Spotlight: Creative Writing and Screen Writing

Spotlight: Screen Writing 

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Less than three weeks ago the screenwriting students walked into class with, at best, a kernel of a story idea(s).  Okay, I’ll admit, I was a little worried.  How would they shape these kernels into screenplays for four short films in three short weeks?  The answer - talent and tenacity. BTW, one without the other doesn’t work.  Hard work and a creative imagination is the ticket.  I’m happy to report these students had both.  

Their stories are as inspired as they are diverse.  We have ‘girl wants boy, who doesn’t like girls’, ‘boy who wants girl and, therefore, must “off” other boy’, ‘a mother’s battle for virginity’, and ‘Thelma and Louise forty years later’. I know, you want to see all of these films.

Well, I have good news, by Friday all four scripts will be completed. Yes, conceived of, created and cooked in three brief weeks.  And they are amazing first drafts!

 I want to thank my students for their smarts, hard work and cooperation: talent and tenacity.

My advice - keep writing!

Sincerely,

John

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Spotlight: Creative Writing 

Since last week’s update, we’ve finished our crash course in the elements of fiction. On Thursday we studied different modes of narration, and the ways in which narrators can be classified beyond the usual categories of first, second or third person.

On Friday we studied how to manage the passing of time and passing between multiple timelines in stories. As an example of artful time management, we read It’s Bad Luck to Die by Elizabeth McCracken, a story that spans a 20+ year marriage from start to finish in only 20 pages.

The town of Spoleto, too, proved a valuable resource during our discussions of time. Students took a trip to lower Spoleto to better consider the juxtaposition of everyday contemporary life set against a centuries-old backdrop. We spoke in particular about how specific venues (perhaps Spoleto’s famous Roman aqueduct for instance, a notorious teenage hangout until the recent earthquake damage) or objects can anchor a narrative as it travels back and forth through time.

Yesterday we shifted our focus fully toward the students’ final projects, and today they met with me in individual conferences to discuss the direction of their new work. On Thursday we’ll be workshopping their latest drafts to make sure everyone’s ready for Sunday’s reading!

Creative writing students had a visitor during class at the park. 

Creative writing students had a visitor during class at the park. 

Performance Class 

Tonight, after dinner, students gathered in Sant'Agata for their third and final performance class. Photography students, vocal students, and creative writing students shared what they have been working on in class. As we approach the end of the program, students have been working hard preparing for their final performance on Sunday. 

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Spotlight: Photography

Sara Kerr, Faculty:

"This week students finished shooting and editing their street photography assignment. We had a mini critique in class and then we presented this work to the entire Spoleto group at our work in progress presentation. Students are now working on their "Place" assignment, bringing together  images of architecture, landscape, still life and detail shots of the places that they have been observing and experiencing during their trip. They are also putting together their final portfolio for the exhibition on Saturday! 

I asked the students to share with you their favorite image from their street photography assignment. Here is a small taste of the excellent work that they have been producing."  

Aida

"Not all strangers are strange. Some just need an introduction and a bit of an explanation. These three men were new to me, but by the time I had left we had become friends. "

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Carly

" This photo was a favorite of mine because the two children were clearly close and it was amazing to be able to capture their friendship in a moment. It also is very adorable"

 

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Emelia

"This is my favorite photograph that I took because after waiting for quite some time, my patience paid off and I was able to get the subject looking straight into my lens"

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Jonah

"I loved how this photo showed the touristy nature of the city of Florence. Even though this could be a common scene in many cities throughout the world, the foreground specifically seemed to show the competition for economic gain amongst the pedicab drivers. It is one of my favorite photos I took during the Street Photography unit, and I'm excited to include it in my final portfolio!"

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Meg

"I really like this photo because it displays a tight and close relationship. The couple walked perfectly through my frame, which was the best time and place for lighting."

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Today in Arts and Ideas, students left the classroom to work on a Town-as-Text inspired project in Piazza del Mercato.  They have been tasked to collaborate to create or to design a piece of art based on their collective experience.  They will continue to work on this for the rest of the week!

Student Spotlight: Visual Arts

Ciao and Happy Sunday! 

