Interview of Interest: Stefanie Preissner

Stefanie Preissner is the writer of RTÉ2’s new hit series, Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope. Discussing what it’s like to work for your passion, and how the recession shaped the show, Stefanie gives Rachel D’Arcy an insight into her writing process.

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By Rachel D’Arcy

“There’s a lot of representation of young females, but I thought to myself, where’s the representation for Irish girls?” Stefanie Preissner, creator of RTÉ 2’s breakout hit show Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope asks.

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(Source: Stefanie Preissner)

Born and raised in Cork before moving to the mean streets of Dublin town, playwright Stefanie has toured Ireland and beyond with her hit plays ‘Our Father’ and ‘Solpadeine is My Boyfriend’. She’s also been nominated for several awards as an actor, having studied at the Gaiety School of Acting – not bad for a 28 year old, right? ‘Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope’ is her first television series, following Aisling and Danielle as they try to, well, cope, with life in college and work.

“I write about what I see, and what I see is a lot of people experiencing that same thing. There’s a lot of young people, particularly young girls, wondering ‘who am I?’, like the girls in the show,” Preissner explains, citing her inspiration for the series, as her tone, very appropriately, gets straight to the point.

“These last few years, women are accepting their power, but that hasn’t really been shown in Ireland – that’s what Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope aims to do.”

The show follows fund manager Aisling and graphic design student Danielle, the two ends of the ‘millennial’ spectrum. One works for the weekend, the other for her passion.

“Danielle is similar to me – I studied acting, something I love. I feel like a lot of young people, especially during the recession, had to grow up very fast – get proper jobs like Aisling has in the show,” Preissner explains, saying that their nights spent at Coppers are their way of finding an escape – something many college students and young adults can relate to.

A refreshing addition to RTÉ’s slightly more liberal little sister, RTÉ 2, Preissner isn’t afraid to visit topics that even fifteen years ago would have been taboo on Irish television. Alcoholism, adultery, and a night in Coppers – things that are common in the life of

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Danielle and Aisling from Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope (Source: Karl Hussey / RTÉ Press Centre)

21st Century Ireland, but are only making their way onto our TV screens now.

In one scene, weekend warrior Aisling seeks out the morning after pill after a one night stand with a lad she meets in Coppers – “It’s not like I’m sexually active, I don’t have a fella,” she says in a thick Cork accent – something particularly poignant with discussion of the Eighth Amendment rife. Danielle also deals with the prospect of moving abroad for her career, an issue many young Irish people have had to deal with.

“There’s no bullshit to this show: it’s why I think a lot of people are relating to it [on social media],” Preissner says, a lilt to her voice, displaying the pride she has in the six-part series.

“One girl asked me on Twitter if I was following her around with a camera. I didn’t set out to make [the show] relatable, but if people can identify with it, I must be doing something right.”

Can’t Cope Won’t Cope is currently airing on RTÉ 2 on Mondays at 10pm, and is available to stream on the RTÉ player.

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