August 17 – Suspense, Experiments, and Secret Passageways au Château de Verderonne

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 a treat.  After a walk through the woods, we carefully ventured down the ivy and thorn covered stone steps, holding hands, taking care not to step on the slugs and precious escargot!  Then, we walked through a dark tunnel guarded by many spiders and stared down into the depths of what looked like an oubliette.  It was eerie to imagine the ice stored here centuries ago, people navigating their way here with oil lamps to scrape nature’s simple delicacy for some rich man’s table.

Then, on our way back, we saw a hideout called a “muche” in the old Picard language.  Now gated, these underground dwellings served as temporary shelters and storage cellars when military raids would plague the region.  It was a very interesting walk, and we were all inspired by the mystery in the air whilst exploring these secret passageways and ivy-grown tunnels long forgotten.

– Diana Norma Szokolyai, Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Artistic Director


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  1. Pingback: Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2014 Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne | Rita Banerjee

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