Some years ago my friend Steve and I went to Esalen and took a writing workshop with Ann Randolph. It was one of the better learning experiences of my life. Whether you consider yourself a writer, a baker or a candlestick maker, if you get a chance check her out. She really is transformative. And a whole lotta fun.
Usually I write my own posts, but instead I am going to copy an email she sent out that I hope will be of benefit to you.
"It’s 2006, and I am teaching my first “Write Your Life” workshop in a small studio space in Santa Monica. On the first day of class, a man who looks like Jesus shows up to study with me. He has long, dark, wavy hair covering his face, wears a black trench coat and is drinking some weird concoction of kale and kombucha long before kale and kombucha were the diet of every Los Angeles millennial.
I think, who is this strange dude?
He takes a seat in the circle and introduces himself as Joshua Townshend-Zellner. When it’s his turn to read his writing, he doesn’t. Instead, he improvises an impromptu monologue and blows us all away. For the next two years, Joshua studies with me, and every time he reads or improvises in class, I am completely in awe of the level of consciousness coming through his work.
One day he asks if I’d like help with my new play LOVELAND. I’m a little reluctant because he’s my student and I don’t want to overstep my boundaries, but truth be told I’m stuck, and I’ve also witnessed his genius and creativity, so I say, YES. The show is opening soon in San Francisco and a critical scene is not working.
The following day we meet to rehearse. He transforms the rehearsal space into the interior of an airplane (where LOVELAND takes place) and coaches me within a structured improvisation of his creation. The improvisation exercise unlocks me and I immediately find the solution to where I’m stuck. He then helps me find more layers to Frannie Potts, the main character of LOVELAND, by expanding my physical vocabulary and emotional life. After three hours of his masterful coaching, I know I have found my teacher. Over the next several years, Joshua goes on to direct LOVELAND for the Arena Stage in Washington DC, and then guides me with INAPPROPRIATE IN ALL THE RIGHT WAYS for a run at the Marsh in SF. It’s been over 12 years and our collaborations continue to this day.
Students often ask me for advice on living a creative life and I encourage them to find someone who champions their artistry and challenges them to break new creative ground. For me, that person is Joshua Townshend-Zellner."
I like the idea of finding someone who champions your artistry and challenges you to break new creative ground. Sometimes you need to look within to find that person. Whether you look within or without in order to have a teacher you need to be a student.