Q&A with Stella Friskney on student-led play

Senior Stella Friskney reflects on her inspiration, writing and directing process, future plans, and more. Her play, Lady Disdain, was first put on stage in the Studio Theatre on Jan. 12.

By Stella Friskney

Katie Hur

Briefly, what is Lady Disdain about?

Lady Disdain is a modern re-telling of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The one-act play is set in Morningside Heights, New York, in 1999. We follow two roommates, Donna and Kitty, during one unhinged night when they decide to have a party. A Scottish cockroach, creepy twins, and an unhelpful superintendent all make appearances.

What message were you trying to spread with this play?

I wrote this play with my future as an English major in mind. I aimed to share my passion of Shakespeare with a modern audience, in a modern context. The message I was trying to lace through my script was that while Shakespeare or literature in general might be considered archaic, these stories have a vibrancy that can still resonate today.

Who or what inspired this play?

William Shakespeare was my chief inspiration, having based my play off Much Ado About Nothing. I drew on Much Ado’s character relationships, plot points, and even directly quoted the play to infuse my script with even more elements of the original. In fact, the title, Lady Disdain, is a quote from the first act of Shakespeare’s play.

Why did you decide to write your own student-led?

I wanted to push my writing abilities. I wanted to see if I was capable or had enough will power to create a large piece of writing.

What was your favorite part of this experience?

My favorite part of this process has been incorporating that cast into the show. It’s such an exciting feeling to put a tangible face to a character that had only existed in my head up until then. The cast interpreted my words in ways I hadn’t thought of – adding their own layers to the story.

Do you see yourself following a career path in theater, particularly writing and directing?

Creating content, whether that be through writing, editing, or storytelling is something that I am very much interested in pursuing in the future.

What is one thing you would tell future Park Tudor student-led writers and directors?

I would tell future student-led directors to incorporate your cast/co-director into as many aspects of the process as possible. Allowing other people to collaborate with you truly expedites the process, which can be very tedious at times.