FOR PLAYWRIGHTS - September 2003
The Belle of Milwaukee …
by SANDRA HOSKING
|The Church of the Holy Ghost,
A Garden of Women,
In the Rest Room at Rosenblooms,
One Acts & Monologues for Women
Theatre Conference New Play Award, Wisconsin Council for Writers Playwriting
Tennessee Williams Playwriting Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference
At age 30, Ludmilla Bollow took a playwriting class at the Rhinelander School of the Arts, in Wisconsin. Her professor said that anyone could write a play, so she did.
"I tried writing my first ‘real’ play, and fell in love with the process, and have been doing it ever since," Bollow says.
Now, several of her plays can be obtained through Broadway Play Publishing and Portland, Oregon-based ArtAge Publications, which sells senior theater materials. England’s Stage One Entertainment markets all of her plays. Bollow’s work has been performed across the country as well as in Australia, South Africa, and Brazil.
Bollow credits that first professor, Robert E. Gard, as being her first mentor. Gard, a longtime professor of the arts at the University of Wisconsin, was a Fulbright Scholar, wrote plays, books, articles, etc., and was instrumental in quite a few arts organizations.
"Encouragement is always the best stimulus, which I try to do when I teach playwriting," Bollow says. Tennessee Williams also has influenced her as a "hovering mentor, as I admire his style of writing and [have] acted in numerous [productions] of his plays — those wonderful roles for women."
She finds that writing in the morning is most conducive. The "best time for creativity is while lying down, in a semi-conscious state, thoughts roaming freely and visualization taking place," she says.
What is her marketing strategy?
"Writing is easy, especially with the computer. Marketing is the grind part," Bollow says. "With two published play books, scenes in 11 leading anthologies, I get various requests, and some productions, many in foreign countries."
She adds, "I write a lot of query letters — and it's getting tougher. But without an agent, it's what you have to do."
Bollow is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the International Centre for Women Playwrights.
The International Centre "has been an enormous bonanza for me as a playwright, a woman, and a member of the human community," Bollow says. "The daily interaction is invaluable for a lone playwright. If I have a playwriting problem and post it, I receive numerous informed answers. Your success is their success. I’ve met some members, even had them as house guests. They’re like my special extended family."
James Fletcher, artistic director of Milwaukee-based Bunny Gumbo Theatre Co., can’t say enough good things about Ludmilla Bollow. The group produces Combat Theatre, an evening of plays that are all written, directed, and acted within 24 hours.
"She was the first playwright to take a chance on me and sign up for the project when I started it three and a half years ago," Fletcher says. "‘Lou’ always brought a wealth of experience to the project and a willingness to collaborate with the directors and actors which made every show better. Working with Ludmilla is a delight. She commits to the project at hand and supports it wholeheartedly. I really can't say enough good things about this lady. She is a true supporter of the theatre and artists in every way, and I'm thankful that I have had the chance to work with her."
Shelter Skelter, a short play, will be included in New York-based Triangle Theatre’s Beast Festival Oct. 3-18. The play has been touring with Senior Class Acts, of Wichita, Kansas, at various locations since spring.
Chokecherry Corners-Tavern & Dance Hall is slated to be produced by The Actors Group, of Milwaukee, in January 2004. Bollow has been selected as a playwright-in-residence of that new group, which plans future productions of her works.
The Woman With 27 Children, which was performed in South Africa, was recently filmed and is being shopped around in England and elsewhere. Bollow also is in negotiations with a Brazilian company to stage the play.
List your plays on a Web site such as Heniford (www.heniford.net), which is an online catalog of short, small-cast plays.
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