Miami Living Magazine

Elsa Pataky

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MIAMI LIVING 29 When did you first become interested in the arts? My mother encouraged me to try various artistic endeavors—dancing, painting, photography—but my natural inkling has always been towards writing, although I'm also interested in photography. I began writing scripts on my own when I was in second grade and I also had an amazing high school drama coach, George Bang. What are your preferred mediums of creative expression? I prefer playwriting and journalism. Although I enjoy acting and would like to audition for voice-over work. I wrote my first play when I was a student at Kent State University. My first professional play was produced a few years later, "The Once-Upon- A-Time Princess," at the Philadelphia Theatre Center. During this period I was studying with playwright Ed Shockley at the Walnut Street Theatre. I also studied for a short time with Edward Albee. Tell us about some of your career high points. My short play, "America's Working?" had a reading of an early version at the Brick Playhouse in Philadelphia. Then it was followed up with readings at the First Stage Theatre Co., in Los Angeles, the Florida Playwrights Workshop in Boca Raton, the Boca Raton Theatre Guild, NYC Playwrights, the Boca Playwrights Group, followed by productions at the Lonestar Theatre in Los Angeles. Recently it was chosen to be one of about ten plays produced by Adam and Carrie Simpson at Lynn University, in the program called, "From Boca to Broadway." They produced the show in Boca, and then produced it Off-Broadway. Also, my short comedy, "Research," was produced by the Boca Playwrights Group and last fall was produced again by Paula Sackett's growing company, the Studio Theatre of Wellington (in Florida). One of my career highs was having a script considered as a finalist at the prestigious Actors Theatre of Louisville Human Festival of Short Plays competition a number of years ago. That was remarkable. Any memorable moments? After the production of "Princess" in Philadelphia, a man came up to me, shook my hand, and told me that he was from New York and that my writing matched that of any New York playwright and that I should move to the city. I was very flattered, and at the time had hoped to eventually move to NYC, but I had a change in plans. For a number of years I was ill and couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. It took a long time, and many lost hours of writing, to finally find out that I had multiple sclerosis. My mom said to me, "Everybody has something, so get up and get on with your life." Well, I do the best I can. It always could be worse. Tell us about your recent experience in NYC—It must have been a thrill to have your work performed there. It was a one of those splendid experiences where friends and family come together to see the show, go out for dinner—and a time to get out of my head and enjoy myself. It was cold, 8 degrees, and I've lived in Florida for almost ten years. But even though I've adapted to a warmer climate, I was so happy to be in NYC, it didn't feel cold at all. How did that opportunity come about? I'm a member of the Theatre League of South Florida and in its weekly email update, I noticed a call for scripts at Lynn University. I sent a few scripts and was lucky that the Simpsons liked one of my submissions. They, as well as the students, did a marvelous job. Do you work with kids? I've worked with kids since I was in college, teaching playwriting, creative writing, and acting classes. Locally, I've worked with the Broward Boys & Girls Club, Fantasy Theatre Factory, Ft. Lauderdale Children's Theatre, ICON Artists' Group, the International Talent Modeling Agency, and the Lake Worth Playhouse. What are you working on now? I'm actually working on three full-length plays and a few short plays. I'm also writing and organizing a script where each scene is written by a different playwright. I had a reading of my one-act play, "Roadway to Heaven," at the Dramatists Guild in NYC, and there are a multitude of ten-minute plays just waiting for me to get my hands on. I can't wait! I'm also working on a great American novel…. What are your future goals? It would be great to receive some grants or commissions to help me finish the plays I'm writing, have local productions, then move them to NYC stages. I've had two plays published and would love to have more. What playwright doesn't dream of being nominated for a Tony or a Pulitzer? I know, I'm dreaming, but if one doesn't dream, there's no chance for dreams to come true. How can people contact you? People can email me at: ML ON THE SCENE On With the Show! With Marla E. Schwartz, Journalist and Playwright Interview by Matthew Mayo Journalist and playwright Marla E. Schwartz America's Working? NYC with actors left to right Brooks Alexander, Rosa Arnone and Allison Huntley. Photo by Billy Ranta America's Working? NYC with actors left to right Allison Huntley and Brooks Alexander. Photo by Billy Ranta America's Working? - Marla E. Schwartz at a talkback Playwrights Group. Photo by Mary Ellen Caster

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