Friday, February 18, 2011

GPP 034: Talking with Sean, Part One

Sean Hurley is a storyteller, a producer for New Hampshire Public Radio, a songwriter whose material has appeared on the Ron and Fez show, the creator of Sherwin Sleeves, the Atoms, Motion, and the Void stories, and the incomplete young adult story The Rule Book and Calendar of Kittery Embers. He's created a remarkable body of work in only a few years, and even turned his work into a one-man play. If you don't know who he is already, or who Sherwin Sleeves is -- you will!

Sean kindly gave me almost two hours of his time on Skype for a loose, unedited chat about his work and his process, how his stories developed from a character, and finding the permission and the fearlessness to do creative work and put it out into the world. Think of it as inspiration.

I'm sorry that Part One ends rather abruptly -- the conversation was pretty free-flowing, and I was not really able to find a good breaking point, so I just had to pick one and break the chat into two parts. I felt that it was just too long to present as one piece.

MP3 File

Show Notes

Sean uses a Rode Microphone

I'm using an Oktava MK-219

Information about the mod I'm contemplating can be found here

You can listen to the emergence of Sean Hurley's alter-ego, Sherwin Sleeves, here.

Here's a recent piece he did for New Hampshire Public Radio.

You can find his work on Atoms, Motion and the Void here (personally I think you might enjoy starting with this episode), and Sean has suggested starting with this one. To keep up with his ongoing Atoms, Motion and the Void story, consider becoming a Stalwart.

Meatball Fulton

The Fourth Tower of Inverness

Moon Over Morocco

The ZBS Foundation productions are not available free online but can be found here. Some of the works on CD can be found on Amazon.

2 comments:

Sherwin Sleeves said...

Paul, that was a lot of fun! Thanks so much for inviting me onto the GPP!

-sean

Paul R. Potts said...

I'm still trying to puzzle out exactly how it went, as far as being an effective interview, at the same time that I'm just trying to take what lessons I can take for future interviews and then let it go. I think it was successful in some ways; I've gotten several compliments, and personally I got at least 3 very intriguing points out of it. Specifically:

I found it very startling to hear the extent in which you were writing the Kittery Embers and AMV storylines _without_ a pre-planned arc, outline, or what-have-you. I'm used to doing that kind of thing in a short story form, which might start with only an extremely flimsy idea or image, but it is encouraging to think that the same process could not only work with a longer arc, but to hear you tell it, might work _better_, in that the finished product would display something more of that dynamic act of creation, which when I come to think about it is what storytelling really is. I really like the idea that a creative work like this can get written, basically, off the cuff, starting with a blank page, and that part of the motivation for yourself was writing your characters _into_ a cliffhanger, and then having to get them _out_ of it.

Another point I found interesting was the extent to which, as you described, basically everything appeared out of the character and the voice. In addition, there was the notion that without the voice, the story might not feel authentic, or compelling, or help the audience to suspend disbelief, and that the accent seems to you like an integral part of that.

And, last, the notion that you did the one-man show without a formal theater background, and would push through the shows even with, as you described, the moments of utter blankness in which you really had no confidence that the text would come back into your brain. I found that very encouraging as well, basically giving me a sense of "you know, you could some kind of performance too, and the fear about doing something like this might be a good indication that you should!" I have been doing some live music performing and enjoying it, and pushing through that fear has yielded rewards.

When I came up with the first round of questions I sent you via e-mail, I intended to poke a lot more at obvious literary questions, because I come from that critical background and it is safe and mostly of no consequence. Although some of that was interesting, ultimately I'm much more glad that we mostly left that behind and talked about how art can and ought to get done!