ONSTAGE Playwrights 2017: Meet Ellen Davis Sullivan

Every year we interview our winning playwrights, and this year is no exception!  Join us over the coming weeks as we post more interviews with playwrights, along with information about each play’s director and cast!

Sometimes a play lands in your reading list that is just so on theme it hurts. Ellen Davis Sullivan’s The Fruit Salad of Shame is probably the messiest play in the bunch this year – just ask her director, Layla Tenney, who’ll be prepping the food that makes it a literal hot mess before every show!  Of course, we’re no strangers to fast clean-ups after a messy piece (just ask anyone who’s been in a Jen Huszcza play, LOL) so I’m actually really excited about sharing Ellen’s play with our audiences!  But first, read our interview with her below.


If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

If I could have a super power I would want to be able to snap my fingers and insert people into the bodies of people who are very different from them so they could understand what it’s like to be someone else.  Of course that’s what I try to do when I write but it would be a lot easier to do it by snapping my fingers.

Describe your writing space…

I write at my desk in my home office surrounded by piles of papers (scripts and short story drafts and one unfinished novel).  Many of the piles are neat, others, not so much.  I top the piles with whatever gives good vibes, like souvenirs of art exhibits, old postcards and theater programs that inspire me to be creative.

What is the title of your play?

The Fruit Salad of Shame

How did this year’s ONSTAGE theme inspire you to write/share this play?

This is the messiest play I’ve ever written and so it seemed to fit the theme perfectly.  It started one evening in my book group when one of the members began to tell us about the politically incorrect fruit in the salad.  Luckily for me, several theaters have been willing to take on a ten-minute play that requires serious clean up after each performance including the Boston Theater Marathon.

What play (by another playwright) have you read a gazillion times, and what about that play keeps you coming back to it?

I’m drawn to David Ives’ Venus in Fur which I saw on Broadway with Nina Arianda who gave an amazing performance.  Because I repeatedly find myself writing about issues of women and power, I’d love to understand how Ives creates the menace and control Vanda gathers and exerts in the play.  Also, I can’t believe it was written by a man.

Do you have any upcoming productions elsewhere that our readers should know about?

The Fruit Salad of Shame is being given a reading as part of Clamour Theatre Company’s Five at Seven at the Urban Bean Coffeehouse in Orange Park, Florida on June 23rd.

Please share a brief synopsis for a full-length of yours that our readers should know about.

One of Those Women is a gender-bent play about women’s reputations and what happens when a daughter worries that her widowed mother’s love affair is dangerous.  The lover is a disbarred lawyer and the daughter has been doing some digging.  What she’s learned has convinced her this individual is no good.  Her mother claims she’s in love, but who with: Billie or Billy?  And will she have the courage to stand up to her daughter and live the life she wants?

And don’t forget to grab your tickets to the 2017 Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festival: Hot Mess running July 6-8 at the First Congregational Church in Prescott, AZ.

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