What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Suzanne Heathcote and I’m from England originally. I live in New York.
What project have you been working on at SPACE?
I have been working on a new play. It’s a story about three women. It’s three different stories essentially, and each story is about a woman of a different generation and the digital revolution. Yes, so there’s a teenager, a woman in her 30s and a woman in her 70s and they’re three very separate stories, and they interlink.
Is it from this time period?
How have you been spending your time at SPACE?
Writing and actually, something about SPACE that has been the most beneficial is enabling myself to have the room for thought. I think so often in New York, you set yourself time to write it involves you sitting and staring at your computer or pad and you feel that you have to physically be putting words in written form. But actually giving yourself time to really imagine, and think, and visualize, is just as essential and so being up here has enabled me to do that too which has been invaluable.
How have you found your time being used in your first week here versus now in your third and final week?
Right. So the first week, I’d say the first week was much more about me, I mean I was sort of trying to figure out what the play was about which is a very frustrating period in terms of my process. So it feels like you’re getting nowhere because you’re basically figuring out all the things you don’t want it to be. So you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, but actually you are because through that you’re whittling down what it isn’t, before you decide what it is. But in order to do that it was, I was spending the morning, I would walk and think, more ethereal activities and then the afternoons writing, whereas now I’m just in the writing faze, I’m just purely writing.
Do you think that’s more about your process or how you’ve chosen to use SPACE?
Combination of the two. It was an unconscious choice but I do think there’s something to… also because in my last week so there’s something of, you know, and I’ve got a reading in New York so I’ve got to… there’s something of that productivity pushing me forward but also because I’m at a stage where the ideas have formed and so I’m excited to get them on the page, whereas whilst they were still forming, and my process is such that, I wish I could but I can’t put anything on the page until I really understand what the play is, and by the page I mean in dialogue form. I’ve gone through two notebooks here of what the play’s about and outlining, but I can’t dialogue scenes until I really understand what it is that’s happening. And so, the first week and a half particularly, I think two weeks really, have been about getting to grips with that and fully understanding what that is. So in answer to your question I think it’s a combination of the two.
What’s coming up next for you?
So I’ve just won the Founders Award with New York Stage and Film and that means I’m literally leaving here, I’m going to the city for the week and then I’ll be at Vassar College for all of July. I’ll be writing up there, they’ll be doing a reading of a play of mine and yeah. It’s a month-long residency with them. And then I’ll be back here for another stint and then England for a brief bit, and then I’ll be in Los Angeles. I’ve got some projects happening there. I’ve got a reading with Chris Messina and some TV work I’m working on, so yeah it’s busy but very good, good busy.
About writing for film…
That said I’m very excited about storytelling for screen and I think the diversity and actually the challenges that it brings are exciting challenges. And I also feel that as a playwright who enjoys silence so much, the screen excites me because I’m allowed to have those moments even more on screen than I am in a play and I can tell story physically more because of close up and the detail that gives me. There are things that really excite me about that, you just have to let go of your ego in as much as what your role in the process will be and know that your job is really done once the script is in. Depending on the project and who’s working on it, everything is slightly different essentially, but essentially if you’ve been commissioned to write a screenplay, once final draft is done, your job is over.
As playwrights we actually have an enormous amount of freedom in as much, you know you could set something on the moon if you want and then have two sunflowers talking if you so desire, and no one’s gonna question that, you know, it’s just a very different craft, but both come with their own challenges and both come with their own joy.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal what would you be and why?
Ooo a farm animal. I think, god what would I be? I think I would be. I’m trying to think specifically farm animals. I think I would be a border collie. A dog. Because I need mental stimulation in the way that they do, and they have this kinda boundless energy which I can also empathize with. They’re not sedentary and they kinda seem like social animals which I can also relate to, so that’s what I’d be, yeah.
What’s your favorite place to write?
It changed actually because I’ve done a long stint here. I love being outdoors when the weather permits but I guess… well the Dining Room and the Corncrib would be my natural places, yeah.
Interviewed by Jasmine Stiefel.