‘Because of Beth’ by Elana Gartner

This week we meet internationally produced and award-winning playwright Elana Gartner. The first time we met Elana in New York we were struck by her urgency to produce excellence and support, celebrate and promote the work of fellow playwrights and artists. She creates, to make the world better. And we couldn’t be prouder to have her play ‘Because of Beth’ as this weeks Play of the Week. 

Elana’s  play Because of Beth  has been produced in  Howick Little Theatre; The Workshop Theater, by producer Small Pond Entertainment. The play has also won  third prize in the 2007-2008 Pen and Brush Playwriting contest and was a finalist for the Open Book 2007 Playwriting Competition. Two monologues from plays Daughter and Because of Beth are published in “Audition Monologues for Young Women.’

As well as being an award-winning playwright, Elana  helped to edit a second edition of “You Can Write A Play!” by Milton E. Polsky. She is a current board member for the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) and a founding co-chair of the ICWP 50/50 Applause Awards, recognising those theaters that produce women playwrights in, at least, 50% of a given season. She is a graduate of Oberlin College with a degree in Creative Writing and a member of the Dramatists Guild.

WHAT IS THE PLAY ABOUT?

Teenage Penny’s long-missing father doesn’t recognize her at her mother’s funeral, she risks her relationship with her irresponsible older sister to learn about him and possibly overturn the guardianship her mother chose. But, in her haste, Penny discovers how post-death experiences for the living can be treacherous when secrets are fresh, powerful and dangerous.

 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THE PLAY?

The play was inspired by the real-life events surrounding the death of a friend’s mother. While the play departs from the reality, there are plenty of elements that were taken from the real life situation.

 

WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

Once an idea hits me, I have to write many terrible scenes and drafts before I’m even sure that there is an idea I want to see through to the end and find out what happens. I am blessed to have two playwriting groups that I work with, one that I founded EMG Playwriting Workshop and another that I joined, Manhattan Oracles. Each provides me with incredibly valuable and different insight and feedback about the work that I bring in. When I finally commit to a set of characters to write their story to the end, the drafts get better.

 

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR NEW WRITERS?

Read a lot of other people’s work. See a lot of shows. But, more importantly, know what rings true for you. Know your style, your characters, your voice.

 

WHO ARE YOUR LITERARY INFLUENCES?

Christopher Isherwood, Anna Deveare Smith, Sapphire and David Lindsay-Abaire.

 

WHY DO YOU THINK THEATRE IS IMPORTANT?

From a playwright’s perspective, theater is important as a method of passing on stories to future generations. It gives voice to things in our society, to things in our minds, troubles that we struggle with that may, actually, be timeless. From an audience’s perspective, theater is important to understand each other and ourselves and the evolution of our technologies, our worlds, and our relationships. We attend theater to be entertained, to learn, to laugh and cry, to be a part of someone else’s world. Theater is a live place where the emotions are raw and unafraid.

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