LUIS HERRERA/PLAYWRIGHT/DUCK

LUIS HERRERA/PLAYWRIGHT/DUCK

What is your name? Where are you from?
My name is Luis Roberto Herrera and I’m from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

What project are you working on this week?
I’m working on finishing a full length play that I started a few weeks ago called Bang Bang. I’m half way through the second act. I’d like to finish it by Thursday night. I’ve been working on Bang Bang since June. I had an idea for a play in an extreme circumstance and went with it. I started and stopped in the writing process and it wasn’t until this residency that I had the time and inspiration that I felt I was lacking. The change of scenery really helps.

Bang Bang is a dark comedy about three friends who are down on their luck. One of them works in a bank, so the group attempts to organize a heist. They think they can get away with it in their small town; security isn’t a real concern. It flips to a marriage between a woman and a man. The woman is a security guard at the bank. Their marriage is strained because he recently lost his job in the city. Those scenes cross into one another. Stuff goes wrong at the bank heist, despite the audience not seeing it, and people get hurt. The security guard gets taken and then things start to crumble within the friend group. Eventually we see the couple turn on each other. There’s a bunch of twists I don’t want to reveal. It has a Tarantino-esque ending that has me excited. As far as film directors go, I’m a fan of Wes Anderson, Spike Jones, and Alejandro Iñárritu.

What is the next step for your project?
I have a reading at GableStage in Miami on October 9. I’m nervous and excited. I didn’t think it would happen, but it’s happening! There’s a mid-size playwriting scene in Ft. Lauderdale, and it feels good to be among a small group of local writers whose work is being produced.

Where do you like to work on the farm?
I’ve done in my room at the desk and in Kay Hall. I don’t have a desk in my room at home, so any spot that provides a desk is a new thing for me. Writing outside is also really nice.

If you could be a farm animal, which would you be and why?
I’d want to be a duck. They seem fun. The noise they make is ridiculous compared to what they look like. To me, ducks tend to look graceful and confident. When you hear their quack, this weird dying sound come out of them - dear God. They look a little goofy, which I identify with at times. They can fly and swim too; who wouldn’t want to be able to do both?

How has your experience at SPACE been?
This is my first residency, though I’ve looked into them before. After being at SPACE, it opened my mind to the idea of applying to more. Knock on wood, I would love to come back here for a bit longer of a residency some day.

REN DSANTI/PLAYWRIGHT/DUCK

REN DSANTI/PLAYWRIGHT/DUCK

What is your name and where are you from?
Hi. My name is Ren Dara-Santiago and I’m from Harlem, but I lived in Yonkers until I was ten.

What is the project that you are working on here at SPACE?
I’ve been working on several, actually. I’ve just come from doing a lot of work and have gotten to make a lot of new artistic friends who have then invited me to participate in their artistic projects, so I had a lot of things lined up for this week. My personal projects were having a mission statement that I was proud of, one solid mission statement. I think that you should have three mission statements that cater to the companies that you are sending them to and their own missions. So I’ve been working on that today. And the other things were I needed a 15 minute piece for the writer’s group I’m in called Gingold Theatrical Group which is really cool, and the prompt is specific reaction to man and superman which ended up correlating with something I just started writing, I don’t know why, the day before I got here I just started writing this scene between a girl in the Philippines, and I’ve tried to address this before but child sex trafficking there is insane, girls start as young as six years old, and it’s not legal but there is regulation for the Bikini Bars and things like that so I’m writing a piece about that with one Filipino girl and then an American boy who comes to visit and that ended sort of speaking to the man and superman prompt because in that play women just have to do what they have to do in order to survive. And the other thing was figuring out what I was going to do for Clubbed Thumb because I just got into their Early Career Writer’s Group and I’m in the first block and I have to bring in a full play so I figured out what I wanted to do with that. Because I think the best way to utilize a writer’s group only getting read 3-4 times throughout the year that you are meeting is sticking with one play and seeing how that one can change, I don’t know, I don’t measure success by how well liked, or how awesome, and like superhero and celebrity I feel afterwards it’s just impact whether that just be for me or the people who’ve watched it so I think I’ve done a lot of good work on that.

Where have you been spending most of your time here at SPACE?
A lot of time in the rooms, but I’ll go in other people’s rooms. And steal the energy from those rooms. I walked to the lake, it’s nice to sit there and especially by yourself. It’s really meditative. I’ve said “hi” to the horses I think 4 times. But mainly, that’s how I am at home I’m really scheduled, so here it’s been nice to just not be as scheduled when I write. And I’ve only written once with everyone having a hang in a writing or sharing session, but usually I can’t work unless I’m alone so it’s been fun to have a different experience here.

What’s coming next for you and your project?
I’ll be in two writer’s groups and the play that I’m going to work on with Clubbed Thumb I actually hope to keep developing with Victor, who is here, because he directed the first reading of it. And then I have this really long project which I know will take up to 10 years before I want to produce it. I’m planning on getting workshops of it and starting to find funding, once I figure out whether it’s about formerly incarcerated women or if it’s about homeless women. But that’s a long project I want to do.

If you were reincarnated as farm animal, which would you be and why?
For me, as an animal that is around I would say a coyote but if it were on the farm probably a duck. Because they are funny! They are weird! Because I feel like no matter what they are always imposing on someone else and that’s how I feel.

JANET NOH/COMPOSER/SHEEP

JANET NOH/COMPOSER/SHEEP

What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Janet Noh and I’m originally from Seattle, Washington. I’ve been living in New York City for a few years now, so I consider myself a New Yorker.

What have you been working on while at the farm?
I’m working on PANGAEA the Musical. I’m the composer and co-wrote the story. It is a story about a family of continents (yes--walking, talking, singing continents) who break apart, and the family tries to reconnect. It’s a wild allegory about a vision for the world where we can all become One again as in Pangaea.

Where have you spent most of your time on the farm?
I am an outdoors person and it’s so hard to find good writing space outside in the hustle and bustle of NYC. So I’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful green campus here.

What’s up next for your project after you leave SPACE?
My collaborator, Lee Summers, and I will be doing a developmental workshop of PANGAEA the Musical. It’s with an amazing organization called Bingham Camp Theatre Retreat. It is dedicated to increasing diversity on and offstage. Often times, people just focus on how much diversity you see onstage. It’s important to make sure that the creative team who is behind the scenes comes from different backgrounds as well. I’m super excited. We just finalized our cast this morning. I don’t think we’re allowed to announce just yet, but I’m super stoked. We’re going into crazy rewriting mode now. We’ve thrown away so much good material, trying not to be precious, to make room for even better stuff. PANGAEA’s a-changing.

If you were reincarnated to be a farm animal which animal would you be and why?  
Maybe it’s ‘cause I saw them while I was working by the chicken coop, but I’d be a sheep. Sheep keep people warm all year around with their fur. And they don’t hurt you. They’re so sweet and calm.

KIMBER LEE/PLAYWRIGHT/GOAT

KIMBER LEE/PLAYWRIGHT/GOAT

What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Kimber Lee, I am from all over. I was born in South Korea. I grew up in Idaho. Then, I lived in Seattle for a long time. I was in San Diego, and then, I was in Austin, Texas for grad school. Now, I’m in New York.

What are you working on while at the farm?
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I came up here. I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump. There has been an idea rolling around my head for five or six months, which is on the shorter end of my usual gestation cycle. It just kept popping up, so I’m playing around with some scenes. I think right now I’ve got about twenty two pages. I’m just playing with it. It’s nice to have the space to do that.

Where have you been spending most of your time here at SPACE?
It has been split evenly because the meal times go on for a little bit. I like to stay after food and continue conversations with people. Then, on my own time, I’ve been staying in my room. There are so many beautiful locations around the farm, but the room I’m in has a gorgeous view of the trees and the grounds. Also, I can see where the dinner table is. I keep an eye on it, like “Oh, they’re sitting at the table, now dinner is coming.” It has been a really nice place to work.

What’s up next for the project and life after SPACE?
I have rewrites I need to do for a play that was workshopped about a month and a half ago. I have a couple of commissions, and a few housekeeping, steady moving-forward-kind-of-things.

If you were reincarnated as a farm animal which animal would you be and why?
I think I might be a goat. Goats eat a lot and aren’t too picky about what they eat. They are very curious animals. They do their own thing.

Steven Millar/Sculptor/Sycamore Tree

Steven Millar/Sculptor/Sycamore Tree

What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Steven Millar.  I’m originally from Georgia, but I now live in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. It’s not too far away, but you feel like you are in a different world here because you leave all your concerns behind.  Part of my upbringing was in a very rural area, so there is a nice way in which Ryder Farm connects to my past.

What is the project you’re working on at SPACE?
My work in general concerns time, history, and memory.  I’m trying to explore those ideas based on this actual site.  I’m using some processes which I don’t normally use, for example, casting and taking molds of certain details on the farm grounds or in the buildings. I typically use residencies as a way to expand my notion of art making and what I do - in part because I don’t have the tools and equipment that I have at my own shop and you can only bring so many things. There is also an interesting way in which the process of casting and mold-making embodies record keeping and ties into my notion of memorials. As I make a mold of some detail of the post and beam structure of the barn, I’m trying to memorialize it, make a relic of it. I’ll end up with a lot of little fragments that I will bring back to my studio and assemble into a larger form.  I don't know exactly what that’ll be yet.

So then what is this that you are working on right now?
I’m trying to record the seam between the old general store and the Sycamores house.  I have thin sheet metal, and I’m basically rubbing it, transferring an impression of the floor seam to metal to make a sculptural drawing.  The color is a little ugly right now but it will tarnish nicely. What’s so nice about these wood floors is that the grain has been deeply exposed from so many people walking on it and you can see the old rectangular nails that were made by hand.  I’ll get those impressions.

Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
Because I’m trying to engage with the site, I’ve been spending a lot of time wandering around.  The first day I walked, took photographs, and made notes. I set up studio supplies in the chicken coop because that is a nice open white space.  I made a cast there; it’s an okay space to make some dust. But mostly I’ve been trying to work on site.  I’m trying to capture both the artistic and the agricultural aspects of Ryder Farm, the carvings on the pianos as well as the barn and house architecture.

