5Q Interview: Nina Morrison, MFA Candidate in Playwriting

The Writing University conducts a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

Today we are talking with Nina Morrison, an MFA candidate in the Iowa Playwrights Workshop from Charlottesville, Virginia!


  1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for the current year?

    I was thinking that next I could write a play titled something like Gentle Men about fragility and masculinity. I’ve been so obsessed with femininity and power that I thought maybe I should explore the reverse. I’m scared it would be awful, though, since we are living through a time of so many fragile men with so much power wreaking so much havoc maybe I won’t do that. I have a bunch of other plays to revise. I will work on those first and then revisit this idea.
     
  2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?

    Being in graduate school has made me seem like this really organized writer, but I’m not. I just respond well to deadlines and a structured environment. I am so bad about writing without a deadline that when I lived in NYC I would actually rent a performance space a few months out from when I wanted to be done with a play so that I knew I would have to write something. It makes no sense. I love writing, but I guess I need external motivation, and when it is not readily available, I have to create it. I’m even sending the answers to these questions shamefully late because the editor who sent them seemed really chill about response time in her email. 
     
  3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

    I just started reading Less by Andrew Sean Greer which is famous and won the Pulitzer, but I’m reading it because my best friend described it as the gay man version of Eat, Pray, Love which I liked. Me liking Eat, Pray, Love put a massive strain on our friendship, and she just finished Less and was not that impressed (because it reminded her of EPL). When she told me about it she heavily dragged the Pulitzer committee for choosing it (“sometimes they just have an off year”), then recommended it to me as someone who has liked over-hyped mediocre novels in the past. I’m reading it for pleasure. 
     
  4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?

    There is an actress based in Iowa City who is a friend and collaborator and often a muse for my writing. She is in her 80’s and has lived in Iowa City since her 20’s, so she is definitely a reader and writer of Iowa City. Though we have worked together many times, and we are great friends my writing has never been her cup of tea. I invited her to my thesis play as a courtesy but told her I didn’t actually expect her to come see it because I knew she would hate it. She came to see it anyway. The next week she took me out to lunch to celebrate and told me that if it had been written by anyone else she would have walked out. When I dropped her home as she was getting out of the car she said “I thought the menstruation scene was gross.” I thanked her for her honesty. We went out for pie the next day.
     
  5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some details you would like to share about your home?

    I’m from Charlottesville, Virginia, originally, which is now known for the horrible and tragic events of last fall. I don’t know what else to say about that. After I graduated from college I moved to New York City where I lived for 17 years so I consider it my other home. I enjoyed the first ten years of NYC and the next seven were kinda rough because I was over it. Then I moved to Iowa City for grad school and have lived here for five years. Hy-Vee is the greatest grocery store I have ever experienced.

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Thank you Nina!

Nina Morrison is a playwright, director and devisor. A recent graduate of the Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa, Nina was a 2018 finalist for the New Dramatists Playwriting Residency. She received the 2017 Richard Maibaum Playwriting Award for her play Aurora fra Bergen, or, Ibsanity. which was presented at Fordham University in February 2018. Nina’s play The Age of Innocence was presented in the 2018 Iowa New Play Festival. Select NYC credits: Arrow In and Girl Adventure: Parts 1-4 were presented by Dixon Place, The HOT! Festival and the Little Theatre series. Nina was a Dixon Place Artist-in-Residence, and she was a WORKSPACE Writer-in-Residence, a residency program of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. BA University of Mary Washington, MFA Directing 2016, MFA Playwrights Workshop 2018 University of Iowa.

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