Books

Words that come fast and furious

David Pérez explains how theatrical improvisation techniques can help struggling writers

By Dena Miller
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 1/8/20

"The possibilities are endless when our body, voice and imagination are fully engaged in making the written word come alive," said Taos author/activist David Pérez, who will be sharing his love of both storytelling and performance this weekend at a workshop hosted by the Society of the Muse of the Southwest.

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Books

Words that come fast and furious

David Pérez explains how theatrical improvisation techniques can help struggling writers

Posted

Let's take a minute and play with words, both those which are written and that which is spoken. How about starting with the word "love," a simple four-letter word, recognizable on this printed page by all. Now, say it out loud in different ways. Whisper it as a sweet endearment; then, grit your teeth, roll your eyes and make it a sarcasm. Then, sandwich the word between some giggles and make it irreverent. Totally different meanings from the same four letters, right?

"The possibilities are endless when our body, voice and imagination are fully engaged in making the written word come alive," said Taos author/activist David Pérez, who will be sharing his love of both storytelling and performance this weekend at a workshop hosted by the Society of the Muse of the Southwest.

"Improv for Poets and Writers" is scheduled for Saturday (Jan. 11) from 2-5 p.m. at the SOMOS Salon and Bookstore, 108 Civic Plaza Drive. Pérez will guide attendees through a series of exercises including improvisation, theater games and vocal/body exercises to demonstrate the many ways reading one's work out loud can make the words come alive in exciting and unexpected ways.

Whether you consider yourself a student of words or not, there's a whole lot to be mined here. "This is a delightful and fun workshop, one I've taken myself several times," SOMOS Executive Director Jan Smith said. "It's a magical blend of theater and improvisation that works with any genre of writing -- enhancing characters, voices and emotions by playing with different approaches to a writer's work."

"These are the tools that can help us uncover meaning and intent, get in touch with a character's emotions and motivations, develop strong points of view and choose details that are specific and important," Pérez affirmed. "Those who plan on attending should bring a brief, two-minute written piece to read aloud and we'll all have fun working with it. Any genre or experience level is welcome."

The multitalented Pérez -- writer, actor, radio host and teacher -- released his first book, "Wow!" in 2011 to wide acclaim. The "'memoirito' of boyhood and Catholic school" went on to be named a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for multicultural nonfiction, was honorably mentioned in the comedy category by Latino Books into Movies Awards and was named one of the "Top Ten Latino Authors to Watch and Read in 2012" by latinostories.com. In 2013, the book was awarded a Gold Medal in multicultural nonfiction by that year's Global Ebook Awards.

"I grew up as part of the first generation of Puerto Ricans born and raised in New York City. We lived in the South Bronx projects -- the Mill Brook Houses -- while I navigated my way through Catholic junior high school, which comprises much of the storyline for 'Wow!' I termed [it] a 'memoirito' because of its novella length, and because it captures a Latino experience in tight, funny and engaging language, with lots of dialogue and quirky characters, including myself, of course," Pérez laughed.

His 2017 follow-up, "Wow! 2," continued with Pérez's adventures in high school and into the Bronx street culture, where salsa, rap and slam poetry combined with drugs in a heady mix that made studying look anemic and unnecessary.

"I was a top student and a serious athlete before I succumbed to the magnetic pull of the streets, and its adventure and rupture," he said. Yet, he graduated, got married, had a daughter, got divorced, joined and separated from the Navy, and, ultimately, "discovered the radical politics of the Workers World Party for which I began reporting and, eventually, becoming the managing editor of their weekly socialist newspaper."

"But, my first foray into writing was at the age of 15, when I wrote this short story, 'As the City Sleeps,' which featured my buddies and me as a neighborhood gang called the Dirty Dozen, taking on the mafia and getting most of our butts killed. I hand-wrote all of it, and my brother George -- future famous comic book artist -- drew the cover."

His wry humor and mastery of storytelling in all its forms has served Pérez well in what clearly became his life's work. "It wasn't in my boyhood plans to be a writer; it just happened," he said. And those who have been the beneficiaries of his workshops or private coaching sessions are grateful it did.

"David, as our other facilitators, brings tremendous energy to SOMOS," Smith said. Along with its board and other staff members, she said they have ensured that the nonprofit has become "a respected literary resource center whose outreach extends to the greater community of Northern New Mexico -- and beyond. Our live readings, workshops, conferences and festivals not only showcase accomplished writers but also encourage creativity in novice writers from all walks of life," according to its website.

SOMOS also hosts the annual Taos Writers Conference ,which attracts an internationally acclaimed faculty for a summer weekend dedicated to workshops, roundtables and intensives. "We're looking to add additional spring and fall semesters of similar work and are developing those faculties," Smith said, "and we've tentatively named it the Taos Institute of Writing." No surprise in a tiny mountain town renowned for its strong ties to the creative minds of our lifetimes and beyond.

"Better that [as a community] we keep trying to listen to everyone's story. Our stories are our truth - and how much further can we get by understanding each other that way," Pérez pondered. And he's here to help you figure it out, while having a whole lot of fun doing so.

Tickets for the workshop are $60, $50 for SOMOS members, and you may check availability by calling (575) 758-0081 or visiting somostaos.org. Ask to be put on the waiting list if tickets are unavailable because Pérez will surely host a similar event in the future.

Visit davidperezwow.com for more information on this writer.

Comments


Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.