How long does it take to make a cast of something?
It depends on the material.  I made a whole bunch of little clay impressions with some self-drying clay yesterday.  Earlier I made a foam mold and then a positive plaster cast of a bent farm gate, and that ended up taking most of a day.  It’s always a little tricky working on site; things come out a little rougher.  I’m interested in that lack of refinement, something a little more direct.

How long have you been sculpting.
My MFA is in painting but it’s been about 10 years that I’ve been working on sculpture. Most of my work is assemblage so I’m using different techniques here than in my typical practice.

What’s coming up next for you and your project?
I don’t have a specific outcome for these pieces. This residency in some ways builds off a recent residency in which I worked with glass, making molds and and casting glass into them. Some of these pieces may become glass objects. What’s nice is that this process is open ended and allows me a number of different directions to go.

Do you find that you sort of lean into that process for most of your projects?
You have to remain open to process as you work. Things change, and that’s good. The work always circles back to my general concerns as an individual. Even when the objects take a different direction, they revolve back to ideas that I’m interested in.

If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, which farm animal would you be and why?
Well, I like that cat that everyone thinks is grumpy. He likes me, and we get along.  But, if I was anything on the farm I’d be one of these big Sycamore trees. I like the idea that trees can have a second life as beams or even as something as simple as firewood.  In a way, being reincarnated as something that gives off light and heat wouldn’t be bad. Maybe that’s what art tries to do.

MJ KAUFMAN & EMILY BATE/PLAYWRIGHT & COMPOSER/GOAT-HORSE & CHICKEN

MJ KAUFMAN & EMILY BATE/PLAYWRIGHT & COMPOSER/GOAT-HORSE & CHICKEN

What are your names and where are you from?
EB: My names is Emily Bate and I’m from Philadelphia.
MK: My name is MJ Kaufman and I’m from Brooklyn. I also spend a lot of time in Philadelphia.

What is the project you are working on at SPACE?
EB: We are working on a play called Destiny Estimate, written by MJ-
MK: And composed by Emily. It’s a play about destiny and fate. It follows the story of this character named Myles. They have a lot people around them who die at the same time. The way that their deaths get talked about is really different. They go on a journey about the idea of fate, where it comes from in western literature and what purpose it serves or doesn’t serve.
EB: I would add there is a collision of different narrative styles. In those styles, there are different ideas about human beings, like who can control their fate. The main character is rooting around in all of that. They are trying to find something to make life easier for them.

Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
MK: I have moved around quite a lot. I’ve done The Sycamores, Kay Hall, and the garage. I haven’t been to the chicken coop yet. Maybe that’s next? I have gone in the lake almost every day, twice actually. I went running down there in the morning and swimming in the afternoon.
EB: I mixed it up because there are so many spaces to work in. I wanted to check out all of them. I was in the barn, which is really great for singing. The yurt and the gazebo are also nice for singing. I liked all of those. The last couple days, I’ve just been hanging out by the back of the kitchen. I like the gentle hubbub of everyone coming and going all day.

What is coming up next for you guys and your project?
MK: Our project is going to start rehearsals in two weeks. We’re going to hustle back to Philly and dive in. The show opens October 20th. We’re doing it at Christ Church Neighborhood House. Emily is also about to head to a UK tour.
EB: I’m going on tour with another show very imminently: tomorrow.

If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, which would you be and why?
MK: I think goats have a lot of fun. They can jump and eat everything, but they get killed to be eaten. Whereas if you’re a horse, you get to have a long life. It’s a toss up. Maybe a goat-horse? Some cross between the two.
EB: They might not get eaten! Not too much.  
MK: Yeah, maybe they get kept around to produce milk and such.
EB: I don’t think I would care to be a farm animal. I’m glad they exist, but I feel a little weird about it.
MK: Not even a chicken?
EB: No, not a chicken! So dumb.
MK: But you’d get to crow every morning.
EB: That’s true. I do love that aspect of it. I guess I would be a chicken, the sing-iest animal.

Alex Farr and Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence/Playwrights/Rooster and Sheep

Alex Farr and Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence/Playwrights/Rooster and Sheep

What is your name and where are you from?
A: My name is Alex Farr and I’m from a small town in Pennsylvania
K: My name is Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence, and I’m from Honolulu, Hawaii

What is the project that you are working on here at SPACE?
A: Our project is called Holding: A Queer Black Love Story and it’s a series of monologues, currently, that sort of grapple with being present as a queer person of color.
K: As a queer black person, specifically.
A: And sort of how to show up in the world for yourself
K: In a world in which being present-- or your presence-- is a dangerous thing for this world, and the world is a dangerous thing for your presence, how can you find ways to be present? And a big theme of it is tenderness, queer black tenderness, and queer black love, in all its forms. Especially when it comes to finding ways to be tender and loving with oneself. And how that, in and of itself, is an act of resistance that is so needed right now.