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Susana

Favorite Place in Spoleto: Piazza Garibaldi 

Favorite artistic medium: Oil paints 

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Zoe

Favorite Place in Spoleto: Piazza Mercato

Favorite artistic medium: Pencil for sketching 

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Tom

Favorite Place in Spoleto: Gelateria Crispini 

Favorite artistic medium: Oil paint 

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Peili

Favorite Place in Spoleto: The pathway to La Rocca. 

Favorite artistic medium: Charcoil and water color. 

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Taylor

 

Favorite place in Spoleto: Paoluzi, the art store. 

Favorite artistic medium: Gouache

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Ethan 

Favorite place in Spoleto: Paoluzi, the art store. 

Favorite artistic medium: Graphic 

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Olivia

Favorite place in Spoleto: Piazza Mercato

Favorite artistic medium: Acrylic 

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Emma 

Favorite place in Spoleto: The pathway to La Rocca 

Favorite artistic medium: Oil  

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Kayli

Favorite place in Spoleto: The book store on the way to the convent.

Favorite artistic medium: Pen 

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Riley 

Favorite place in Spoleto: Piazza Mercato 

Favorite artistic medium: Water color  

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Faculty Performances 

This morning, students gathered in the performance space, Sant'Agata, for the second faculty performance. Faculty members showcased what they have been working on in their respective disciplines. 

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Talent Show! 

After dinner, students showcased their unique talents at tonight's talent show. Their talents included everything from singing to magic tricks. 

Chloe singing "Bad Religion" by Frank Ocean

Chloe singing "Bad Religion" by Frank Ocean

Tom playing "I Fall Apart" on the piano 

Tom playing "I Fall Apart" on the piano 

Emelia doing doing a magic trick with cards 

Emelia doing doing a magic trick with cards 

Beatrice singing and playing the ukulele 

Beatrice singing and playing the ukulele 

Laura singing "She Used to be Mine" 

Laura singing "She Used to be Mine" 

Elle singing an original song, "Back Home" 

Elle singing an original song, "Back Home" 

Emma singing "King" 

Emma singing "King" 

A Trip to Ostia and Tivoli

What a great day of travel! We started the day with a bus ride to Ostia Antica, the ancient port city for Rome. There, students explored the archaeological site and experienced a working Roman town. After learning about the town from Alison, the Arts and Ideas instructor, students had free time to explore the baths, the courtyard of guilds, and the Roman houses.

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After visiting Ostia Antica, we hopped back on the bus and took a quick drive to Tivoli. In Tivoli, students explored the Villa d'Este, a Renaissance villa. Andrea, the Italian teacher, explained the history of the family that built the Villa. The gardens and fountains were breathtaking, and the students were amazed.

Here is what they had to say about their experience today: 

Gwyn's favorite part of the day: Seeing the fountains with my friends

Chloe's favorite part of the day: Seeing all the fountains in the Villa

Meg's favorite part of the day: Eating pizza with Ethan, Kaden, and Peili

Meredith's favorite part of the day: Eating lemon gelato

Zoë's favorite part of the day: Relaxing by the fountains after a hot day

Olivia's favorite part of the day: Exploring the ruins at Ostia with Mr. Muti

Emelia's favorite part of the day: Exploring around the garden and feeling the cool breeze from the waterfalls.

Renee's favorite part of the day: Walking through the garden to look at all of the fountains

Jonah's favorite part of the day: Walking through the gardens

Kylie's favorite part of the day: Seeing all the fountains

Laura's favorite part of the day: The Tivoli gardens were so beautiful, I really enjoyed it!

Beatrice's favorite part of the day: I enjoyed seeing the fountains as well as the potato pizza I got nearby.

Riley's favorite part of the day: I really loved the gardens and getting to see the inside of the Villa and also getting to hang out with the teachers at a nearby restaurant

Adelaide's favorite part of the day: our late lunch with the teachers

Elle's favorite part of our day: Getting caught in the rain and seeking shelter in a Roman outhouse. 

Kaden's favorite part of day: exploring the gardens at the Villa

Ethan's favorite part of the day: Learning the history of the Este family

Callie's favorite part of the day: Eating lunch with the Fellows

Peili's Favorite part of the day: The garden

Tom's favorite part of the day: Being able to have an extended amount of time to take in all of the beauty of the fountains and gardens at the Villa d’Este

Susana's favorite part of the day: Going around the villa looking and taking pictures around the fountains.

Carly's favorite part of the day: The amazing fountains at the villa

Aida's favorite part of the day: I found a blackberry bush in a field in Ostia, and they were delicious. 

