Monday, September 23, 2013

Interview with Playwriting Students Sue McNally and Caitlin Coey

Sue McNally and Caitlin Coey are returning Freehold Playwriting students.  We took a few minutes with them to chat about their recent Playwriting experience at Freehold and what they are looking forward to in their next Playwriting class.

What drew you to sign up for Freehold's Playwriting classes in the first place?

Sue: I’d been in a slump with my writing and saw that Freehold was offering Playwriting with Rebecca Tourino.  I’d had a fabulous experience with Freehold in the late 1990’s and I thought playwriting could be a fun adventure.  

Caitlin: I've written poetry from an early age and have some acting training.  I drifted away from acting and continued to write, but so many roads led back to theatre it was impossible to shake.  This seemed like a lovely and fulfilling way to combine both passions.  

What has surprised, excited and/or challenged you in the process of taking the Playwriting class?

Sue: I entered the class with a heavy feeling that I should be bringing an idea for a play to the first class.  But I decided to wait to see what Rebecca had in store for us.  She had a bag full of tricks – exercises that fleshed out to scenes and assignments to explore people that created characters.  It was truly like magic.  She led us into the world of our imagination and suddenly things started taking shape that surprised us all.  I have now, after part 2, nearly completed a play that I never intended to write but that just gushed out of me.  Amazing.

Caitlin: I thought that because I've always been a poet it would be foolhardy for me to try something longer, but the prompts Rebecca gave allowed us to take it one step at a time.  We started out observing people in a coffee shop and before I knew it, I had my first act sketched out! Something I realized within the first class--there isn't "one" way to write a play. It's fabulously encouraging.  

You've taken the class once and you're returning to take another Freehold Playwriting class.  What are you looking forward to as you return to take another Playwriting class here?

Sue: I am going to start the game anew.  I will follow Rebecca’s prompts and see what other plays are hiding inside of me.  It’s going to be great fun.  I could take this class over and over again forever.

Caitlin: I love having a creative space to go to every week--a lot of the joy of my writing is knowing that I get to share it with my classmates.  It keeps my imagination working and keeps me grounded in those my moments when the task seems so daunting.  

Has there been one piece of playwriting wisdom that has stood out for you?

Sue: Early in Playwriting I, Rebecca challenged us to take two or three of our characters and write a confrontation scene that was so intense that our classmates would accuse us of melodrama.  That was so liberating for me.  I think I have a tendency as a writer to hold back.  This wisdom gave me license to go for it.  And that scene became the inciting incident for my play.

Caitlin: I tend to hold back in life and in writing, but Rebecca encouraged us to write full-tilt because "you can always pull it back." I keep that in mind every time I sit down to write. 

Sue McNally works as a writer/producer/director in TV and has produced dozens of travel shows for PBS.  She’s been writing fiction on the side for years and created many of her own narrative short films.  She took a slew of Freehold acting classes and would love to combine her love of film and acting with a newfound passion for playwriting.

Caitlin Coey will graduate from Antioch University Seattle (AUS) in December with a B.A in Arts and Literature.  Recently she was the assistant editor on AUS's (late) literary mag Knock. Outside of playwriting and AUS, she is a nanny, baker, performer, and freelance writer. A former student at Cornish College of the Arts, she has a strong interest in theatre for social justice and recently traveled to Rhode Island to see The Jenin Freedom Theatre's production of The Island.

Rebecca Tourino will be teaching Playwriting I at Freehold this Fall Quarter.  For more information on this class go, here.

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