Spark Theatre Festival

About the Artist

Ron Elisha, Playwright – Anne Being Frank  

Tell me about the play you are working on for Emerging Artists Theatre.  What do you love most about this play?  

It’s a tad immodest to say one ‘loves’ one’s own play, but the aspect I like most is the courage and raw honesty of the position it takes, not only on Anne Frank herself but also on the whole subject of hope and Hollywood endings. Too often, alas, we mistake magical thinking for hope, and that can be extraordinarily destructive.

Can you tell us a little about your artistic process or background? How is that process is being realized in your work on this play?

I trawl as much media as I can, whether it be movies, podcasts, newspapers, magazines, or novels in the hope that, every so often, a tiny gem will reveal itself. In this case, it was an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, which I came across in a Slate bulletin. The article, by Dara Horn, was a brilliantly-written piece on the reasons for the popularity of the Anne Frank story. My ‘process’, if that’s not making it sound far more organized than it is, is that I write constantly. At least 5 hours per day, seven days a week, 52 weeks per year. I never sketch out a plan – I let the characters take me where they will. Sometimes, in the case of real characters, history has already decided that, but it’s amazing how much scope theatre still allows on that count – far more than film, as the character creates the onstage world, rather than the reverse.

What compelled you to write the piece? How are you personally invested in this work?

I, like Dara Horn, felt that people were taking the wrong message from the Anne Frank story – a message that, ultimately, is dangerous. You cannot assume that people are basically good at heart, and you cannot take it for granted that hope will always triumph. These are ideas that have coursed through my work for many years now – ideas that lie at the heart of my own, personal worldview.

Is there anything important or meaningful about this piece to you?

Aside from the above, the play was initially written to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Anne Frank’s death, that anniversary taking place in 2020, just as Covid hit. I think such anniversaries are a powerful reminder of how easy it is for civilized societies to descend into barbarism.

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Ron Elisha (Playwright)  Ron Elisha is a playwright based in Melbourne, Australia. His stage plays include In Duty Bound, Einstein, Two, Pax Americana, The Levine Comedy, Safe House, Esterhaz, Impropriety, Choice, Unknown Soldier, The Goldberg Variations, A Tree, Falling, Ladies & Gentlemen, Wrongful Life, Controlled Crying, Renaissance, The Schelling Point, Carbon Dating, Stainless Steel Rat, produced in London under the title Man In The Middle, The Crown Versus Winslow, Love Field, The Soul Of Wittgenstein, Certificate Of Life, Window, Unsolicited Male, I Really Don’t Care, Falling In Love Again, Donating Felix, and Everyman & His Dog. He has also written a telemovie, Death Duties, two children’s books, Pigtales and Too Big, and hundreds of feature articles and stories in magazines, newspapers, and journals. Ron’s plays have been produced throughout Australia, New Zealand, USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, Israel, and France, and have won a number of awards, including four Australian Writers’ Guild Awards, the Mitch Matthews Award (2006), and the Houston International Film Festival Award for Best Screenplay. He has also been shortlisted for many awards over the years, including the Carlo Annoni International Playwriting Award (2021 finalist), the Woodward International Playwriting Award (2020 finalist), the Patrick White Award (twice, most recently in 2019), the Screencraft Stage Play Contest (2019 semi-finalist), the Noosa Arts One Act Play Competition (2020), the Griffin Award (five times), The Victorian Green Room Awards (twice), the Australian Writers’ Guild (four times) and various state Premiers’ Awards.