EVENTS Scrawl Crawl at Teatro Alla Scala


One Saturday in June, Events Editor Fran Price joined SCBWI's Virtual Scrawl Crawl and went in search of her inner ballerina.

My first virtual scrawl crawl happened in two parts. The first was on the day, 26th June, in the company of other SCBWI members via Facebook. We said hello and then all went off virtually looking around Teatro Alla Scala, Milan. The second was a few weeks later when I snuck back to get more material for this post!

I’m a writer but I wasn’t looking for ideas particularly, just to locate my inner artist. I find non-writing creative pursuits therapeutic and they often inspire new ideas. But I got so carried away looking behind the scenes, and at the wonderful exhibits of ballet, opera and acting that when coordinator Alina Surnaite posted that it was time to share, more than an hour had gone by and I hadn’t sketched a thing. 

I hastily sketched a scene from Swan Lake:


Alina did a far more accomplished one:

Sketch by Alina Surnaite


It was fun to draw fast, see everyone’s different styles and find out what materials they used.

Claire Yerbury chose to sketch scenes from two operas she hadn’t heard of:

Sketches by Clare Yerbury

Joan Longstaff came up with a couple of story ideas inspired by this striking photo:

La Bayadère [Picture credit: Marco Brescia, Teatro Alla Scala]


Kerina Strevens was breaking in a new pen and did this beautiful sketch of two dancers.

Sketch by Kerina Strevens


The second time I visited, I may have been aiming to improve on my sketch of ‘scary man with feathers’ (my title) but instead I chose a group of ballet students from the early 20th century. I have a picture book idea based on my own experience of ballet in primary school, so I thought drawing the students might trigger some ideas.

 My sketch of ballet students at Teatro Alla Scala, 1901-2

And it did. As I was trying to describe the tangle of tutus, arms and legs, memories came bubbling to the surface of my childhood love of ballet dancing. Until a teacher told me, ‘You could never be a professional dancer, Francoise, because you’re too tall!' (Cheers Miss Westlake, if you’re reading). I guess diversity wasn’t a thing back in 70's Wales. Maybe I will channel some of these ballet-themed memories into a story one day. Once I’ve recovered from the rage!

SCBWI monthly virtual scrawl crawls are such a wonderful creative resource. The next one is at the Palace of Versailles in Paris. All you have to do is join the group on Facebook, and show up on the day from 2-3.30pm, sketch, write or simply gaze.

*Header image: Il Lago Dei Cigni, by Brescia-amisano, Teatro Alla Scala. 


Fran Price is Events Editor for Words & Pictures online magazine. She writes picture books, chapter books and middle grade. When she's not writing or leaping around the room, she makes pots. Contact her at

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