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27 February 2024

Posted by By Harley Truslove


Today we got together to work on some of the things that we could perform at LitFest. We were working on quickfire prompts in order to generate some ideas. 

In order to get us started, Holly showed us ten portraits of different people, from Kehinde Wiley’s ‘Equestrian Portrait of Philip IV’ to ‘Nighthawks’ by Edward Hopper. After viewing them she brought up a numberwheel and assigned each portrait a number from 1-10, getting a spin for everyone so they could work off of a different picture.

In portraits where there were multiple subjects, our writers were encouraged to pick one (unfortunately not the horse in ‘Equestrian Portrait’) and then were asked a few questions to answer about the people in the paintings:

  • What do they want at this moment in time?

  • What did their morning look like?

  • What is their relationship to the others in the photos? If there are no others, what is the relationship to the others in their life?

  • What is one of their flaws and how does it show up in this photo?

  • (If you’re struggling with flaws, run their internal monologue and see if that helps!)

  • What is one of their strengths and how does that show up?

  • What is their overall want?

Here are some of the responses:

#1 - the woman feels trapped, wants to get out of her life. And trapped physically, too?

#10 - a little girl and her dad are out on a boat, she’s learning how to sail, but she’s independent and frustrated that she can’t do it already. Her little hands find it hard to grip the oar. 

(One with reflection over shoulder sorry i did not get the number) She wants for this creepy man to leave her alone. She also hates the pomp and grandeur of her situation and longs to find a kindred spirit. 

Equestrian Portrait - the young man is ambitious and powerful, face high up, looking like old military leaders. 

Glitterlady - this lady had a bad morning and is lost in her own thoughts, having a bit of a crisis. She wants someone to help her. Are the things around her mirror shards? Fractured thoughts?

Nighthawks - the lady is ‘vaguely alcoholic, looks sassy, giving Mean Girls’. She seems to have a lot of power in the scene. 

After our discussion, the writers were given 15 minutes to write the story of this person. They could pick prose, poetry, a story, a monologue, or just freewrite.

In order to give the next write a bit of direction, we spun the number wheel again, this time with each number corresponding to their hierarchical status. (For example, 10=high status, 1=very low status). 

Some of the things the group came up with:

The lady in the diner is very annoyed by the lighting. She reminisces about how her wife was murdered and sees a reflection of her auburn hair in her beer glass, thinking about how tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and she will be celebrating alone. Her grief drives her to murder everyone in the little red diner. 

We also had the lady surrounded by fragments having a conversation over the phone with her daughter, feeling the heaviness of an empty nest now she’s left overseas. 

A grown woman, looking back on rowing with her father, reminisces about her first time learning to sail as a little girl. 

Then the writers picked a snippet of their story that they might want to read out loud, and rewrote it to three different pieces of music to see how the song would change the mood.

  • Peripetie - arnold schoenberg

  • Edward grieg - morning mood

  • I can’t fight this feeling any more - REO Speedwagon

We got some great pieces of work! Here’s a snippet of one:

The blade was cool in her hands, the sharpened steel prepared her for the worst. Andrew, the server, was pouring another drink when the knife plunged into his back, the blood bubbling and gurgling over Emma’s new manicure. She had bitten each acrylic off, the pain just motivating her, the blood trickling down her already crimson hands. The other customers were too far gone to care.


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