We made out way to a small crepe stand outside the garden, enjoying the hot food prepared by John, who showed us his favorite trick over and over again – cutting a banana furiously while staring us in the eye…

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August 10 – Yoga & Writing at the Château de Verderonne

Cambridge Writers' Workshop

Day 4 of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne started with atmospheric weather.  The morning began at 8 am with the daily feeding of the chickens.  This year, the chateau had two roosters and a bounty of hens so all was well with the gender balance.  After feeding the chicks, I was off to yoga with Elissa Lewis, who taught us some interesting balancing and partner poses today.  After a quick brunch, Norma taught a wonderful class on “Shadow, Light, and the Crepuscular.”  In the class, Norma quoted sections on bunraku (Japanese puppet theatre), ceramics, lighting, and traditional Japanese lacquerware from Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s In Praise of Light and Shadows, and encouraged participants to produce writing which traced how objects and situations seemed to alter with changing light, and how illumination and shadows could help cast and give depth to a scene.  After…

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August 9 – Writing & Yoga at the Château de Verderonne

Cambridge Writers' Workshop

Writing life Writing life

Day three of the Yoga and Writing Retreat was spent exploring the mystery of the Château de Verderonne and using our finds as fuel for our writing, eating French food, and working out our kinks on the yoga mat. We earned the clinks of “Salut” by the end of the day. (Always make eye contact in your toasts!)

Start the day with journaling and green jasmine tea before morning rejuvenating yoga with Elissa.

image Rita’s mystery object from her “Evocative Object Workshop.”

Rita’s  mystery object from her “Evocative Object Workshop” came with a surprise twist: we’re still not sure what it is. Hoof-fork? One of the many charming (and evocative) mysteries of the Château de Verderonne that inspired our poems, stories, songs, essays, and screenplays.

image Verderrone, ever-blooming.

A stroll around the gardens helped us choose our own “evocative objects” to write about.

image The old horse bath, now teeming with plant life…

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