LUDMILLA BOLLOW - Playwright & Novelist
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The Wisconsin Regional Writer

Volume 56, Number 3 Fall 2007

Spotlight on WRWA Member Ludmilla Bollow

Ludmilla Bollow is an award winning actress, prize winning playwright and published novelist. She emphasizes, "I am a Wisconsin writer, a Woman writer, and a World writer", as much of her work has been produced worldwide-while living in Wisconsin.

Ludmilla's vivid imagination drew her to writing and acting at an early age, but it wasn't till after 30 that she wrote her first play, after taking a playwriting class at the Rhinelander School of the Arts (RSA). Prof. Robert Gard told the students, "Anyone can write a play." She tried, marveled at the process, and hasn't stopped since. She's written 12 full-length and 40 shorter plays. Advancing from student, she taught playwriting at RSA for several years, also worked with Dale Wasserman (Wisconsin-born author of Man of La Mancha) at the Professional Playwrights Lab there. She's taught playwriting at Redbird Studio in Milwaukee and at various workshops and conferences.

Broadway Plays (NY) has published two books of her plays; One Acts & Monologues for Women (3rd Edition) and The Church of the Holy Ghost, which was optioned by Trimark Movies, with Scott Derrickson as director, till he left for another studio (later directing The Exorcism of Emily Rose). Other publications include plays and scenes in 12 leading play anthologies, resulting in various play requests, some from foreign countries, even the South Pole.

Many of her scripts have Wisconsin backgrounds. Her most produced play, In the Rest Room At Rosenblooms-over 170 productions in the U.S. and Canada, from dinner theatres to community theatres. Based on the Milwaukee Journal front page story about elderly ladies who met in the Gimbel's rest room, it garnered prizes and performances, and was later developed for a Broadway/off Broadway production, producer financed. Another play, The Beach Club, about a group of eclectic people who meet daily at the Bradford Beach in Milwaukee, was originally published in "The Literary Half Yearly of India" and has had numerous productions and awards. Among them; The National Chenghi University in Taipei Taiwan, Studio Theatre (NY), Sam French Festival (NY), and in 2006, in Victoria, Australia.

Choke Cherry Corners-Tavern and Dance Hall, depicting a Wisconsin family during the Depression who are forced to live in a closed-down tavern and dance hall-has won numerous prizes, had staged readings, the most recent, at The Appalachian Repertory Theatre in North Carolina. Productions were scheduled, but fell through, so she's still waiting for that premiere production-maybe in Wisconsin?

Dr. Zastro's Sanitarium-for the Ailments of Women had its beginnings at RSA, where Ludmilla purchased an old medical book at RSA's used book sale. The contents were so fascinating, a play was written from it. First staging was at Secret Rose Theatre, North Hollywood, CA, then a full production at Kings College in Nova Scotia-then nothing. So she decided to use the plot, characters and vast research, and turn it into a novel. Published by Behler in 2004, Publishers' Weekly termed it "…a spirited first novel, entertaining, intriguing. … Bollow shows promise.'She's hoping Johnny Depp will play the movie role.'”

"Playwrights need hope; all writers do," she offered.

Bollow's one-woman monologue, The Woman with 27 Children, is another widely produced play. It was performed in Hong Kong (in Chinese). When produced in Sao Paulo, Brazil, (in Portuguese), the actress was so enthralled with the script she flew to Milwaukee to meet the author. The script was also produced in South Africa in Afrikaans, and later made into a short art film and shown at a movie festival in Manchester, England. Another monologue, Belle of the Bijou, was performed in Athens, Greece, (in Greek) by a leading Greek actress. It also toured the US East Coast with a Screen Actors' Guild actress.

Ludmilla's playwriting awards include: Council for Wisconsin Writers (3 times for Playwriting, which is no long on the Awards list); Wisconsin Regional Writers Association Playwriting, twice (when they still had a Playwriting category); Southeastern Theatre New Play Award, and many others. She was commissioned to write a play for St. Coletta's in Jefferson, WI, for their 100th anniversary, integrating their developmentally disabled students into the cast. She has also written six plays for Milwaukee Combat Theatre where playwright are given a subject, 12 hours to write a new play, which is performed the next evening. Whew! Many of these plays have won contests elsewhere.

Residencies and Fellowships include; Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference; chosen for the Mt. Sequoyah New Play Retreat; the New Harmony Project 2005, and Scriptworks 2007. All have been inspirational for Ludmilla who finds meeting with other authors a godsend for a lone writer, plus major improvements for the selected works and invaluable critiques. Each gathering has been memorable.

She is a former editor of Theater USA, (a national theatre magazine). Her short stories, poetry, and articles have been printed in U.S., England, India, and teen age anthology books. Way back, when the Milwaukee Journal still had the Green Sheet, many of her feature stories appeared. She was also a reporter for the North Shore Herald.

All this, plus raising three wonderful children. She and husband Bill, both retired, live in Glendale, WI, in a house filled with theatre posters and miniature lit theatres.

Yes, she's still writing! "With the magic of the computer, I can research from my chair and meet other writers online. Still, it's the personal contact I value. I'm a people person-and my plays are character-driven. I capture those lost souls no one else writes about."

What's she working on now? "A narrative memoir entitled: Mama's Christmas Club-where the angst of childhood meets the joys of Christmas. Set in the Great Depression, it illuminates the year 1935, as the voice of a shy young girl chronicles life in a small Wisconsin town with endearing candor." Now, all she has to do is find a publisher. "It's a journey many of us have taken. But when it's successful, the joys of writing are fulfilled, knowing your work, your words, will reach others."

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