Kayli's favorite part of the day: Aida and I found an empty field with blackberries and poppies, so we laid down until the rain started to pour down. The tranquility of it all will be something I remember.

Emma Unglaub's favorite part of the day: the moment when, during my exploration of the gardens at the Villa d'Este, I came around a bend and saw the biggest fountain overlooking the pools of fish. The sight was so beautiful and unexpected, I actually gasped. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Gabe's favorite part of the day: Seeing the the amount of detail put in on the fountains at Tivoli. Another moment was after Tivoli talking with Sarah, the photography teacher, at the Gelateria.

Emma Thains' favorite part of the day: Exploring the ancient ruins of Ostia Antica

Sarah's favorite part of the day: Exploring the beautiful fountains

Taylor's favorite part of the day: Seeing the amazing fountains and gardens

Spotlight: Vocal and Instrumental Music

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At the end of this full week of classes, the students followed their regular schedule for the day. Andrea, our Italian instructor, led the students into lower Spoleto to discover even more of the town. Friday is market day in Spoleto, so students got to experience the fun and chaos of a long stretch of vendors selling everything from clothing to fresh fruit and veggies. The day ended with another delicious dinner at the Clitunno followed by our second performance class, where we heard from students studying vocal music, photography, and visual art. To finish our performance class, Dr. Jan Guffin spoke to the students about the importance of creativity in artistic expression and read one of his personal essays from twenty years ago (the beginning Spoleto Study Abroad). 

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Spotlight: Vocal and Instrumental Music

It’s hard to believe that we’re coming to the end of our second week of classes, lessons and rehearsals here in Spoleto – the time is flying by! This week we staged/blocked our opera and musical theater scenes, and will be refining up until the final performance on July 29. We had a performance class on Tuesday evening July 17, and will have another one on Friday night with more singers presenting their soloistic work. We also had the pleasure on Thursday evening July 19  of hearing pianist Laura Magnani, originally from Spoleto, Italy,  but now based in the Bay area, performing Debussy, Schumann and Chopin in concert at Sant’Agata.

All of our music students continue with a wide variety of morning classes designed to stretch them physically, musically, and emotionally. In this week's opera history session, Lorenzo introduced the operas of Mozart and Rossini. They are also all making great strides in choir rehearsal, where we are getting through the stage of learning notes and rhythms and are now working toward a beautiful, unified sound across the ensemble. In our first week of performance classes, both string players performed a chamber work by Dvorak with Niccolo and two of our singers performed - one an Italian art song and another a Broadway selection.

 

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Spotlight: Visual Arts

Students continued with another day of classes. In the morning Lorenzo led the class to La Rocca, the castle, and explained the complex history of this beautiful hilltop fortress. 

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Lorenzo explained that the castle was originally built as a fortress in the 13th century, but then was transformed into a summer residence for the wealthy (including a number of popes). It was later transformed again into a maximum security prison, and finally became a museum about 30 years ago.

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Students enjoyed the view from the hilltop upon which La Rocca sits.

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Spotlight: Visual Arts

Claire Lerner

After putting into practice new drawing techniques for their self-portraits, visual art students were eager to experiment with a variety of paint brushes and media, including acrylic and oil paint, and charcoal. Students learned basic and advanced painting techniques such as working dark to light, and lean to fat. They also learned under painting techniques and the importance of “blocking in” your painting before adding detail and top layers of paint. Students also learned how to “work across the color wheel” using complements and saturated and unsaturated color. This practice was quickly put into place while working on their portraits.  

An informal critique was held “mid-project” outdoors in the beautiful early evening light of Spoleto, encouraging and supporting the success of each student’s work. Students are also working on their Spoleto city scene sketches, which are in the process of being developed into larger finished work.

This week, visiting artist and college Art History and Studio Arts professor Paul Roehl gave Visual Arts students a college-level one hour slide lecture on the history of art and the aesthetic experience. He also talked about the history of landscape painting and discussed and presented his own work.

Beach Day!

Ciao!

Today we ventured out of Spoleto and made our way to the Adriatic. Students enjoyed the sun and water while relaxing on beach chairs under umbrellas in San Benedetto del Tronto. We spent the day swimming, going for walks, eating seafood and gelato, and playing games.

