Each year, the Writing University conducts interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home. Today we are talking with Almudena RAMÍREZ-PANTANELLA, a playwright, screenwriter, and director from Spain.
1. Hello Almudena! Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?
I am finishing the writing of a play that I have been working on in the last months during an artist-in-residency in Italy at the Royal Academy of Spain in Rome. It’s a theatre play that mixes different genres or poetic modes: it combines poetry, dramatic and argumentative, and searches to delve into the question of dramatic literature. It arises from a wonder about the meaning of poetic language and is nourished from an investigation around the figures and the relationship between the actor and the orator in ancient Rome. So, I am finishing that play. I am also working closely with a producer on the direction of my first featured film. I have previously worked as a screenwriter for different international projects, yet this will be my first credit as a director of my own screenplay. And finally, because I was inspired by my fiction writer’s colleagues at the International Writing Program, I am starting to write a short story. Let’s see where it goes.
2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?
I have no routine at all, not in my home country and not here. Nowadays, it’s a busy time workwise, so I spend pretty much the whole day, specially weekdays, writing and reading. I also try to exercise, I have realized that it is beneficial for my writing. Here I walk a lot along the river. It’s amazing the view, very inspiring.
3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
I always combine reading for research and pleasure, even though lately is mostly research for specific writing projects. I quite hate that, I miss a lot my readings just for pleasure. I always read many books at the same time, I enjoy shifting during the day from one to the other. Right now I am reading Doctor Bianco and other stories from polish writer Maciek Bielawski, poetry from Spanish poet Pureza Canela, an essay on theatre from French latinist Florence Dupont which is called Aristote ou le vampire du théâtre occidental, Isaac Asimov’s The Universe, and of course I am reading the work of mi colleagues from the International Writing Program.
4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and/or your work?
I believe up until now my work in theatre has been very diverse. For example, my first play Masters of the universe has nothing to do with my last play Alegato (Allegation), or with other plays like Theatre Operation or Regurgitar (Regurgitate). I am always experimenting with form and thinking about what does it mean and entails dramatic literature, where does theatricality lies in a theatre text, why a theatre text should be considered literature and not just a script for the stage (a performance script like some postdramatic theatre practitioners call it), a writing that is just a tool towards the stage process like screenplays. I believe this question is relevant as today everything can become a piece for the stage. We can take an essay and stage it and it is theatre. That’s why I wonder what does theatre literature means and if it is a genre that will keep existing or will fade away. I guess my writing has always been influenced by this search. On the other hand, right now I am not really interested in narrative logic in writing. I think that we are living a moment where logical drive in stories or psychological aspects of characters and realism are always present and have too much importance. I don’t think I am really into that. I believe writing comes from another place where logical reasoning doesn’t command and that ’s the beauty of it.
5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?
I am from Spain, from Madrid even though my mum comes from Italy. I have relatives there, I go quite often. I am quite in love with my language, with Spanish. I enjoy so much reading it out loud, its prosody. I also enjoy the playfulness of the people, the place that seduction, game and picaresque has in our society and in literature. I believe it keeps us alive. I ‘d like to share a book from an author from my country that I love, the book is poetic prose and its title is Mortal y rosa. The author, Francisco Umbral. And I am going to add another book from my second home country, Italy, which will be probably better known here, it’s Lezioni Americane from Italo Calvino.
Thank you Almudena!