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Showing posts with label playwright. Show all posts
Showing posts with label playwright. Show all posts

Friday, July 25, 2014

Who is Patricia Vestal?

  

One of the NC Writers' Network Regional Representatives,  Patricia Vestal, of Hendersonville, will be teaching a NetWest sponsored workshop titled "Elements of Storytelling", on Saturday, August 2, at the Grove Enterprises building, 7540 Hwy 64 West, Brasstown, NC.
  


Recently, I asked Patricia for an interview, and she graciously answered some questions.


   Glenda: Patricia, you are a native of Winston-Salem. Did you grow up there and go to school there?
   Patricia: I lived in Winston-Salem until I was 13, when my parents moved us to Jacksonville, Fl.  Every year we visited our close knit extended family back in NC and worked in a mountain visit.  I went to high school in Jacksonville and took some college classes, but got most of my undergrad and grad education after I moved to New York at age 24.

Glenda: Tell us about your early years. When did you develop an interest in writing?
Patricia: My parents took me to movies from an early age, and I developed a vivid imagination.  I recall playing “movies” and directing brother, cousins and friends in fantasy adventures.  Once I discovered books, I devoured as many as I could.  I wove stories in my mind, including what seemed then like a complex world of fairies led by a queen whose name has stayed with me and now populates a novella I’ve just finished.  I have absolutely no idea how that strange name originated in my young imagination.  So I always have been “writing.” In school I became interested in journalism, but I didn’t get the “yen” to really be a writer until I was in my early twenties.

Glenda: You have an extensive resume as an editor, writer and researcher for publishers in New York City. What were your career plans when you were growing up?
Patricia: My family was very traditional Southern.  I was expected to simply get married, have children and be a housewife. That’s what women did. I was sent into the business world to aid in the search for Mr. Right.  I always knew that I wouldn’t be content settling down early into a housewife routine.  A job with a big insurance company could have grown into an interesting and lucrative career, but I hatched another plan to save my money and move to New York, use my business experience to earn a living while I finished my education and pursued writing.  

Glenda: When did your interest in theater develop?
Patricia: My family didn’t attend theater, but I was enchanted by elementary school field trips to plays.  My real interest in drama came from TV: the golden age of drama like Studio One and other shows written by playwrights and from performances of international plays on PBS, including some New York experimental theater that opened my eyes to the possibilities of live theater. 

Glenda: You are a playwright, and earned your M.A. in Drama. Did you perform on the stage as an actor?
Patricia: In childhood, all I knew about drama was what I saw on screen, so I wanted to be an actress; but as I matured, I realized that my interest was really in creating the characters the actors portrayed and the stories they told. I did take acting lessons, but only to help me better work with performers as a writer and director.

Glenda: Your plays have been produced in Off-Off Broadway theaters. Can you tell us something about that? How did you feel when your first play was performed in NYC?
Patricia: I had the good fortune to live in New York in the late 1960’s and 1970’s when Off-Off-Broadway was blossoming.  Many plays were done in “found” spaces that brought small audiences close to the action where they could actually see the actors’ faces and feel the electricity in sharing a one-time performance experience.  I found that very exciting and it motivated my creative and educational direction.  I took classes in playwriting and screenwriting and was in a couple of valuable playwriting workshops where actors read our works-in-progress, and produced staged readings.  My first actual production was in a small theater space in the back of an East Village tavern. I felt it verified my ambition, that I really did have the ability to write plays that would be produced; and it motivated me to continue studying and writing. 

Glenda: It is obvious you are an accomplished writer and storyteller with lots of experience in this field. When and why did you become a writing and playwriting teacher?
Patricia: I got my higher education mostly in NYC while working, so it took years. In grad school at NYU I studied with professors who were involved in experimental theater, but also read the best examples of plays ever written and looked at not only how they represented excellent storytelling but also how they reflected their culture and time.  By the time I got my M.A. I was ready to leave New York.  An offer from a textbook publisher that was relocating to Florida took me closer to my aging parents and into a stable position with benefits, including a much needed retirement plan. 

When I moved to Orlando from NYC, I wanted to maintain a theater connection and was just fortunate to find a group that developed new plays that welcomed me. Theater is very collaborative and I am stimulated by the creative process.  I enjoy working with other writers.  When I got the opportunity to teach various forms of writing to college students it was a privilege to pass along the skills and knowledge I had learned from others. I was encouraged by their enthusiasm and still find nothing more rewarding than discovering  and/or helping to develop writing talent. 
After I retired to Hendersonville, I developed my Elements of Writing Workshop.

