Lucy Rose Coren: Wit, (Wine) and Wisdom
Let the glasses and the charming I've-read-pretty-much-everything smile she is sporting in her photograph fool you — what you assume probably won't be too far off. At twenty-three, we'd be willing to bet that Lucy has seen more plays and read more books than many people do in like, seventeen lifetimes. Lucy's awareness of her ancestry as a writer and thinker, which she's cultivated through reading, is evident in her work. She knows what's been said, thought and done before (i.e. almost everything) by her predecessors, as well as how well they have done it (hello, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare). As a result, her work has a kind of lightness to it, an it's-not-even-possible-to-take-myself-too-seriously vibe that is neither lazy or reactionary. With her sharp wit and clever humor, Lucy's work humorously explores the difficulties of being young, intelligent, sensitive, and alive to all life's inevitable tragedies and desires that have been explored again and again over centuries but which still demand to be felt, witnessed, written about. The self-conscious and self-questioning nature of her work allows her to meet and address an attitude of skepticism and disillusionment that fails to eradicate our real need for belief and truth — even if it sometimes is illusionary. Though her themes may be dark and deep, Lucy's work remains hilariously fun, sharp, insightful and full of hope.
If that's not enough to convince you that you absolutely have to make it out to see Lucy read on July 28th, here is one more reason. In early August, she is flying off to New Zealand for a while to farm kiwis and make cheese or something, which means this will be your last chance to see her for quite some time. (Don't worry. Her friends are totally not upset about this.) So do come!
Here is what Lucy had to tell us about herself and her work.
1) To give people who have never experienced your work before an idea of what they’re getting themselves into (and in the cinematic spirit of ‘famous sequels’), riddle me this: If your body of work was a Hollywood movie, what would it be about, what genre of film would it be, and who would star?
Oh definitely something written and directed by Michael Haneke. Misanthropic. Dark. Sexually twisted.
No, it would probably be an action movie. And it would be extremely well written. And star Sylvester Stallone..
I just really want to write Expendables 3.
2) And (most importantly), what would its 80s-action-blockbuster style tagline be?
"People said it shouldn't happen..."
3) Can you identify when it was that you really began to write (seriously or otherwise)? Was there anyone or anything that inspired you to start writing?
I always remember reading. I remember sitting for hours getting lost in books (and eating mustard on bread..that's weird right?). Writing just seemed a natural progression from that. Whenever I'd read a story that I thought should have ended or developed differently, I would write it myself. Then as I got older, themes and style changed from simple straight-forward story-telling to the inevitable pretentious idiosyncratic stuff of age 18-20, to where I (think) I am now at 23 — satirical, character driven comedy.
4) Now that you’ve gotten a little older, are there any themes or images you find yourself coming back to? If so, what are they, and why do you think resonate with you?
A recurring theme I seem to keep engaging in is the negotiation of ambiguity. The older I get and the more people that I meet, the more interesting I find learning about different people's methods of either ignoring or entering into dialogue with it, and the result.
Also ships. I think that's just because I want to be a pirate.
5) In the works of other authors, are there any particular subjects or styles you are drawn towards? For that matter, are there any writers who you specifically admire?
Absolutely, although I'd have to distinguish between authors who I admire, and authors who I wish or have tried to emulate. I specialized in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama in university, so those sort of themes and how they ambitiously approached them are constantly on my mind, but I've never tried to emulate their style (except for a collection of sonnets that have since been burned — you're welcome). I suppose the writer who's been the most informative thematically is Graham Greene. His characters are so morally ambiguous, so deliciously human — not bad, not good. Stylistically, I suppose William Goldman has been a massive influence. Stylistically and professionally. He's a screenwriter who began by adapting his own novels to film. If you ever had a sec, pick up Magic by him. Then watch the movie with Anthony Hopkins. He's a writer's dream.
Also Tom Stoppard. That talented bastard.
6) Moving away from written work for a moment: what sorts of things do you do when you’re not writing?
Ohhh God, this is all going to sound so generic. No, fuck that — I breed llamas. Got a whole farm of em. They wear sweater vests and are irritatingly literate in continental philosophy.
Also I love films, listen to music, see a lot of theater and work out. And drink wine (you can't see it but I'm drinking some now).
7) In the booze-friendly spirit of Ruckus, give us a pairing: one of your favourite works/authors and one of your favourite beverages (alcoholic or not). Why do they go together? How do they complement one another?
My favorite play that isn't from the late 16th/17th century, is Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. Sitting down with that and half a bottle of Shiraz after a hot shower may be one of the most pleasurable thing ever. And I've had conversations about Kierkegaard with llamas, so...
8) Can you give us a little written trailer of what you’re going to be reading on July 28th?
I'm going to be presenting three characters from my new play, Footnotes, and some dialogue that occurs in and outside of the action of the play. Footnotes is a play I've been working on for the past year. It's a movement away from the material I was writing before (again, plays) and more toward subjects, situations and characters that are more immediately relevant. Footnotes is about five people, four of whom have just graduated from university in some sort of arts program. They all shrewdly decide to move in together for a week in order to come up with a practical and lucrative arts project, in the hope of preempting a life of poverty, struggle and cliche. Obviously, it all goes horribly wrong.
You'll be introduced to Daisy, Rita and Nick.
9) Last question: give us a short (less than 75 words) third-person bio blurb about yourself which covers any awards/distinctions you're proud of and what you're tackling right now.
Lucy Coren has been writing for stage for about seven years now. She won Best Original Playwright award at the Sears Drama Festival in 2008 for her play, There Ain't No Sanity Clause. Her next play was performed at Hart House Theater as part of their student festival in 2011. Called, Civilization and its Dissed Contents, she now recognizes the trend of bad puns and has put a stop to it. Subsequently, her new play that she is currently finishing is called, Footnotes, material from which she will be presenting at Ruckus Readings II. Lucy has also been the arts editor for The Mike newspaper at U of T where she had a weekly column.