Intro from Jay Allison: Radio students from all over the country, plus Canada and Australia, came to live on Cape Cod for a couple of months to attend the Fall 2012 Transom Story Workshop. Rob Rosenthal and Sarah Reynolds ran the class with dedication, and made sure the students came away with skills enough to craft lovely pieces… which they did. The students found remarkable stories sitting under the noses of us who’ve been living here for decades. Come listen. It’s impressive to hear such work from a group of people just starting out, and it’s encouraging too, because there’s bound to be more of it.
About “Singing for Their Lives”
My story about music and dementia morphed during a discussion of focus sentences. I thought my story was about Denya LeVine and her journey as a musician. But I had this amazing active tape from a visit to a dementia unit. Rob suggested that my character was really dementia. Jay remarked early on that it might be best to just stay in one place, not follow Denya on multiple visits around the Cape. So, just one story. That was the first lesson.
Next was beginning to understand the importance of strong contrasts in a story. What it is like to live with the confusion that is dementia. And then, what happens when music is introduced and triggers memory and connection. Lesson #2: How to set up Denya’s visit, so as to sculpt the story with strong lines.
Lesson #3 is the one I learn over and over: that strong characters are everything. In this case, Denya is a guide to a world that is in some ways hidden away. She’s experienced and articulate. And she’s open to telling this story and reflective about what it means. John and Al? They are gifts.
Gifts are good.
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