Conversations with the creators of
A LESSON IN SWIMMING!
BROADCASTED LIVE at 5:30 PM PDT ON Wednesdays, August 12, 19, and 26, 2020
Each year, roughly 800,000 Americans experience a stroke. In 2015, actor, director, and longtime Moving Arts’ company member Michael Shutt survived three.
Michael then spent almost three years writing scores of short stories about his experience before teaming up with director and dramaturg Diana Wyenn to take his powerful and unexpectedly hilarious story to the stage. In 2020, they were scheduled to open the world premiere of A LESSON IN SWIMMING at Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles when the coronavirus pandemic hit. It soon became clear that their plans had to get pushed…or they could adapt.
For three consecutive Wednesdays in August 2020, Michael and Diana logged online from their homes to share insights and stories from the creation process. They focused first on the writing process (August 12); followed by the workshop and staging process (August 19), and finished by taking questions live from the audience (August 26) once they had access to watch the archived video of the 2019 workshop production—which was available for a limited time on-demand for free between August 19–26!
Accessibility: The Wednesday evening conversations were live-streamed with ASL interpretation and are archived below and on movingarts.org with closed captioning.
THE 3-PART SERIES
THE FREESTYLE: THE WRITING PROCESS
Wed AUG 12 | 5:30 PM PDT
Hear how Michael went from an actor and director of new plays to writing his first full-length autobiographical solo show and becoming a semi-finalist for the 2020 Eugene O’Neill National Playwright's Conference. This first conversation delves into Michael’s writing process, as well as Diana’s dramaturgical process for developing solo shows and is full of creative kick-starters. You’ll hear about how writing prompts and groups led to live readings, how writing became an unexpected and invaluable part of Michael’s post-stroke journey, and how two simple feedback questions unearthed the core of what would become A LESSON IN SWIMMING.
THE BUTTERFLY: THE WORKSHOP PROCESS
Wed AUG 19 | 5:30 PM PDT
Learn how Michael, Diana, and their creative team collaboratively realized A LESSON IN SWIMMING. Putting this play onto its feet and into Michael’s memory was a beautiful journey of discovery full of cut pages, choreography, immersive sound and lighting, and lots of repetition. This conversation shares insights into the workshop process and highlights how meeting the accessibility needs of a performer with a disability can reveal a myriad of creative opportunities for everyone involved in the project, including the audience.
THE OPEN SWIM: LIVE Q&A WITH MICHAEL & DIANA
MODERATED BY JOE BORGES
Wed AUG 26 | 5:30 PM PDT
After hearing the behind-the-scenes scoop on how A LESSON IN SWIMMING was created, and watching the 2019 workshop production on vide, Michael and Diana were joined by host of the podcast the NeuroNerds and fellow stroke survivor Joe Borges and answered questions live from the audience.
SWIMMING LESSONS CREDITS
Michael Shutt, speaker
Chiquia Lewis, M.A., ASL interpreter
Diana Elizabeth Jordan, project consultant
Cece Tio, producer
SWIMMING LESSONS is presented by Moving Arts and Bootleg Theater and made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.
Image description: Header image includes circular headshots of Michael Shutt and Diana Wyenn as well as the text "Moving Arts and Bootleg Theater present Swimming Lessons with Michael Shutt and Diana Wyenn" on a bright blue background over an underwater photo background.