Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MacDowell Month Highlight: Star Studio

From MacDowell, Vol. 39, No.1 Summer 2010

When I first entered Star Studio, I noted immediately — and with relief — how pared down its contents were. Two desks were just the number I needed. A dictionary was the only book I wanted, and there it was.

The studio was gloriously devoid of Internet access yet within walking distance of a wireless network. This arrangement meant I was not so cut off that my agent panicked, but neither was I at the mercy of her always plugged-in work habits. Building a fire provided just the meditative activity that I, on occasion, needed. The simplicity of the studio was like a whetstone that honed my attention to a razor-sharp edge.

The cumulative result was the ability to squeeze three days of work out of every 24-hour period. The world that “is too much with us” fell away. In New York, I write before noon but by lunch I feel like I have to plug my phone back in and start returning calls. MacDowell has a different pace, and noon simply became the time when I could retrieve my lunch basket. My only company when I ate was four walls, two large windows, and those uncluttered desks. As I began my afternoon shift, my writing became focused — more alert to itself. Dinnertime arrived just when it needed to and then later, buoyed by the company of powerful artists at the communal meal, I returned to my cabin and worked yet again before retiring. I slept blissfully, in sight of my notebooks, knowing I could resume work when my eyelids opened and the day announced itself.

Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas’s awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. His plays include Maleta Mulata, Sleepwalkers, and Blind Mouth Singing, which was praised as having “visionary wit” by the Chicago Tribune and called “beautiful and strange” by The New York Times. Cortiñas is on the faculty at Lehigh University and belongs to the New York Theatre Workshop and New Dramatists.


Star Studio was the first studio donated by an outside organization:
the music sorority Alpha Chi Omega.

1 comment: