What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Sharon Kenny, I’m originally from New Jersey and I have been in New York for seven years.
What are you working on at SPACE?
I’m working on a rock opera called Cadence in Development. It is a sung-through musical about the development of an artist and the interruptions that stunt that growth.
What was the inspiration for the piece?
I really wanted to write a piece as a challenge to myself that was completely sung through. I’m really interested in the inhibition kids have, that kind of freedom. We learn to not be an artist, to shut off our instincts and we have to actively work to get back to it. That tendency or idea that artists are born with this driving force inside of them and there are outside forces trying to shut it off. Like people saying, “You’re not going to make any money and you’re not going to do this or that…” It’s about getting back to that seed of inhibition that’s inside of you.
Did you start this project at SPACE?
I actually started it here last summer. I wrote a draft in March of 2012 that was 22 songs long then I got to SPACE last year and threw out 21 of those songs. Then I put it away because I’ve been working on another project and this is the first time I’ve been able to revisit it. It’s funny because I was doubting it a lot at first but that is exactly what the piece is about. I’m glad I was forced to keep working on it because now it has some legs to it.
How have you been spending your time at SPACE?
I’ve just been alone which has been great because it takes away that responsibility to deliver to actors and I’ve really been trying to craft the beginning of it and establish the story. It is a heightened piece by nature because of the music so I’ve been really trying to establish a world clearly so it isn’t confusing.
How is working here different from working in the city?
The isolated time is great. The city just has so many distractions and responsibility that being here—I did a Facebook fast and would leave my phone in my room. You feel like the rest of the world is away. This is a piece that is very personal and I am tapping into my own artistic journey so being in a community of artists is great for feedback and assurance. It’s nice to have that camaraderie. The other thing that’s great is that the time is regimented in such a way that I have to be writing right now. I normally write at night but you don’t come up to such a beautiful place and not get anything done. I’m not going to be the one A-hole who is wasting her time. I did get things done even though it is not my typical style of working.
What is coming up next for you and this project?
Up next I have my musical Mrs. Hughes, which is based on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, with Janine Nabers and Kate Whoriskey. We’ve been working on that for about a year and we’re continuing doing workshops and working that out. We have an adaptation of a novel called Everything Beautiful in the World. The musical is titled A Beautiful Something. It’s about a girl from New Jersey whose mother is dying of cancer and she has an affair with her teacher, so it’s a Lolita-esque story. So, we’re working on that and possibly starting another adaptation of a movie.
If you were to be reincarnated as a farm animal what would it be and why?
Socks the dog. Is that appropriate? Yeah. Socks. Everyone loves him, he’s a very emotional dog with human eyes. He comes in the room of all these depressed writers and everyone gets happier.
Anything to add?
Opportunities like SPACE are really special and imperative to writing and the chance to leave the city and come to a place like this is really special. What Emily has put together is a really necessary community for new writers because it is a lonely profession. It’s great we can all come together and share.
Interviewed by Marisa Brau.