Greetings! It’s been awhile since my last blog post, and there is a lot to catch up on.
I am just returning to Brooklyn after a two-week sojourn in beautiful Catskill, NY, where I took part in the Catwalk Institute Art Residency program. Situated on a ninety-acre private estate on the west side of the Hudson river about 2 hours north of New York City, the program provided me with a private cottage in a serene setting in which to live and work on ELIZABETH.
While I was there, I had the pleasure to meet the other artists in residence, all of whom were super cool and working on fascinating projects of their own: books, short stories, films, and cross-media works. It was terrific learning about their projects and telling them about my work on ELIZABETH; I hope to keep up with them and the work they are doing.
I also spent time with the program’s founder and patron, Mrs. Purcell Palmer, with whom I shared many meaningful conversations about my show and the history of the women’s suffrage movement. She also connected me with Mrs. Hannah Hanani of Close Encounters With Music, a chamber music organization that whose 2016-2017 season is celebrating “The Year of the Woman!” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. The three of us had a great conversation over afternoon tea; it was such a thrill to speak to a fellow artist who shares my passion for women’s history! I wish Hannah and Close Encounters with Music huge success with their upcoming season. (By that way, if you’re wondering about the timing of their 100th anniversary season: women’s suffrage was legalized in New York state in 1917, three years before it was legalized nationally via the 19th Amendment) #TheMoreYouKnow
So, what did I actually do there? The short answer: I wrote the first complete draft of the book. I started the residency with only a sense of “this is where the show starts, this is the act break, and this is how it ends,” and only broad bullet points about what happens in between (one bullet point: “The Civil War.” Yeah…) The bulk of my time was spent fleshing out those bullet points into a beat-by-beat narrative. The process of getting from A to B was one of the most challenging puzzles I’ve ever attempted (more on that in a future post…), and revealed many surprises: characters or events that I envisioned being major players got cut completely, while others I didn’t intend to include at all became integral. With the gifts of time and space on my side, I was able to immerse myself in the story and the characters, and they told me what to do. I spent very little time writing dialogue or actual ‘scenes’ as I anticipate ELIZABETH being almost entirely sung through, but the narrative I’ve built is the blueprint from which I can start writing the actual show. Oh, and after years of trying, I got really good at using Final Draft #Goals
All in all, I had an amazingly productive two weeks away and am incredibly grateful to have been given the time. I now return to Brooklyn as motivated as ever to - as Susan B. Anthony would say - “carry on with the work.”
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the lovely fall weather. Until next time…