Charly Evon Simpson / Playwright / Hummingbird

What is your name? Where are you from?
My name is Charly Evon Simpson. I’m from New York City. I was born in Queens, grew up in northern New Jersey, and went to boarding school in New Hampshire.
 
What is the project you’re working on at SPACE?
I’ve been working on an untitled piece that was inspired by an article called “Jumpers” in The New Yorker about people who jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Aiming for it to become a one act. I’m a 90-minute theatre kind of gal, as both a writer and a viewer.
 
What led you to playwriting?
I began writing plays in college. I took some time off from it thinking that I wanted to get my PhD. I was also teaching kids and working in social work in Philadelphia. My focus increased when I moved back home to New York two years ago. Although it took a few years, I was confident in becoming a playwright. I’m now in in my last year of getting my MFA in Playwriting at Hunter College. I’m a bit of a nerd. I’d be in school all the time if I could. If I were to teach, I’d want to teach middle school. I have an affinity for getting younger people interested in the arts, for them to know the possibilities. So many schools have nonexistent arts programs, and usually only privileged kids get the opportunity. I was among the lucky ones to know that the arts were a possibility. There are probably some great playwrights out there who don’t know their potential because they lack opportunity.
 
Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
I love working outside. I like writing by hand first and it’s easier to just take your notebook and go outdoors. When it’s rainy I work in Kay Hall and in my room. There’s something comforting about it being cold and damp. Though when it was sunny, I went by the sheep. I’ve been roaming around. I appreciate being able to look out windows and see the beautiful landscape too.
 
What’s coming up next for you and your project(s)?
My project is for grad school. It may or may not be my thesis. I have yet to decide.
 
What genre do you tend to gravitate towards?
I’m interested in how trauma affects people. I would say my work tends to be more dramatic than comedic. Although, I’ve noticed that I’m interested in how the comedic lies within the drama. Tragi-comedy might be the best way to describe it.
 
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, which farm animal would you be and why?
I’d like to be a bird. Not a chicken or duck. I’d want to fly - maybe a blue jay or sparrow. I wouldn’t want to be a bird of prey, like a hawk, either. I’d be a little worm bird. Hummingbirds, robins, etc. are all good options.

Suzanne McNear / Writer / Sheep

What is your name? Where are you from?
My name is Suzanne McNear. I live in Sag Harbor, NY, a historic whaling village near the tip of  Long Island. The village has recently undergone a building explosion with people putting up enormous houses to replace the small houses and cottages that have been here for hundreds of years.  Many of us who have lived there for a long time and hate to see the change support an organization called ‘Save Sag Harbor.’  This summer we raised money to establish a park to be named for John Steinbeck who lived there.   

What is the project you’re working on at SPACE?
I’m working to finish a collection of stories I started some time ago.  I stopped working on the stories because I was stuck on a long story called Desert Prayers, about a couple whose car has ended up in a ditch in Nevada. He has set up a roadside bar for himself. She is hitting golf balls into the brush. For a change I wrote a play, called Water Water. I hope it will have a reading this winter. Here at SPACE I have gone back to my story.

How do you transition between writing prose versus dialogue?
I didn’t realize how much I liked dialogue  until I began to look through the stories and  see how often I used it. The story I’ve been working on up here was so rigid and literal and boring. It needed something else. More dialogue. 
 
Sometimes writing is easy. It just sort of comes and flows out, the characters take off.  You think, I’ve never even thought of these people and here they are. The story is done. And you had better say “Thank you!” when that happens, because you never know when it will happen again. Mostly, I think writing is hard work, and writing something that is necessary, that will matter, that gets at the craziness and recklessness and greed and fear in our country is the reason to stay with it. 
 
Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
I write in my room. When I need a break I  walk down to the dock and listen to Hamilton on my cell. Often I walk over to see the sheep.  They are funny and charming. It is wonderful to see them, and the horses, and the fields where the  flowers and vegetables are growing. I have never lived on a farm before. As a guest one can respond to the beauty and not think about all the hard work!

What’s coming up next for you and your project(s)?
I will finish the stories and send them to an agent and see what she thinks. She was the first person who published a story of mine many years ago. As for my play, Water Water, I hope to have a reading at Bay Street in Sag Harbor this winter. The play is  about a retired couple  who have settled into a small house in the Caribbean. They are  watching a sailing race which may or my not be taking place. They are quite mad. They are afraid, and they are trying to go on.  
 
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, which farm animal would you be and why?
A sheep. I adore them. I have taken so many pictures and sent them to friends who must wonder what I am doing here.  The sheep were more interested in me in the beginning. Now, I have the feeling they’re saying, oh you again.  I must say I do like the donkey. But he’s off my list because he won’t “hee-haw” anymore. I tried a donkey call,  but he was not amused.