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After a wonderful day at the beach, we stopped for pizza on our way back to Spoleto. Not only did we have amazing pizza and dessert, we also had a stunning view and colorful sunset.

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Spotlight: Creative Writing and Screen Writing

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Today was an eventful day for students! This morning in their arts and Ideas class, faculty member Dr. Jan Guffin took students on a field trip to a local store in Spoleto. After learning about the history of the store, students had time to look around and purchase souvenirs such as custom-made journals, leather belts, and wax stamps.

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Then, students walked across the street to a local cafe for coffee and class. Yesterday students did several writing exercises where they focused on writing fluency. They discussed the difference between looking and existing. Today at the cafe, students each shared one of their pieces of writing from yesterday's class. Students loved the opportunity to explore and have class in a new location. 

Students sharing their writing

Students sharing their writing

After dinner tonight, faculty and students gathered in the performance space for performance class. During this time students have an opportunity to share what they have been focusing on in class as well as their work in progress. All of the students are incredibly talented! It was clear how dedicated they are and how hard they have been working.

 

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Spotlight: Screen Writing 

FADE IN

INT. CLASSROOM - DAY

The room is average size, stocked with chalk, crayons, charts, the materials you would find in a third grade classroom. It seems like the kind of classroom that would have internet access, but maybe not.

WARREN, the teacher, looks somewhat capable.  But maybe not. 

The students - MIRANDA, KYLIE, BEA and GABE - appear wildly capable. We’ll see.

WARREN  

I have to do this blog-thingy.  You know, about stuff you’ve learned in class.

Students groan. 

WARREN

They want to know if you’ve learned anything.

Another groan, deeper and longer.

WARREN

What do you think? Have you learned anything?

BEA

Ah...

KYLIE

Sort of.

MEREDITH

Guess so.

GABE

Have you seen Arrested Development?

WARREN

No.

MIRANDA

Every film must have a protagonist, a hero, someone the audience follows.

GABE

It’s his, the protagonist’s, story.

KYLIE

Or her’s.

GABE

Right.  That’s what I meant.  His or hers.  Have you seen Whiplash?

WARREN

No.

BEA

Every protagonist must have an objective.  Really important, the objective.

MEREDITH

Something he or she wants.   That’s the objective.  Like in Up, Carl, the old man, wants to go to Paradise Falls.

KYLIE

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wants to go home, Kansas.

GABE

Some films don’t have a protagonist with an objective.

WARREN

Name one.

Gabe gives Warren a dirty look.  Gabe’s thinking.

BEA

The protagonist must be passionate about the objective.  Going after it makes her active.

KYLIE

And the protagonist must be active, which is why the writer gives her an objective - something to chase.

GABE

An inactive protagonist is boring.  Have you seen Pulp Fiction?

WARREN

No.

MEREDITH

I like the Inciting Incident.  I didn’t know about that before.

GABE

(bored)

The inciting incident happens near the end of act one.  It sets the story in motion.

BEA

It changes the protagonist’s life forever, nothing will ever be the same. 

MEREDITH

Romeo sees and falls in love with Juliette.

KYLIE

Shark eats girl.  The sheriff’s life will never be the same. 

GABE

Have you seen Jaws?

WARREN

No. 

BEA

Legally Blond, her boyfriend breaks up with her. He’s going to Harvard Law School.  So, she goes after him.

MEREDITH

Girl wants boy.  Boy’s the objective.

KYLIE

Inciting incident and objective all wrapped up in one.  Cool.

WARREN

So, act one - meet protagonist, set up objective, nail down inciting incident.

KYLIE

Act two is just obstacles, a bunch of stuff that keeps the protagonist from reaching the objective.

GABE

Weird, the writer gives the protagonist an objective.  Then, makes it nearly impossible to get.

WARREN

All drama is conflict.

BEA

The antagonist tries to stop the protagonist from reaching the objective.  More conflict.

GABE

Also, the protagonist should have a flaw, which he or she corrects in the second act.

MEREDITH

Carl is, like, a mean old man at the end of the first act.

WARREN

And by the end of Up?

KYLIE

He’s like a father to Russell.

GABE

What’s the objective in Jaws?

WARREN

The shark.  What else could it be?

GABE

Thought you said you hadn’t seen it.

Warren glares at Gabe.

Meredith snickers.

Gabe looks like he just scored a goal.

