ANDREA HAIRSTON ON WHY PLOT ISN’T A DIRTY WORD, WHAT THEATRE CAN TEACH NOVELISTS (MF GALAXY 092)


WHAT THEATRE + SFF HAVE IN COMMON, ULTIMATE WORKAROUND FOR INTROVERT WRITERS TO IMPROVE VOICE + DIALOGUE


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Andrea Hairston is amazing. She’s a novelist, essayist, playwright, and the Artistic Director of Chrysalis Theatre. Any science fiction plays in the bunch? Let’s see—how about Soul Repairs, Lonely Stardust, Hummingbird Flying Backward, Dispatches, and Archangels of Funk. 

But who’s produced her plays? Oh, only Yale Rep, Rites and Reason, the Kennedy Center, Stage West, and US public radio and public television.

Can she translate German plays into English? Yup.

Any awards? Just a few… for playwriting and directing awards: a National Endowment for the Arts Grant to Playwrights, a Rockefeller/NEA Grant for New Works, an NEA grant to work as dramaturge/director with playwright Pearl Cleage, a Ford Foundation Grant to collaborate with Senegalese Master Drummer Massamba Diop, a Shubert Fellowship for Playwriting, and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship for 2003.

What about books? Well, there are Redwood and Wildfire, winner of the 2011 Tiptree Award and the Carl Brandon Kindred Award, and Mindscape, shortlisted for the Phillip K Dick and Tiptree Awards, and winner of the Carl Brandon Parallax Award. Plus the collection Lonely Stardust, and her play Thunderbird was published in the SFF drama anthology Geek Theater.

Okay, we get it. Except there’s also teaching and literary criticism: she’s the Louise Wolff Kahn 1931 Professor of Theatre and Afro-American Studies at Smith College, and she won the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts Distinguished Scholarship Award for outstanding contributions to the criticism of the fantastic.

So what’d we talk about by Skype on September 12, 2016? 

  • Why SFF novelists and playwrights appreciate plot in a way that literary writers and academics almost never do
  • What a Drama department offers students, teachers, and writers that they can’t get anywhere else
  • Why there’s liberation in understanding that talent is a myth
  • How any writer can improve dialogue by using the standard toolbox of playwrights

Check her website here. 

And if you want to hear all the amazing stuff she told me about how her favourite teachers changed her life, and how, then just sign up on Patreon for a buck or more per show.

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