Where have you been spending most of your time here at SPACE?
K: Kay Hall and Kay Hall garage because it’s warm, and the internet is really good.
A: But I want to be outside as much as possible. It’s really lovely to be in nature.
K: I really like the lake. I like walking through the woods to the lake and just being by the lake. It’s just very peaceful and centering, and I don’t often feel peaceful and centered, especially in the city. So it feels like-- if I could be in this environment all the time, I would make so much art. I just feel really invigorated and creatively inspired. I feel like it kind of takes away everything else and opens you up to be able to just create and focus-- really focus in. And I think, honestly, a lot of it is because you are cared for. Like I’m getting the best rest I’ve gotten, I’m getting the best sleep i’ve gotten in ages, I’m breathing deeply, I’m walking, exercising, not having to worry about where my meals are coming from or what I’m going to cook-- it’s so nice to not spend money. Like that is such a big deal.
A: I mean I think it does exactly what it is named to do. It opens up the spaces within ourselves that have been sort of storing up all of the creativity just from being in the world and then allows it to come out. To flow.
K: And I think also being around older, more experienced artists is good. It’s mad intimidating, but at the same time, just overhearing their conversations and seeing how they do their work and how they have made ways to be artists in the world, and just hearing about the resources they tap into and the communities and spaces they tap into that I don’t really know about (just being fresh out of school). So it’s good to get to see an example of how artists are living and working and doing their thing and making a life and career of it. I do a lot of listening.

What is coming up next for you and your project?
A: Coming up next, we have a performance coming up! It’s good that we have this time to get it together! It’s going to be funded and put up by folks at Yale but also for the community in New Haven.
A: So we are hoping that it can sort of be something that brings the queer community in New Haven together because it’s disjointed. And also fundraise for different artist collectives that are trying to do what we are trying to do. And then we want to get it funded by BLSA which is Black Law Students Association. So that we can make it a fundraiser.
K: And then hopefully after that we have dreams and visions of turning it into a workshop. I went to the Northeastern Queer and Trans People of Color Conference last spring, and I was telling a lot of people about our play, and they were encouraging me to bring it back and do some sort of workshop around it. So we were thinking it would be cool to do the play but also have a sort of a workshop session afterwards that gives people the tools to tell their own stories.
A: So much of our play is about mental health which is something we discovered from just having to revisit it through the months. And so I think it has to do a lot with self care. And I do think art is a tool, making your own art is a tool.
K: We were thinking it would be really cool to partner with QTPOC Mental Health to do some kind of workshop session around that, using the play as an educational tool to have conversations around mental health in the community, and to explore things we’ve been learning about ourselves to the play. I feel like it’s a lot easier to talk about [mental health] when you can talk about it through art, rather than just being like, “Let's talk about our mental health.” Like that’s hard. Sometimes you need a play in the middle to be like, “Oh yeah, that’s what’s going on in my heart.” You don’t see it in yourself until you see it on the page and you see it on the stage. And the great thing about when we performed the play before, it was like pretty much all queer people of color, queer black folks-- and every time afterwards when we do the talkback, people always say, “Oh my gosh, that was me up there. You put words to what I was feeling. I feel seen.” So I think when we put our stories up on stage, it’s also giving other folks...
A: I mean it’s always the hope that if someone has felt this way they can recognize that they are not isolated. Not alone in that.
K: And that it’s not just us-- that it’s a product of white supremacy and racism and homophobia and transphobia. That stuff is so pervasive and can get inside you and will mess you up-- and sometimes you don’t even realize the kind of trauma and pain we are carrying around and the emotional labor we are forced to do on a daily basis. So it’s about acknowledging that and not blaming ourselves for when you just feel tired. This stuff is exhausting. So it’s cathartic to say that, and have the whole audience be like, “YES” Especially now, even more so, because people are even more blatant with how they feel about you these days. I think it’s just a real cathartic experience for both audience and performer. The giving is going in both directions. And that feels so amazing.
A: It’s beautiful, it’s a blessing. And SPACE is supporting that.

If you were reincarnated as a farm animal which would you be and why?
A: I was working in the garage yesterday and I could hear the rooster just crowing. And I just like I want that, I want to be a rooster because they just get to crow and announce their existence to the world all the time. I love that freedom.
K: I would want to be a sheep because you get a free haircut all the time. And from people who know how to cut your hair. Because like, people never know how to cut my hair, and you’ve got to find like a black person who knows how to cut it... So I was looking at those sheep, and I was like, “Whoever cuts their hair does a really good job.” And also they are cared for-- the person who takes care of them really takes care of them and loves them. And they have a community, a flock, they are never alone. And they just get to chill. They are not really used for anything-- people just appreciate them for being and existing. And I feel like, so much of the time, under capitalism, we are only appreciated for what we can produce and for our labor-- but they just get to exist, and people just appreciate them for being beautiful and being sheep. I would love that, if the world was like, “You are doing great because you are here-- and the fact that you are out here making art in the midst of this world… You go, sheep!”  

EMILY FELDMAN/PLAYWRIGHT/A LOUD FROG

EMILY FELDMAN/PLAYWRIGHT/A LOUD FROG

What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Emily Feldman. I was born in Baltimore. I grew up in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Since leaving Philadelphia for college, I’ve lived all over the country. I’m about to move back to New York.

