What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Erin Courtney. I grew up in California, and I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 20 years.
What’s the project you’re working on at SPACE?
I’m working on a play about neuroscience called not Blind Spot [laughs]. And it’s about two women who are neuroscientists and they’re married, and there’s one person they are studying.
Did this project start on the farm, or how long have you been incubating it?
I’ve been incubating it for about six months. Once I found out I was going to be on the farm, I did research but I really waited to be out here to dig into the writing. It’s great to be away from my daily life and to start a brand new play in this beautiful place.
Is that what you’ve been doing this first week of the working farm?
Yeah, so I had sort of an outline but then I realized I hate writing from an outline! I still have my research and I know the events that I’m interested in exploring, but I am letting the play grow more organically and letting it be messier and less controlled.
Where have you been spending most of your time on the farm?
I have a lovely room in Kay Hall. I’m in the Ely Room. It has these big beautiful windows, and a nice big desk, and it has its own private terrace. I’ve been spending a lot of time at the desk in my room, also and also doing some very important napping. I feel dreaming is very important for all writers. I go on little walks; I went down to the lake. And we went and worked on the farm. We did our two hours of work give-back, Kevin Armento and I built a trellis for the peas.
Had you ever done any farming or gardening work before?
I have done one day of farm work up at Farm and Wilderness in Vermont. We were harvesting potatoes.
What’s up next for you and your project?
I have to write it. Next is writing it. Tomorrow we’re going to share, so I’m very excited to hear the interns, yourself included, read the parts. The main thing is to have this really expansive open time to explore and make mistakes and fail and challenge myself which is a real gift.
As a teacher of playwriting and playwright, how do you find those two fields interact and inform each other?
Teaching playwriting is great, and the students at Brooklyn College are incredibly expansive thinkers, about what the theatre can be and also in the way they see the world. They’re great playwrights; I’m very lucky to get to work with them.
Is there a big question that’s informing your work right now, and if so, what is it?
I feel like the question is always changing. Every few years there’s a new question. For this play, the question is about perception, and how do we see things, and why do we see things in a certain way? How does our experience and/or our brain chemistry impact the way we see?
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, what animal would you be and why?
The farm animal that I most relate to that I’ve met on Ryder Farm has to be the baby donkey, Tinkerbell. I was watching her very awkwardly trying to play with a horse and the horse was just ignoring her! Anyway, that’s the animal I like most on the farm.