L.A. native, writer, artist and serial re-inventor of herself Esther Pearlman has created something new again, a solo show. Esther’s art has been shown in galleries all over the city and she has written an incredible 11 books, so a play was perhaps a natural progression for her artistic soul. I’m always fascinated by what moves people to create a play about one’s own life. I see it as such a uniquely brave and authentic thing. I know art is always about one’s self really, but we can hide that within a painting, or a poem, or a novel or a song. A play is a much bolder announcement. Kind of a “here I am” moment.
I wondered what drove Esther to make this at this moment in her life and with the world around us as it is. So I asked her!
Hello Esther, congratulations on this latest chapter in your life. As an author, how different was writing a play from a book?
Writing a play was very different. The format is different, for one thing, and you’re working mainly with dialog. You’re also working with other people, like the actress and the technical folks. I thought playwriting would be easier, but I think books are easier.
My writing coach/editor, Robin Quinn, is remarkable. She has been with me for 10 of my books which include my art. We differ sometimes about what is important. And yet it is fun sparing with her. After a while, we come to an agreement.
Why now? What was the reason that at this time in your life you wanted to share this story?
A friend said, “Nobody reads books anymore.” So that is why I thought I would write a play. In college, I wrote a play and got an A, so I thought I would try it again. I have been pleasantly surprised to hear positive remarks. It is reassuring that I am on the right track.
How does your family feel about this latest ‘re-invention’?
My daughter Jennifer is really impressed that I wrote the play, and she was very touched when I read it as part of Jessica Lynn Johnson’s Reveal series last November, produced by her Soaring Solo Studios. Jennifer told me that she had heard some of the stories, but there were other things she never knew I had gone through.
Is there anything you would add to your play, do differently, or leave out?
Laurie Wardell, the actress who plays me, is in her late forties. She’s from a younger generation. When she adjusted some lines, we had to be careful not to add something that was too young for me.
Many solo playwrights perform themselves. Why did you cast an actress to play you?
We found the actress, Laurie Wardell, on Back Stage’s website. In the rehearsals, we see how much she can add more dimension to the play. The story really comes alive through her. I’m not an actress. Still, friends and family were telling me I should play the part
How has this process changed you?
I learned the ends and outs of what it takes to put on a play. How much is involved. Following through with all that is involved: writing, casting, cameras, staging, lighting, advertising, etc. It is such a big undertaking. We’re excited that the March 9th performance will be taped and made available on demand on the WhiteFire Theatre website online.
It is really exciting to think that it could be an important event for an audience. This play will be fun and worthwhile. Most importantly it will make you laugh. Laughter is healthy.
Do you have any advice for burgeoning writers or playwrights?
To me, writing is freedom. It’s cathartic, getting something off your chest. Remembering can be made into something useful for you and your audience. Along the way, you’re considering what to leave in and what to take out. No one is there during part of the process. I say let your conscience be your guide on what to write. And maybe sometimes go unconscious and let the writing flow.
You can see Esther’s play “Re-inventing Me” performed by Laurie Wardell on March 9 at 8pm at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks as part of their Solofest. The second largest in the country!
Get your tickets here: https://whitefire.stagey.net/projects/9432
Also check out Esther’s book on her Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Looking-at-Bright-Side-Mostly/dp/1664149465/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1THJK6SRFEEI0&keywords=Looking+at+the+Bright+Side+Mostly&qid=1663433843&s=books&sprefix=looking+at+the+bright+side+mostlystripbooks124&sr=1-1