What is the project you’re working on at SPACE?
I am working on a first draft of a new play. Right now, I’m just calling it Untitled Family Tragedy. The characters don’t even have names yet. My impulse to make it was that I wanted to write an American tragedy in the vein of an Arthur Miller play, but in my own voice. I haven’t written anything quite like this before. I’m excited about it. Death of A Salesman is definitely a touchstone for me on this play.

Have you been reading a lot of Arthur Miller?
I was pretty impacted by a production of A View From The Bridge that I saw a few years ago. I reread Death of A Salesman. I’m also really inspired by Thornton Wilder plays. I reread my collection of his one acts. I always read Our Town before I start anything new.  

Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
I love my room this week in Kay Hall. I’ve also gotten comfortable in the kitchen nook. It makes me feel like I’m in a home. I really like it. The table feels very formal. The little kitchen nook makes me feel like I live here.  

What is coming up next for you and your project?
I would love to finish a draft. I’m trying not to rush it. I’m very excited for the Roving Dinner that is coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m moving to New York on Sunday. I’ve lived there before, but I’m moving back after four years away. That’s not really on this project, but that’s on my life project.

For the Roving Dinner, are you using this play or another?
I wasn’t going to because I didn’t think it would be ready. This is the thing I’ve been thinking about while I’ve been up here and I wanted to, so I’ll share the first ten pages. I don’t know if they’ll actually end up being the first ten pages, but they’re the first ten pages for now.  

If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, which farm animal would you be and why?
I thought about this this morning because I knew it was coming. I’ve actually never seen a frog on the farm, but when I walk out to the lake for bonfires, I hear them. They are so ridiculously loud. I’m fascinated by the life they live at night. I’m also kind of an insomniac. I’m going to go with a frog.  

H.O.L.L.A!/ Youth Organizers/ Horse, Sea Goat, Lion

H.O.L.L.A!/ Youth Organizers/ Horse, Sea Goat, Lion

What are your names and where are you from?
M: My name is Mashlie Edwards but you could definitely call me MashCash and I’m from Brooklyn, New York.
S: I’m Sefan Bellelview, but I’d rather be called Shaq and I’m from Brooklyn, New York.
R: Peace, my name is Keronn Bennett and you can call me Ron and I’m from Brooklyn, New York.

What is the project that you are working on here at SPACE?
R: The project that we are working on right now is Healing Justice. Basically, as youth organizers, we are going around the 5 boroughs of New York and we are spreading our Healing Justice workshops that we have created and teaching the  youth the different use on the 30, who are black and brown, and we try to educate the youth and show them that all their troubles can be acknowledge and that we can heal from them.

Where have you been spending most of your time here at SPACE?
M: Definitely on the pathways, you know we are just absorbing the nature. The Chicken Coop, too. And of course my room.
R: I’ll say the Chicken Coop, I’ll say her room, my room, the Kay Hall and just the dinning room.
S: I’ve been everywhere.

What about the Chicken Coop do you like?
M: The sound. I love when sound bounces off the walls. And the way the Chicken Coop is actually formed it makes the sound so rich and powerful.

What’s coming up for you next and your project?
M: So we have the Healing Justice Summit which is September 15th and September 16th. We are gonna have all of the youth, the YOC, HOLLA, The Center, every organization that we’ve spoken to! It’s just so many people gathered together. So much black love. Everybody loves the unity. This is gonna be amazing. I can’t wait.

And where is the summit going to be?
M: Columbia University.

If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, what would it be and why?
S: Probably would want to be a horse, because they are fast. That would be cool. Just being majestic and unique.
R: I’ll say a Sea Goat for the fact that I’m a Capricorn and Capricorns are Sea Goats. So I would love to be reincarnated as a Sea Goat.
M: I would love to be reincarnated into a lion because I’m a Leo, obviously, so you know Lions are just dominate. They are powerful in a lot of ways. I would love to be in that wildlife.




 

Evan Henritze, Koshin Paley Ellison and Red Schiller/New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care/Snapping Turtle, Pig and Wild Pony

Evan Henritze, Koshin Paley Ellison and Red Schiller/New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care/Snapping Turtle, Pig and Wild Pony

What are your names and where are you from?
EH: My name is Evan Henritze and I’m from New York City, and I am here working with the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.  

KPE: My name is Koshin Paley Ellison, I am also from the island of Manhattan, and from the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

RS: And I’m Red Schiller. I'm from Brooklyn. I serve on the Board of the Zen Center.

Would you mind explaining what the Zen Center is and what you do and are striving to do?
KPE: The New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care’s mission is to address old age, vulnerability, illness and dying through three things: a daily Zen meditation practice and training, and we have a direct care program that provides the extra layer of support for continuity of care for anyone with serious illness through their dying process and for their loved ones after the death, and we also have education programs, for doctors, nurses, social workers and lay people because 75% of all care is given by friends and family and so part of our mission is to give people those tools and community. And we are here this week to work on a new initiative of the Fellowship for Contemplative Care for clinicians who really want to do a deep dive into changing the way they are in themselves so they can actually be more resilient and compassionate to all their relationships, including those that they are in care partnerships with.  

What would you say is lacking in the medical profession right now as to how they deal with patients?  And what exactly are you striving to improve upon?
KPE: Red, why don’t you take that?

RS: I am happy to.  For people who are professional caregivers, the biggest challenge is the limitations they feel right now in their ability to give compassionate care.  The people who are trained as nurse practitioners and doctors are being asked to do so much more and give more of themselves.  The problems people have are complicated; they occur on multiple levels, and often involve things outside the control of the professionals.  But if you feel responsible and committed to making a difference, that creates these really challenging tensions.  So part of what we are inspired to do, is to design a training program that is going to start with themselves and understand that caring for others really starts with taking care of yourself, and having compassion for yourself and others—together.  And then giving them the skills of daily practice, and insights from the Zen tradition to help transform their work environment and their work relationships, so it becomes easier to do the right thing and it is self sustaining.  With the ultimate goal that the experiences they have had will be translated to their coworkers and the families and patients that they care for.  

EH: One of our core intentions at the Zen Center is to cultivate community, so when we are designing this program this week, we are putting a lot of energy into thinking which ways we can really cultivate community so people are connected, so clinicians feel connected, and feel that they can have resources as they go through the challenges of the work that they do and can integrate their contemplative practice and investigate their contemplative practice, and community and with others in relationship with that.  So we are excited to use technology to sustain that over long periods of time, in addition to having in person residential weeks as well.  

KPE: Also, one modern epidemic is social isolation, and that impacts both for the patients and the care provider.  That is a caring partnership.  So it is difficult for those in the clinician roll to address if they haven’t addressed that in themselves.  So what we see is that more and more care providers themselves do not have the support that really nourishes compassion and resilience in themselves.  So they really don’t open the door to having those conversations with their patients and their loved ones because it is difficult to have conversations about something that you’re not doing.  Our work is about building that integrated bridge that we are not actually separate, and the more we do our work, and build community, the richer and healthier we all are.

Where have you been spending most of your time here at SPACE?
KPE: In Kay Hall

Which part?
KPE: The living room

Have you gone venturing into different parts of the campus?
KPE: We have visited with the chickens, sheep, horses, ducks and geese.

What’s your favorite animal here?
RS: The chickens.  We love the chickens.

EH: Yeah, I’ve been really appreciating going on runs in the morning, and having the space back towards the lake to get ready for my day and get energized.  And it has been so sweet to wake up and know breakfast is waiting on the table inside.  It’s just so supportive to know that the meals are ready to go and that it is going to be nourishing. I mean yeah, I don’t know for you guys but it has been super supportive in allowing myself to engage in my thoughts and play and have the freedom to play in that way.  We have been looking forward to having this time and it just continues to grow throughout the week.

If you reincarnated as a farm animal, what would you be and why?
EH: I think the snapping turtle energy really lands for me—

KPE: No, she said in your NEXT life

EH: Oh, not now, I see—

Yeah I’m sorry, I should have specified—
EH: Yeah I think it would be nice to have that protective shell and also be able to snap whenever I need to snap out of things—

RS: You have been controlling yourself quite well right now—I just wanted to give you that feedback

EH: Thanks—thank you

RS: I’ll come back as a pig, I just want to lie in the slop.  And we’re smart!  But I don’t want to be pork. Hopefully I am reincarnated when the world is vegan and our role is to be wise and lie in the mud.

And you Koshin?
KPE: A wild pony running with others.

Ama Codjoe/Poet/Butterfly

Ama Codjoe/Poet/Butterfly

What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Ama Codjoe, and I live in the Bronx, New York, but I think the ‘where are you from’ question is a little complicated. I think it gives me a moment to honor the fact that my dad is from West Africa, in Ghana, and my mom was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, in the southern United States. Those are two of the lineages that make me up.

What is the project you’re working on at SPACE?
I am writing poems that are going towards a collection: my first book.

Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
I’ve been everywhere. I really have. I haven’t found my little spot, so it changes every day. But I will say that I like the yurt a lot.

What’s coming up next with your project?
A book! It’ll be my first full-length book. And most poetry doesn’t work that way where you have a contract, so I have to make it first before figuring out where it’s going to live. But I’m giving myself the next school year to just write.

What farm animal would you be and why?
What would I be? Not the horses, because of the flies! I don’t think the cows either, but I like them both probably the best. Hmm… goodness gracious, what else is there? A caterpillar! I like it — or better yet, a butterfly. I’ll take it.

You were writing about the horse, right?
I was, yes. It’s very me to have been impacted by this 30-second interaction watching the horses and the flies. It was very disturbing to me for some reason, seeing the flies on the horse.

When you’re writing for a book, or just in general, do you try to work from a theme, or do you think of an image and write about it?
So that poem is a good example of how something is just given — when you see something and you’re like ‘I know I’m going to write about that’ and then it comes pretty easily. I think the way that I’m trying to approach writing for this book is one poem at a time. And the book can be anything. I’m not predetermining it. I don’t know yet what it is.

Interview by Meerabelle Jesuthasan.

Abe Koogler/Playwright/Owl

Abe Koogler/Playwright/Owl

What is your full name and where are you from?
My name is Abe Koogler and I’m from Vashon Island, near Seattle.

What is the project you are working on at SPACE?
I’m in the very early stages of writing a new play, so I’m doing a lot of reading and a lot of thinking and scribbling down notes. I’m reading this book by a man named Paul Kingsnorth who runs something called the Dark Mountain Project. He was a really active environmentalist, then he decided to move to the woods and start his own self-sufficient little cabin with his family. He thinks we are at the end of a certain type of human civilization, and he’s trying to figure out what stories we should be telling ourselves and writing about, given what he believes to be that reality. So I think there’s something in my play about someone who is a deeply committed environmentalist. That’s all I know so far. I’ve been reading a lot of plays that are classics that I love, just trying to figure out their structure and how they work. And I’ve been about ideas around deep ecology and what our responsibilities are as members of this society in this moment. The characters haven’t come to me yet. I’m smoking them out.

What is your process when you begin to write a play?
I’m very un-precious about revising and cutting and I do it brutally, but when it comes to starting a play I’m very mystical about it or precious about it or whatever word you want to use. I get a sense of the broader ideas I want to think about. That’s the first step. Then I start thinking about the location where something might take place. Usually my plays have a really strong sense of place. One play took place in Santa Fe. One took place on the island I come from. So I have to get the ideas and location and then usually after that the characters come to me. There’s a lot of waiting involved.

Where have you been spending most of your time?
I’ve been spending a lot of my time here on this back porch (Kay Hall). I like it because you can see the pond and hear the frogs at night and it’s very green. Today I spent a lot of time in the Kay Hall Garage which I liked. I worked in there with Ama for awhile.

What is your usual workspace when you’re writing?
I have a little desk in my room right next to my bed which is why it’s so great to be at SPACE, because my room in New York very cramped. Time of day is more important to me than location. All my good stuff comes before noon, so I try to block out as much time as I can before noon. It’s easier to get up early in the country, because it’s easier to go to bed early. I love that. That’s harder in the city.

Do you handwrite or type?
I feel like the two types of writing produce different types of work. I like to type because I can outpace my conscious mind. I like the rhythm of pounding instead of sweeping. So I like to type.

What is it like being out on the farm?
My whole body feels more relaxed which means I can think. It’s hard to think in the city sometimes. In my regular life, I have to plan what I’m going to have for lunch and where I have to be that afternoon. So just to be here and take walks in nature and not have to worry about what I’m going to eat later is wonderful, because it frees up my mind to think about different things.

So what is coming up for you and your project?
Well I have several more books I need to read. Then probably by the time I leave here in two days I’m going to try and force myself to start writing and see if anything’s there yet. Hopefully some characters will come to me. I have a couple commissions due so this is probably one of those commissions. I don’t have much lined up other than writing. I don’t have any immediate productions in the future.

If you were reincarnated as a farm animal what would you be? And why?
Can I be an owl? Are there owls here? I want to be an owl because they’re watchful and quiet but fierce predators. I don’t know what that means about me. They’re soft too. They can move their heads in lots of different directions. They have cute babies!

Interview by Tyler Campbell.

Aleshea Harris/Playwright/Polite Sheep Dog

Aleshea Harris/Playwright/Polite Sheep Dog

What is your name? Where are you from?
My name is Aleshea Harris. I came here from California but I’m an army child who grew up in many places but mostly the South.

What is the project you’re working on at SPACE?
I’m working on a play about a family dealing, in their different ways, with the grief of a woman soldier who dies in combat.

Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
I've been spending most of my time in Kay Hall. I really like the common area, lighting and the temperature. And I've visited the cows and the horses, which are cute and inspiring. I’ve done a bit of meandering but mostly stayed in those places.

What’s coming up next for you and your project?
Next I’ve got to finish up this play, since it’s a commission with The Denver Center. We’ll see where it goes. And I’ve got two other plays premiering early next year: one at Soho Rep. and the other will be touring France and Belgium.

If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, which farm animal would you be and why?
I’d be a dog that politely herds sheep.

The Team/Artistic Collaborators/Horse, Horse, Goat

The Team/Artistic Collaborators/Horse, Horse, Goat

What are your names and where are you from?
Kristine: I’m Kristine Haruna Lee and I’m from Brooklyn, New York.

Kim: I’m Kim Gainer and I live in Harlem but I’m from Louisville, Kentucky.

Jess: I’m Jessica Almasy, I’m from New Jersey.

And what are you working on while you’re on the farm?
Jess: I’m working with these other two humans on what I first described to them as a feminist alien seance.  We’re looking into what kind of spiritual powers we need to invoke to survive our current political climate alongside the idea of wearing womanhood as an alienating experience.   It’s a riff off this book by Simone de Beauvoir called “The Woman Destroyed” which is in three parts, each written from the perspective of a different woman.  That’s why it was important for me to collaborate with Kristine and Kim on this.  So that’s the play I’m working on, it’s called “The Woman Destroyed, or How Not to get Punched in the Face”.  We’re thinking a lot about feminine structure and feminine dramaturgy, which we think about as circles.  If this play is a seance, if it’s a circle, then does it have a center or even need a center?  We’re very conscious of making this a feminine process.

