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  • 2018 Dates: Session 1, June 24 - July 6; Session 2, July 8-27

Introducing Sallie Merkel, Screen & Playwriting Faculty

When do you feel compelled to make a note in the margins of a text?

I write in my books in order to disrupt well-ordered hierarchy of printed text – to maximize the minimal, to claim more space than the limited number of letters representing an idea or identity take up. My own code of glyphs imposed on a pre-existing map: I’ll cast a circle with my pen or pencil to isolate, single-out or protect a section of language from its surroundings. I’ll link it to my own set of words with a line, a bridge between worlds. I will underline in order to emphasize the places where the original writer’s words exceed the page and jump out into my life, or are woefully insufficient, pulling me into the text with questions (Who? What? Where? When? Why?). An exclamation point in the margins when something feels so right. A question mark in the margins when something feels so wrong.

All writing is spellcasting. And writing on top of and around published text is interventionist spellcasting. Reclamation. Identification. Finding yourself in someone else. Or finding yourself in contrast to someone else, to something that came before; in lineage, but perhaps disrupting that line.

One of my favorite plays to teach at YWW is “Eurydice” by Sarah Ruhl. We read the myth of Orpheus as told in the Edith Hamilton “Mythology” textbook:

When he first met and how he wooed the maiden he loved, Euridice, we are not told, but it is clear that no maiden he wanted could have resisted the power of his song. They were married, but their joy was brief. Directly after the wedding, as the bride walked in a meadow with her bridesmaids, a viper stung her and she died.

“… a viper stung her and she died” - an insufficient half-sentence. We do not get her underworld journey. Only his. Circle. Underline. Question mark. Exclamation point. Ruhl takes this as an opening; an opportunity to craft her own narrative from the marginalia. A narrative that exceeds and contains the original, shifts the perspective. Every mark we make in the margins holds this possibility: spells cast for new stories.

Sallie Merkel goes by “Merkel,” a name she inherited from her con-artist grandfather. Like her grandfather, Merkel spends much of her time making up stories and pretending to be other people: performing with her improv group GiRL CRUSH, acting in theater and film, developing original performance pieces and writing screenplays. You can watch “Dandy Nails With Sandy”, her lo-fi, existential sci-fi mystery in the form of nail-art tutorials here. Her web series “The Commons,” a cable-access style morning talk show for witches by witches, premieres in October. She is also the editor of the blog The Garden Party (grdnparty.org). www.salliemerkel.com