Meet the Fellows:
What was your first experience with Theater?
I was born the most theatrical child in my family and by theatre I mean drama. I was very sickly so I was closer friends with my Mom than the children in my neighborhood. My mom had lots of back issues when I was little, and I can remember her having to be in traction A LOT and I would entertain her by telling jokes or just generally being a jackass. The most theatrical thing I did in these random entertainments is a one woman rendition of Gone With The Wind. Now, in hindsight, I can see how disturbing it is to see a 7 year-old Black baby performing Butterfly McQueen’s infamous “birthin’ babies” shtick, but at the time I could only think of my mother’s laughter and how for, even just a little bit, I was making her forget about her pain. I consider this my first theatrical experience because it was the first time in my life I personally experienced how magical story telling could be.
When did you recognize you were a writer? Or when did you start writing?
I knew I liked writing since I was about 16 years old (probably even younger). I always kept a journal. Me and my elementary school best friend who, coincidentally, was named Naomi Wallace, would write deliciously evil bathroom humor riddled stories for the delight of our classmates. I think there was even a tape, like a comedy tape. I began to take writing more seriously while married and during my divorce. My ex-husband was always an advocate for me becoming a writer, but it was the pain of divorcing him that really fueled my return to school in 2008 for a BA in theatre (at the ripe old age of 30 no less!), which lead to Tisch, which lead here.
Where does your inspiration come from? Or who do you look to for inspiration?
Inspiration can literally come from anywhere. My patients (I’m a respiratory therapist), my family, the zeitgeist, my cats and my friends. I won’t say my ears are always piqued for a potential story, but rather if something (a situation, a conversation, an emotion) triggers a question (usually a what if question) then lingers around in my mind, the odds are it will eventually become a play. Now the trick is I have to jump on it and I have to write or it will vanish in the ether, and that sucks. It sucks really bad. I often feel compelled to write about certain things based on who I am: Black and female, but being compelled isn’t enough. Often when I try to write out of obligation the way is rougher. In the name of getting the work done, I keep the pen moving as much as I can, and when the right “what if” drops in for a visit, I’m ready. What’s really great, is that all the big things I want to write about, the Black American experience, being a woman, being a weirdo, all come out in the work in a way that’s so much better than I would have conjured in my conscious mind.
What are you most looking forward to as a fellow and hope to accomplish this year?
Writing a new play! Growing more confident as a playwright. Hearing the wonderful work of my cohort. I’ve learned to keep my expectation reasonable and let my mind be blown by what the Universe really has in store.
What do you find most rewarding about the writing process?
Confirmation that I’m not nuts. Seriously. And this is where I get all other worldly, but whatever. Stephen King in On Writing talks about writing is like channeling from another world (I’m paraphrasing). I’ve always have stories, characters, ideas, filling my head demanding to get out, and now I’m letting them. I was not necessarily raised to be imaginative. It happened without my permission and partially due to the isolation that severe asthma blessed me with leaving me with nothing but books and television as playmates (and Harper’s Bazaar, always Harper’s Bazaar). I’m grateful for what the process of writing has given me: Permission to trust myself, permission to tell the truth, and a slew of fantastic allies to walk with on the journey.
Stacey Rose is a proud mom, theatre artist, and filmmaker from Charlotte, NC by way of Elizabeth, NJ. She holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts were she was honored with the NYU Grey Gallery Prize in collaboration with The Studio Museum of Harlem for her short play My Pet, the 2015 Outstanding Writing for Stage playwriting award, was a 2014–15 Future Screenwriter Fellow, and was a 2015 Fusion Film Festival finalist for her script television pilot Up-And-Coming. Her recent work includes the production of her short film Fun, the third in the series of films for The Perceptions Project. Stacey strives to create work which entertains, challenges, educates and empowers both the audience and her collaborators. Her work typically focuses issues of Black identity, race disparity, the dilemma of “otherness”, and cats … cause she loves them. http://dgfund.org/fellows/stacey-rose/