Kim: We’ve been having a lot of really deep conversations about race and opportunity and art, and I’ve been very inspired by the natural surroundings to reflect on how these three things converge.  I had an idea, partially because we spent so much time on the lake joking around about a side project we would call “Lake Shark”, a horror movie for the stage.  But that’s for later, we’ll get to writing that later!  In the meantime, I’ve been writing a play about a corporate booze cruise gone wrong where everyone dies in a wreck except for these two shipwrecked co-workers, a black woman and a white man.  I wanted to know if they would replay all of their same  patterns around gender, race and power if no one else was around or if they would build some new structures.

Kristine: Something I’ve been contributing to this process is the idea of polyamory, which is the focus of my own personal project called plural (love).  I’m in conversation with Jess and Kim in development of this text I’ve been writing that is very personal.  It’s an experiment in radical truth telling and autotheory, which is basically finding ways in which speaking about myself becomes a critical or theoretical investigation, a la Maggie Nelson or “I Love Dick” by Chris Kraus.  Polyamory for me is the ultimate queer form of love, and when I’ve played it out I’ve seen epic states of failure, experiencing new emotional territory that’s so dark and human but also seeing such ecstatic joy.  That in itself is a process of conversation, so I feel like this thing that Jess invited us into is very much a polyamorous process where we love our own individual relationships to our own work but we also open that up into this collective creative process, and that simultaneity is the thing at hand that we’re struggling with and being with.

What will happen to your work and to this unique relationship once you leave the farm?
Jess: We haven’t really had that conversation yet so we’ll probably explore that right now.  Personally I want to stay very much involved with these other two women and their projects, like with Kim’s project.  I don’t know in what capacity I could help Kim with her booze cruise idea but I want to be involved in that polyamorous process with her as she continues to work on it.

Kristine:  I think the directionality of thinking about pretty roduction is so linear, which is so not what this relationship is about.  Yes these pieces should be produced, but that’s not what our relationship is about.  Our energies aren’t unidirectional, they’re out in all these different directions and that’s what makes it a beautiful polyamorous artistic collaboration.

Jess: It’s neat that you say that because I’ve been very interested in Simone de Beauvoir’s relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre, as writers and philosophers and super-flawed polyamorous lovers.  I’ve been interested in them for over a decade as figures and one thing I love about them is that they were a part of this community of philosophers who would be writing texts that were both influenced by each other and in competition but they would still come together and drink together and make art together which is what this community is that we’ve built on the farm.  We’ve got companionship but total freedom, not a contractual commitment to conformity but a desire to be infiltrated by the others.  I’m going to get ambition and humility from being around these people because I’m asking them to influence who I’ve become, in a non-traditional way.

How do you three fit into The Team?
Jess: I’ll speak to the succinct and present circumstance.  The Team has been around for 12 years and I’m one of the founding members but we’re all equal.  There’s about 13 of us, designers, performers, writers, and our artistic director, but we’re all considered writers in whatever way we each feel we can write.  We write our plays collaboratively, so like traditionally a few of us would come to the group with an idea and it would get approved by our artistic director, but since we’ve been growing and becoming decentralized, we can move away from that western, male idea of a director.  We’re looking at the idea of commissions through this highly polyamorous process where we can invite other people in and discuss collectively big production questions about what The Team can provide beyond traditional resources.  There’s all these questions that are microcosmic for me in terms of my very binary traditional marriage structure ending and for our polyamorous relationship here on the farm.  My place in The Team is as a member of the family, and we’re here because The Team was offered the space and I wanted to try out this idea of how The Team can work.

Where have you each been working on the farm?
Kim: We as a triad have been finding several spots agreeable.  We have play work time, like at the lake on the paddle boat playing around with the Lake Shark idea, but personally I really enjoy the walk to the lake and watching the horses.  They seem so magical and intuitive that they almost seem telepathic, like in the way performers can be telepathic on stage.  I also spend a lot of time in my room, the Ambrose Room, which is vastly different from my room in Harlem.

Jess: Today I’m working for the first time in the parlor room, with the piano.  When I walked in I realized that that room is the set for my play.  I don’t find it creepy, I find it alive with energy coming out of it.  I feel like I should be there.

Kristine: I have been writing in Kay Hall mostly, but I’ve been getting into a more meditative state before writing in the barn.  It’s nice to have the luxury of multiple spaces that have different vibes so I’ve been trying to take advantage of that.

And finally, what farm animal would you like to be reincarnated as?
Jess: A horse.  The first thing it makes me think of is gender, because you can’t tell a horse’s gender when you look at it initially.  They’re each incredibly muscular and powerful, like there’s no coincidence that horse and force sound so similar.

Kim: I feel like I’m also a horse.  I think they’re strong and sexy, not in a weird way, just in that they’re so beautiful in their freedom.  Their eyes know you, and that’s why I was thinking so much about telepathy and horses.  Their eyes are so soulful and their movements so conservative, as if every movement is meant to communicate something.  There’s a mystery there.

Kristine: I would be a goat.  I know I’m a goat, as much as I would like to be a different animal I know I’m a goat.  

Interview by Xander Browne.