“I was entirely shocked to have been accepted,” says local playwright Kristin Slaney, on the news of her acceptance to Columbia University, to their notoriously difficult-to-get-accepted-to playwriting program. And since opening that fateful email, Slaney has kicked it into high gear, fundraising to support the costly, but no doubt beneficial, experience.
“They only take around ten people a year, so I wasn't really expecting an acceptance. I saw the email telling me, and then I ran into my boyfriend's room and said ‘I've been accepted to Columbia!’ followed by, ‘Oh no, I've been accepted to Columbia.’,” says Slaney. At $50,000 a year, Slaney needed to plan. An Indiegogo campaign (still running), a rummage sale, a public reading of her play The Beekeepers by actors Glen Matthews, Margaret Legere, Keelin Jack, Lesley Smith and Zach Faye—”It's a script I started developing through the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre's Annual Playwrights Colony in Sackville, NB,” she says. “The play is about the suburbs, economic disparity in Canada and backyard beekeeping.”—helped raise some cash, and until Slaney leaves for the Big Apple, she plans to stay on her grind. This Friday, August 9, 6-9pm at the Atlantic Beer Institute in the Keith's Brewery, for $15 a ticket (email [email protected] for tickets) an open mic, fueled by an open bar, allows you to get creative in the name of a good cause.
Slaney isn’t only aiming for the stars for herself, she’s also hoping for more for our local theatre scene as well. “My plan is to continue my playwriting career in Halifax, if I can. I love Halifax, and I love the theatre community here. It's a really supportive group of people,” she says. That’s something Slaney is fully familiarized with after the success of her fundraising attempts. But she mentions a place that we could use improvement: namely, artist development. “There aren't really any classes for acting or writing for professional theatre artists, beyond the university level. In the past year I've gone to the Banff Centre and Montreal to do week-long workshops or classes in writing. It's great to go elsewhere and learn, but it would be good if there were more chances to train right here in the city.”
Before she comes back home, though, Slaney aims to make the most of her opportunity. “I grew up in Cole Harbour, and have lived in Halifax for around six years, and while I've done some traveling I haven't really lived anywhere else,” she says. “I want the opportunity to be in a new place, surrounded by entirely new perspectives, to see what that does to me as a person and also as a writer. The people teaching in the program are artists whose work I really admire. I want to take in a lot of different art forms too---and of course see a ridiculous amount of theatre.”