WARREN

Want to watch Spider-Man?

MEREDITH, KYLIE, BEA

Yeah, cool.

GABE

Have you seen Spider-Man II?

WARREN 

No.  Hey, think the other classes wish they got to watch movies during class?

KYLIE

Are you kidding?

BEA

Of course.  They’re, like, dying.

GABE

Can we watch Spider-Man II next?

WARREN

No.

Warren puts DVD in.

WARREN

So, you did learn something?

KYLIE

Maybe.

MEREDITH

Guess so.

BEA

Sort of.

GABE

Can you go to wide screen?

FADE OUT

THE END

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Spotlight: Creative Writing 

Since last week, the creative writing students have dived deeper into the elements of fiction writing: namely characters, place, and the construction of scenes. The town proved to be a great resource as students pulled characters and settings directly from Spoletino daily life.

Equipped with this new perspective on the art of writing fiction, students turned a critical eye on their own previous work in Monday’s workshop. They’re now preparing to revise and re-imagine their own stories – starting from scratch, with the goal being to elevate and amplify the core tensions, characters and themes beating at the story’s heart.

Today in class we talked about layering, about the stories that appear within stories, and how those layers interact with and better one another. Finally we completed an exercise on beginnings, focusing specifically on the first two sentences.

Students shared their story beginnings at tonight’s Performance Class, and are preparing to share a longer work with the SSA community by the end of the week.

 

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Spotlight: Photography

This evening we planned to feature our first Student Performance Workshop, which is an opportunity for students to showcase their work in progress. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating, and we decided to postpone our evening plans.  We returned to the convent and called it a night.  All students are currently enjoying some downtime through the storm in their rooms.  Despite the interruption of the weather, it was a beautiful day in Spoleto!

Spotlight: Photography

Sara Kerr, Faculty:

"After completing their first assignment on the technical aspects of the camera and composition strategies, students are now working on their second assignment, which is focused on street photography and environmental portraiture.

We started this assignment by looking at some of the great street and portrait photographers: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Paul Strand, Helen Levitt and Walker Evans... to name just a few. We then went out to practice some of the strategies that we had learned about at the local clothing market. Photographing active street life proved to have many great challenges and we talked through these in our class critique. 

Some of the things that we learned included how to be discrete and blend in with a camera and how to take photographs in non-obvious ways. We also learned about how to wait for a subject to enter the frame, how to be patient and observant in a busy environment, and how to pick out characters and interesting stories in the bustle of daily life. 

Over the last few days students have had the chance to observe and to photograph street life in Spoleto and in Florence, and they will have a chance to finish this project with our beach trip on Wednesday.

We are also, along the way, learning about selecting and editing images in Bridge and Photoshop. 

It has been very busy in the photo classroom!" 

Sunday Funday!

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We had a wonderful, restful Sunday here in Spoleto! In the morning, students had several options of supplemental activities to choose from, including a hike, a trip to the cemetery with Jan, a swim in the public pool, going to church (and hearing Angelo play the organ), and helping the nuns around the convent. We had a delicious Sundaylunch at the Clitunno (vegetarian lasagna - one of their specialties) and an afternoon off to explore, do some laundry, and rest. After dinner, we heard some of the faculty perform at our first faculty recital. Since today is the final day of the Spoleto Festival, we were treated to a wonderful firework show to finish the evening!

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Student Spotlight: Vocal and Instrumental Music

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Chloe

Favorite thing eaten:
Vegetable soup with pasta

Favorite part of class: Getting to listen to Lorenzo talk about the art and architecture in his hometown - it feels much more organic than a normal lecture.

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Callie

Favorite thing eaten: Lemon gelato

Favorite part of class: Doing fairy tale tableaux in movement class

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Elle

Favorite thing eaten: Pistacchio gelato

Favorite part of class: Angelo, our fabulous accompanist

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Emma

Favorite thing eaten: Cherry gelato

Favorite part of class: Movement classes

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Adelaide

Favorite thing eaten: Pasta with vodka sauce on the first day 

Favorite part of class: Duets and Angelo

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Kaden

Favorite thing eaten: Pasta with vodka sauce on the first day

Favorite part of class: Ability to practice on my own and have freedom to work on what I need to work on

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Laura

Favorite thing eaten: Prosciutto sandwich with delicious cheese and eggplant

Favorite part of class: Private lessons

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Gwyn

Favorite thing eaten: Cream puff from a bakery in Spoleto

Favorite part of class: Practicing my Mozart duet with Elle

Jill, Niccolo, and Angelo

Jill, Niccolo, and Angelo

Simona

Simona

Jill, Laura, and Angelo

Jill, Laura, and Angelo

A Sunny Day in Florence!

