Desirée Gezentsvey (Scriptwriting, 2005)

With Ken Duncum calmly and wisely guiding us through the roller coaster journey, the MA was an enlightening experience.

Desirée writes: 'Sharing a creative space with my talented classmates and Ken Duncum, or Zen-Ken, as I like to think of him, calmly and wisely guiding us through the roller coaster journey the MA undoubtedly is, was an enlightening experience.

'From the panic that set in when I changed my mind about my original screenplay, knowing that my classmates were well into their first drafts while I was still trying to figure out ideas and storylines, I learnt to trust my process. From writing my script I learnt that I love the adrenaline rush that comes when I finally get started, and that the inevitable moments of "What the hell am I doing?" are occasionally followed by flashes of "This feels amazing!" I learnt that a draft is just a base from which to launch into an editing adventure; that being open to feedback brings about gifts, and that occasionally the gift lies in sticking with what you believe is at the heart of your story. I learnt that for every "yes" there are many "no’s", and that there’s a time and place for everything so nothing you write is ever wasted.

'I liken my MA year to the beautiful tree outside the IIML. You arrive in summer, good and ready to go. Autumn brings about self-doubt and fear, which is followed by a wintery blast that leaves you exposed, forced to get real with yourself and others. Slowly but surely spring arrives and you start to glimpse the joy of creation and wish those breathtaking pink blossoms could stay like that forever… By the end of the year my screenplay had succeeded in getting Ken to shed a few tears (in a good way - bit of a class challenge and personal goal!), I had several new projects on the go, and a feeling of gratitude and excitement, albeit mixed with the ever-daunting question "Now what?" '

Bio: Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Desirée has lived in New Zealand since 1985 with her husband and three daughters. She has a BA in Modern Languages, an MA in Creative Writing – Scriptwriting (IIML), and an MA in Literary Translation – Spanish-English/English-Spanish (VUW).

Desirée has published a bilingual book of poetry, Next Time Around / la próxima vez (Steele Roberts). Her poetry piece 'Under the Southern Stars' was recorded and broadcast by Radio New Zealand, and seven of her poems were set to music by award winning NZ composer Dorothy Buchanan. She has had poetry published in KAUPAPA: New Zealand Poets, world issues (Ed. H. Baker & M. McMillan), Poetry NZ, Dominion Post, Taboo Haiku Anthology (North Carolina, USA). She has had short plays and films produced. Her short film Outside In, co-written with her daughter Lara, was a finalist in the 2006 Moonlight Short Film Competition in Auckland.

Desirée won the Best Stageplay Award for Nuclear Family (Script) at the 2011 Moondance International Festival Competition. Nuclear Family premiered at the 2011 Adelaide Fringe Festival, and has had acclaimed seasons at the 2011 London Solo Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Top 100 Must-See Shows list), Norden Farm Centre of the Arts, Wellington’s Circa Theatre and Auckland’s Q Theatre, all performed solo by Desirée’s daughter, Yael. Praise for Nuclear Family:

'A play that deserves to be the talk of the fringe.' (Edinburgh Fringe Review)
'An exceptional piece of theatre not to be missed!' (Fringe Benefits)
'Intricate writing and beautiful voices... a thoroughly engaging story...' (Three Weeks)
'Remarkable… heartfelt… well worth seeing.' (Dominion Post)
'Funny and gut-wrenching, riveting and moving, earnest and heartfelt… thought-provoking and exceptionally written piece performed flawlessly.' (Keeping Up With NZ)

Desirée has also been involved in various projects as script development consultant, and as a literary translator. Among her translations are 'Antonio by Sundown' by Johnny Gavlovsky, published in Been There, Read That: The Armchair Traveller’s Companion, edited by Jean Anderson (VUP), poems by Fiona Farrell, the stageplay Niu Sila by Dave Armstrong and Oscar Kightley, the stageplay adaptation ofThe Great Gatsby by Ken Duncum, and the book Náhuatl Stories, Indigenous Tales from Mexico by Pablo Gonzáles Casanova (VUP).

Read more: