Beacon, December 22-28, 2011 page 27, 33
The Write Stuff: aspiring script writers hone their skills in a 15-week Harlem workshop
Harlem Arts Alliance Dramatic Writing Workshop is a boot camp for would-be play, movie and TV script writers
Originally Published: Wednesday, November 9 2011, 6:00 PM
Mariela Lombard/for New York Daily News
Eddie Pomerantz, standng, center, director of the Harlem Arts Alliance Dramatic Writing Workshop, with workshop members, standing, from left, Judianny Compres, Voza Rivers, Letitia Guillory and David Wright. Kneeling, from left, A.W. McKnight, Lillian Santos and Clayton Broomes, Jr.
If there is an equivalent of a Marine boot camp for writers in our town it's The Harlem Arts Alliance Dramatic Writing Workshop.
The regimen is a killer: 15 weeks of weekly, five-hour classes. The dozens of aspiring play, television and movie script writers who enroll in it agree to produce 20 pages of copy per week.
They bring those pages to class, where each student reads their work aloud to the class for their classmates to critique.
They then have face time with the course instructors who offer more criticism, only this time “line by line, word by word,” said Edward Pomerantz, Columbia University professor and screenwriting instructor.
“We don’t kid around,” Pomerantz said. “The goal is to nail it and get it right, and that takes rewriting and rewriting and rewriting.”
The rewriting doesn’t count toward that 20-page per week production total, by the way, which means students could have to produce 40 or more pages of copy a week.
All this while most are working full-time jobs to pay the bills.
Yet Academy students Clayton Broomes Jr., Judianny Compres, Letitia Guillory, A. W. McKnight, Lillian Santos and David D. Wright say they count themselves lucky to have found the classes.
“I cannot put into words how profound and important it is to have this resource in our community,” said Compres, an actress - she’s currently appearing as comedian Eddie Murphy’s love interest in the just-released movie “Tower Heist” - and a Harlem resident.
“The writer Junot Diaz said the easiest way to create a monster is to not represent a human being in a society, to not give someone a voice,” Compres said. “That is what we do in this workshop. We give people in our community a voice. We represent the characters we interact with on a daily basis.”
Some Academy alums have gone on to commercial success: Though commercial success is important - student Taiye Selasi has Hollywood movie deals on two screenplays she developed in the workshop, and has inked a two-book deal with Penguin books, Pomerantz said.
Several have had work produced. Wright, a retired NYPD officer who is also a Yoruba priest, has seen several of his plays produced on stage, including “Shango” and “Oshun,” and has had several of his pieces performed as radio dramas.
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