We had a wonderful trip to Florence today!  We started the visit with a stop at Piazzale Michelangelo, giving us a beautiful overlook of the city from a hill across the river. 

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We then made our way to San Marco, a Dominican church an convent.  There we looked at some gorgeous manuscripts and the beautiful work of Fra Angelico.

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Next, we walked to La Chiesa di Santa Maria Novella, which famously houses Masaccio's Holy Trinity.  We then walked to the the Duomo, and had a couple of hours of free time to explore the city.  Students enjoyed seeing the city and finding some treasures in the leather market!  Afterwards, we took the bus back to Spoleto for a relaxing evening!

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Spotlight: Music

Today was a regular class day here in Spoleto, but we ended the evening with a ballet performance as part of the Festival dei Due Mondi (the famous Spoleto festival with a partner festival in Charleston, SC). The Hamburg Ballet performed several pieces, one of which featured live music by Chopin. The performance took place outdoors in the Roman Theater, so we got to experience some of the ancient history of Spoleto at the same time. 

Today was a regular class day here in Spoleto, but we ended the evening with a ballet performance as part of the Festival dei Due Mondi (the famous Spoleto festival with a partner festival in Charleston, SC). The Hamburg Ballet performed several pieces, one of which featured live music by Chopin. The performance took place outdoors in the Roman Theater, so we got to experience some of the ancient history of Spoleto at the same time. 

Spotlight: Vocal and Instrumental Music

Spotlight: Vocal and Instrumental Music

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We have a fantastic group of musicians at Spoleto Study Abroad this year! All of the music students spend an hour together each morning. The morning class ranges from movement and acting class to music theory and history of opera. 

Each afternoon begins with choir, where we are learning a wide range of music including a piece by a 17th-century nun, a Mendelssohn trio, and some Rodgers and Hammerstein. Our rehearsals take place in the Chiesa di Sant’Agata, and the acoustics are glorious! Angelo, an incredible local organist and composer, accompanies the choir and coaches the singers in their solo and duets work. After choir, the instrumentalists meet with Niccolo for private instruction.

The rest of the evening classes for the singers are divided into private voice lessons and work on their operatic and musical theater duets. Each singer has a duet from Le Nozze di Figaro, so this week we have focused on proper Italian pronunciation and solidifying the technical elements of the music. Next week, we will start blocking. The singers have all been incredibly supportive of one another, which makes all of our music-making that much better. It’s a great, talented, funny, and kind group of young women!

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Spotlight: Visual Arts

We had yet another wonderful day of classes and exploration. After morning classes, students followed Lorenzo, the Art and Architecture instructor, to the Casa Romana (Roman House) here in Spoleto. There, they learned about some of the specifics of a Roman house and Roman living.

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After visiting the Casa Romana, students continued their classes, enjoyed lunch at the Clitunna, spent their freetime in the afternoon around the town or at the covent, and finished the day with evening classes and dinner.

 

Spotlight: Visual Arts

Claire Lerner – Instructor

"The idea of conceptual versus naturalistic drawing was introduced to the visual arts students through a series of fun and enriching studio-drawing exercises. We began the week with blind contour drawings of fellow students, followed by a slowly revealed upside down drawing. These warm up exercises develop the student’s powers of careful observation and facilitate an understanding of the difference between conceptual art and really seeing. Visual art students took a quick field trip to the local Spoleto art store where they were exposed to the endless possibilities of media available.               

We spent some time looking at and discussing art from the Italian Renaissance, including the Proto-Renaissance, Renaissance, and High Renaissance. The work of important artists such as Brunelleschi and Masaccio, along with many others, was discussed in the context of that same progression toward naturalism introduced earlier in the studio work.

During the next three weeks, students will be working with one point and two point perspective as they go out and sketch scenes of Spoleto.  Sitting outside and quietly drawing develops a keen sense of observation along with sensitivity of their immediate surroundings. Students were surprised to find that they attracted casual observers as they worked. This contact with the public also encouraged the students to try out their newly acquired Italian language skills on several occasions.

