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‘New Yorker’ cartoonist launches residencies

A new gem is popping up in Williamsport.

Emily Flake, a cartoonist and writer for the New Yorker, is bringing about a new type of residency. The purpose of this establishment is to provide female creators with a space to work nonstop on writing projects, focusing specifically on humor related projects. Creators can produce anything such as stand-up routines, satire pieces, screenplays, comics and novels with a humor-based genre.

Flake’s passion for being a writer and cartoonist stemmed from a very early age. Growing up, she was always drawing and writing, but when being an actress was not in the cards, she changed her career path.

She said that working for the New Yorker is a dream come true and given that she is freelance and not an employee, it is the best of both worlds.

Flake wanted to be able to give back, after having been granted residencies herself. She said she realized how helpful they can be for any creative work and how everyday life can sometimes interfere. It has been a long-time dream of hers to make a place where women can have a period of rest and refuge from their everyday lives a reality. With St. Nell’s she hopes to provide a welcoming place that serves as a focus for creative activity and a service to the town itself, in providing a residence and future programming.

Knowing that starting an organization like this required funding, she took to the internet, starting a kickstarter that grew to be very successful. The purpose of the kickstarter was to secure a down payment and initial expenses for the house. From there, the costs of running the organization will the funded through application fees, programming, and selling art and merchandise.

Coming Summer of 2021, St. Nell’s Humor Writing Residency for Ladies will begin taking applications for their Fall 2021 session. St. Nell’s is named after a comedic actress named Nell Gwyn, who was also a mistress of King Charles II in Restoration England. Gwyn was a bawdy lady who lived a bold and courageous life and was one of the first actresses on the English stage, making her the perfect icon for St. Nell’s.

Flake chose Williamsport as the birthplace of St. Nell’s after many visits in the Summer of 2020 led to her and her family falling in love with the town. The beautiful scenery, abundance of parks and restaurants and there being many things to do were a few reasons why Williamsport was an optimal choice. When a teaching gig fell through, Flake’s daughter’s summer camp was cancelled and everything upstate became incredibly expensive, they decided they needed to get away from the city. An ad led them to booking a room at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport and after that, Flake decided Williamsport would be St. Nell’s home.

St. Nell’s will have room for three people at a time, changing residents from month to month. Residents can stay anywhere from one week to three weeks, and even do back-to-back weeks for longer projects. Each resident will have their own dedicated space for writing and creating. One family will be able to stay per year, allowing writers who have kids, a partner or relatives to still have their most important people with them. Residents will be offered workshops and readings, classes and standup shows, either in person or via Zoom, and they will have the opportunity to contribute to a digital newsletter. The periods for residency will run in two seasons: Spring and Fall, from March to June and September to November. For updates and information on how to apply, you can visit St. Nell’s website at www.stnells.com for more details.

Flake was largely driven to make St. Nell’s a reality this year due to an intense case of cabin fever because of the pandemic. During these uncertain times, she said she hopes to provide a positive place to the community. It is her dream that one day she will be able to expand St. Nell’s to include more residency, a learning facility and performance venue. Flake hopes this residency will help all women — cis, trans, and non-binary alike — in giving them necessary time and space for all their creative needs.

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