Glenda: You also write poetry. Have you always written poetry or did that come along later?
Patricia: I always wrote a little poetry, but didn't focus on it until I was living in Orlando.   The dual lives of my responsible day job and the late night hours of theater began to take a toll and I had to cut back. A friend who was in a poetry group suggested I try that genre, and I began attending their sessions and learning from them, and participated in public readings.   

When I started teaching, I had to brush up on my knowledge of the nuts and bolts of poetry for my Comp II and Creative Writing classes. I formed a school creative writing club and joined my students in reading our work at the school’s student-faculty art shows. I enjoy the discipline of compressing words into imagery that carries some resonance and find it hones my writing skills for all genres.  

Glenda: What inspires you? Where do your stories come from?
Patricia: I have a vivid and weird imagination.  I’m not particularly inspired by everyday problems.  I like to just sit in front of a blank screen, write whatever comes in my mind and go from there.  Sometimes it’s a poem.  Other times stories arise that tend to come from the broad issues that concern me; but they often come alive in a world of magical realism or satire. The novella I just finished fuses fantasy and science, hopefully told through believable, complex characters. 

Glenda: Your forthcoming workshop on August 2, "Elements of Storytelling" covers all genres. Can you help a poet as well as a fiction writer in this workshop?
Patricia: Yes. Poems use imagery, which is an essential element in bringing prose to life.  Poetry may or may not tell a story, but it can have characters, setting, voice and point of view, among others of the elements covered in my workshop.  I edit my own poetry within the context of these elements. 

Glenda: Tell us something personal about yourself that your students might find interesting to know.
Patricia: I am a nature and animal lover. I consider it a blessing to be able to live in these mountains with my cat, Tigress. 

Glenda: Thank you, Patricia, for taking time for this interview. I’m sure our readers will be glad to know you better when they take this class and will have confidence that they will learn valuable information to help them reach their goals as writers.

Glenda Council Beall, is a writer, poet and teacher. She is Owner/Director of Writers Circle Studio in Hayesville, NC.  
She serves as Clay County Representative for NCWN West, and is former Program Coordinator 2007-2009

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

MADISON: A Gary Carden Monologue Celebrating the Life of Dr. Robert Lee Madison


Once again it is our pleasure to announce the performance of a Gary Carden Monologue.  On Friday, April 26, at 7:00 PM, Gary, assisted by  Pam Meister, Curator of the Mountain Heritage Center at WCU, will present “Madison,” on the stage of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Franklin, 89 Sierra Drive.

This is the life story of Dr. Robert Lee Madison, as told by folklorist Gary Carden.  Dr. Madison  in the 1880’s promoted the idea of a school that would train teachers for the mountain schools. There were no public schools, only family schools or subscription schools. Subscription schools required teacher payment up front from families or the schools could not be convened. At best a student’s schooling was sporadic.

Cullowhee Academy was a subscription, elementary school when  Dr. Madison came to the area to finish out the school year for his brother. He found that he liked teaching very much even though it paid very little.   He added to his income by writing for the local paper. His dream of a school that would train teachers began to look more promising when nine successful farmers from the area, later known as the Noble Nine, looked for a school and teachers to educate their school age children. Their funding launched a renewed interest in acquiring land and constructing housing for a new school.

This presentation will honor two important men in our intellectual life.  Gary Carden, who is a member of  the Franklin UU Fellowship, holds degrees including an  Honorary Doctorate, from Western Carolina University.  In 2012 he received the highest honor the Governor and the State of North Carolina can bestow in the Literary Arts.


Gary wrote this monologue to celebrate the life of Dr. Robert Lee Madison, the first President of  WCU, whose guidance and persistence, made possible a university education for himself and for the Appalachian Mountain population.

Tickets for “Madison” are available:
Franklin Chamber of Commerce.               828/524-3161, 
UU Fellowship of Franklin, 89 Sierra Dr.  828/524-6777
At the door the night of the performance   
Event Co-ordinator: Virginia Wilson          828/369-8658    



Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gary Carden, long time member of Netwest will receive award


Gary Carden, playwright, storyteller and writer of wonderful tales, sent his news a few days ago.

I have just been awarded the North Carolina Award in Literature. It is the highest award given by the state. The awards ceremony will be held in Raleigh on October 30th. 


Congratulations, Gary. You deserve this special award. Your friends and fellow writers in NCWN West are proud of you.