Students will develop one of these outdoor sketches into a final drawing and then into a finished painting back in the art studio. Students have also been introduced to the history of Italian portraiture and have studied the proportions of the face and will be creating a self-portrait from life in a media of their choice."

Travel to Siena

Today we left bright and early for our day trip to Siena! After a long drive, we headed into the center of the city for a tour led by Andrea, our Italian instructor. The tour began at the Duomo, which has elaborate decorations outside and inside (including two pieces by Donatello). The Duomo also includes a beautiful library full of chant manuscripts with ornate illustrations. 

 

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Next, we walked to Piazza del Campo, a shell-shaped piazza at the center of Siena. Each year, this huge piazza turns into the site of the Palio, a horse race between representatives of the different neighborhoods of Siena (the contrade). Andrea took us into the Palazzo Pubblico, the center of Siena’s government. This building has nine rooms with elaborate frescoes, and we focused on a room commemorating the Risorgimento and a room depicting the effects of good and bad government. 

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After the “official” tour was over, students had free time to explore the city in smaller groups. They were challenged to take pictures with their contrade (for our Spoleto Study Abroad Palio, they’ve been divided into teams) in the neighborhood of their contrade. Many students enjoyed some of the local cuisine and gelato, and some climbed all the way to the top of the tower in the Palazzo Pubblico! 

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The day ended with a quiet bus ride home, another wonderful dinner at the Clitunno, and some time to relax afterward. 

Spotlight: Creative Writing and Screen Writing

Classes are officially in full swing! Students have been hard at work learning, exploring and creating within their perspective disciplines. It is exciting to see them light up when they talk about what they are doing in their classes. It is clear that they are passionate about what they are learning.  

Aida, Photography Student 

Aida, Photography Student 

Today, visual arts students enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery and took class outside. As they were working, two Italian children came up to Kayli, visual arts student, and asked if they could draw in her sketchbook. Kayli allowed the two girls to draw and it was a beautiful way for them to get to know each other. Since Kayli doesn't speak Italian and the children do not speak English, they communicated through drawing. Kayli learned that the little girls have chickens that live in a chicken coop and a pool at their house. Kayli shared with the girls that she is an American student who loves art. 

Kayli, Visual Arts Student

Kayli, Visual Arts Student

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John Warren, Screen Writing Faculty:

"Story, story, story...   Structure, structure, structure...  Why does Mr. Warren keep repeating himself?   What’s his problem?   Doesn’t he know it’s more fun, you know, just to kind of make stories up as you go along?  Also, frankly, does he really know what he’s talking about with all this ‘building the story, one protagonist, one objective’ stuff?  I’m not so sure.  Besides, this is starting to feel like work or, as Warren says, craft.  

Nevertheless, he might be right.  It kind of makes sense.  I mean, we are watching films.  That’s fun/interesting.  These films do have a protagonist with a flaw, an objective and all that other story stuff - believe it or not.  And we are going to write scripts for short films.  That could be good.  

This afternoon we pitch stories for the movies we want to write.  I dread that.  But, maybe, it might be fun.  I hope Mr. Warren’s not too big a pain about, you know, story, story, story, structure, structure, structure.  But he might be.  We’ll see!"

Students in Screen Writing Class 

Students in Screen Writing Class 

John Warren, Screen Writing Teacher 

John Warren, Screen Writing Teacher 

AJ Fitzgerald, Creative Writing Faculty: 

In the last two days we’ve started from very fundamental principles of language and storytelling. We read essays on the difference between representation and the thing being represented, on the nature of words, symbols and icons, and how these acquire meaning.

This morning we spoke about the realm of experience vs. the realm of storytelling: how some events and objects bring baggage with them when transferred into the world of fiction, while others leave a piece of their significance and meaning behind when stripped of their real-world contexts.

So far we’ve worked to illustrate these points with essays by Scott McCloud and Charles Baxter, stories by Aimee Bender and Tim O’Brien, as well as writing exercises both in and outside the classroom.

Starting Thursday we’ll dive more specifically into elements of fiction-writing: characterization, setting, time and story clocks, narration and framing. All the while students will be thinking toward their two main projects: a new original short story of their own, and a major revision of a previous work.

Creative Writing Students Working Outside 

Creative Writing Students Working Outside 

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