Cheryl West | Creative City



Cheryl West

From the moment you set foot in Seattle, you can feel it: art is everywhere.

The thriving arts scene is a priority in this city—in fact, Seattle has been recognized for having more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Americans for the Arts. Playwright Cheryl West is one of the contributors to this creative city. Read on for a look at the city through her artistic lens.

Q&A with Cheryl West

Where do the literary folks hang out in Seattle?

Hedgebrook has a lot of ongoing readings with ways for writers to get together. I’m an alum of that— it’s a [women’s] writers’ retreat out on Whidbey Island. They do the Women Playwright’s Festival every year in May. There’s also Hugo House, which does a lot of public readings.

Does the city influence your work as a playwright?

Oh my, yes. Well first of all, there’s a certain cultural heartbeat here. There are museums and artists and art and you can go to all the neighborhoods and they feel very distinct and unique. I particularly like the area around Alki, as I see the water as infinite possibility, which is a metaphor for what writers are after, to keep exploring the possibility of the human experience.

Seattle also has lots of bookstores—I like Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. I used to go there and have lunch and write for 6-7 hours. The other one I like is Elliott Bay Books. That’s a great bookstore because they have so many books that you might not find somewhere else. You can find big photo books and very unique books. Bookstores have a tactile feel—I love touching books, sometimes it just helps me [in my work].

What kinds of family activities do you enjoy?

I have a daughter who plays basketball, and one of our favorite things to do is go to Seattle Storm games. We like to go to Storm games because you can really scream—and sometimes in life you really need that valve, that release. How many areas of your life can you just scream? That’s a real highlight to have a women’s basketball team in our city. Whenever my mom comes into town, we go see them, so it’s a real family activity.

We also love the parades here in town. There are some unique parades—like the Fremont Solstice Parade. There’s all that difference that is just accepted.

How did you choose the neighborhood you live in?

I chose the Central District because I wanted diversity for my kids. It’s diverse in terms of income, age, and color. And it’s close to everything. I’m in a place where I can get downtown in seven or eight minutes, or it’s just a jump to Capitol Hill. It has a lot to offer. There are people who are older and more established there and know the history of the neighborhood, and then new people are coming in with their energy. And we have a great farmers market on Martin Luther King and Union.

Was there anything that surprised you about Seattle when you first moved here?

The amount of culture that goes on here, that the city does things like bring writers in to Benaroya Hall, that all of these theaters are here, that there are festivals everywhere. And all the wineries that are nearby—just over in Woodinville—that you can visit for a day trip. I love the ferries and the idea of ferries. Before I came here, I’d never been on a ferry in my life. I was like, “How does this work?” That was pretty fun! I’d seen it in movies, but had never experienced it, so that was pretty great. And the islands have their own cultural heritage. It’s very rich and there’s something for everybody. I don’t think you could ever get bored in this city.



Interview by Jess Van Nostrand, 2012.

Photo taken at Leschi.


Meet playwright Cheryl West as she talks about the world premiere production of her play “Pullman Porter Blues”.



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