Point Proven: Nonsense Really IS Better

December 6, 2006 | 826 Blog Post

Last night, we hosted the first session of the incomparable Scott
Beal’s “Nonsense is Better Than No Sense At All” workshop.
Flanked by two stellar volunteers, Scott led fourteen students through a variety
of hilarious and strange exercises.

Here’s a glimpse into the wild world of an 826 workshop: a brief list
of some of the fun activities Scott, Adrienne, and Bobby tackled with
these ten-to-fourteen-year-old prodigies.

  1. They attempted to answer the question “Why is a raven like a
    writing desk?” (One response: “Both of them fly through the air. Like,
    if you push the writing desk off a cliff.”)

  2. Various experiments were conducted to create nonsensical dialogue,
    independently and in groups.

  3. Each student wrote a nonsense adventure story starring him- or
    herself in which they were asked to incorporate:

    1. favorite bits of their nonsense dialogue from the earlier exercises;

    2. various brainstormed impossible things/events (the examples Scott
      borrowed from Carroll’s “The Walrus and The Carpenter”—the sun shining
      at night, oysters wearing shoes despite not having feet—were not
      nearly as good as the students’ examples, such as Samantha’s
      suggestion of cutting off your own head and then gluing it back on);

    3. random objects Scott made them interject into their storylines at
      arbitrary points: a pineapple at four minutes, a knight on horseback
      at seven minutes, a flamingo at ten minutes…

Here is where we would like to extend a huge and
brimming-with-gratitude THANK YOU to Scott Beal. “I haven’t had that
much fun in a long time!” Adrienne, one of his volunteer facilitators,
gushed this morning. We are always excited to see what he will
come up with each workshop schedule. And thus far, from “Unleash Your
Outlandishness: Poems of Audacity and Weirdness” to “Poetry Over,
Under, Through, Around, Of, By, and For Music” to “Making Things
Strange & Making Strange Things,” his creativity and knack for
inspiring young people is invaluable to our organization. Thanks

Thanks also to Adrienne and Bobby, about whom Scott had this to say:
“I really would have been lost without Adrienne and Bobby helping
steer things along. (And so—enormous thanks to both of you!)”
Everyone agrees: our volunteers are the best.

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