On Saturday, Dipika Guha brilliantly led a class unpacking the elements of a play. After an intellectual discussion about what makes up a play, we were given seven common elements to incorporate into all of our plays. Inspired by New Orleans, these included busking in the streets, a mule, and elevated cemeteries. We were given until the following morning to write a complete play, with a beginning, middle and end. Welcoming the challenge, some of us cozied into our writing corners in our NOLA house, and others took their notebooks and pens in their pockets, setting off on the ferry to explore what inspiration the New Orleans streets had to offer. Several of us went out to dinner at the infamous COOP’S Place, where the food is delicious and the servers are, well, let’s just say,…characters! I recommend the jambalaya (it takes five hours to make, and our server swore it was the reason that he got a job there).
On Sunday morning, we all gathered around the table and toasted to our writing with mimosas. Then, we all read through our plays, casting each other for dramatic readings. It was truly amazing to see the depth and scope of work that could come out of a single bake off.
After we buttoned up our rooms and said our farewells on the big, welcoming porch of our historic New Orleans home, we set off with new writing goals and some new tools to apply to our manuscripts. Those of us with some time to spare before our flights went to the French market to sift through the beautiful jewelry from around the world and taste decadent crepes and pralines. (Recommendations: Rum Pralines and Banana-Chocolate-Peanut butter-Bacon Crepes).
On the way to the airport, I called one our trusty cabbies we had gotten to know over our time in NOLA, and he pointed out where the Voodo Lady lives, the ghost town areas of NOLA, and recounted his own story of Hurricane Katrina. I was thankful for his kindness, and for all the generosity and creativity blooming in New Orleans!
Au Revoir New Orleans, we love you, and we will be back!
–Diana Norma Szokolyai
New Orleans, March 26, 2017