The National Steinbeck Center Opens Ticket Sales and Offers Teen Workshops for its 31st Annual Steinbeck Festival: Friends and Foes August 4-7, 2011

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This year, dozens of writers, speakers, and teachers from England to California will gather in Salinas to discuss various topics on its theme of “Friends and Foes.” Many events and talks will feature the works of John Steinbeck, but this year will include some surprises. As Executive Director Colleen Bailey says, “this year’s festival will expand into a wider celebration of arts and ideas, viewed through the lens of Steinbeck’s work and themes.”

The National Steinbeck Center 31st Annual Steinbeck Festival

The National Steinbeck Center, located at One Main Street in Salinas, will host its 2011 Steinbeck Festival: Friends and Foes, to be held from August 4-7, 2011, in Salinas, on Monterey’s Cannery Row and in Cities of Letters around the world. Tickets are now available by phone at (831) 775-4721. Order forms are available online at http://www.steinbeck.org.

This year, dozens of writers, speakers, and teachers from England to California will gather in Salinas to discuss various topics on its theme of “Friends and Foes.” Many events and talks will feature the works of John Steinbeck, but this year will include some surprises. As Executive Director Colleen Bailey says, “this year’s festival will expand into a wider celebration of arts and ideas, viewed through the lens of Steinbeck’s work and themes.”

Among the new twists is a focus on the graphic novel on Friday, August 5, planned to correspond with the Center’s summer exhibition. In 2009, Swiss artist Pierre Alain Bertola’s graphic novel, Des souris et des hommes (based on John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men) was published in French by renowned Paris-based graphic novel publisher, Editions Delcourt. Bertola is an internationally-known artist based in Geneva whose work has ranged from stage sets in Russia to graphic novels.

Besides the exhibition opening and reception on Friday, August 5, from 6-8pm (free, as part of First Fridays), where Bertola will give an artist talk about his original drawings, he will also lead two Graphic Novel hands-on workshops on Friday (1:45-3:30) and Saturday (3:45-5:45pm) that will teach participants to tell one’s stories in a few simple frames. No art background is required.

Leading in to both Graphic Novel workshops, the festival offers the opportunity to hone short, powerful stories through story creation workshops. Writer and performer Tim Hernandez—a native Californian who now resides outside of Denver—returns to Salinas to lead two workshops for young adults ages 14 and up. Hernandez’s debut collection of poetry, Skin Tax, received the 2006 American Book Award, and his novel, Breathing, In Dust (2010) was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. A frequent guest author at Universities and institutions across the United States, Hernandez has performed in venues from LA to New York City and he currently works for the Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book.

Tim is excited to join the Festival line-up this August specifically to lead two teen workshops on Friday (9:45-11:45am) and Saturday (1:00-2:30): “I'm looking forward to returning to Salinas to work with the young folks there to tell their own stories—after all, who better to chronicle life than those who have their eyes and ears on the landscape and hum of their surroundings?” In “Friends and Foes: A Physical Stories Workshop,” Hernandez will lead students to examine their own life stories, as his description explains:

The people closest to us are the characters, the friends and foes of our plot. This workshop will focus on telling “our stories” as they occur around us—in our homes, kitchens, playgrounds, town, or at work. We’ll discuss the “friends and foes” in our lives through a variety of fun storytelling and writing techniques. Please bring small photographs of family or friends and dress comfortably! Join award winning author and performance artist Tim Z. Hernandez for this hands-on workshop.

Finally, California fiction writer Michael McLaughlin will teach a workshop, “Flash Fiction à la Steinbeck: The Scene” on Saturday, August 6, from 10:30-11:45am. This writer’s workshop for high school students will focus on setting as the character in every Steinbeck novel. In this craft-based creative writing workshop, students will construct 1-2 page bursts of Steinbeck-inspired prose, with emphasis on setting.

In continuing its commitment to young adults, the National Steinbeck Center carries on its mission: to build community and celebrate creativity, inspired by the words of John Steinbeck. Through these five workshops, especially designed for teens ages 14 and up, Tim Hernandez agrees: “Kudos to the Steinbeck Center for opening their doors, hearts, and resources to the people of California , very much keeping in the legacy of John Steinbeck himself.”

Bertola’s exhibition is funded by ProHelvetia, the Swiss Arts Council, with the support of the City and the Region of Nyon and the State of Vaud, Switzerland .

TICKETS ON SALE NOW! Purchase tickets by phone at (831) 775-4721. Full festival passport price of $150/$135 members includes all events Friday through Sunday with the exception of bus tours, Ricketts’ Lab tours, lunches and events after 7 pm. One-day passes also available for $60/$54 members, and student day passes for $15/$12 members. See full package details and order form at http://www.steinbeck.org.

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