S2 EP 9 – Witness to the Joy of Strangers

Welcome to this week’s True Fiction Project Podcast. Today we are joined by award-winning playwright and actor, Ellen McLaughlin. Ellen joins me to discuss her many pieces of work throughout her career and the project she just completed with the Play On Podcasts series. She describes the incredible experiences of being around someone while they encounter extraordinary joy and the impact of that on individuals. Ellen talks about the connection she believes all artists should have to their work. At the end of the episode, we get the pleasure of listening to Ellen’s short story titled Witness to the Joy of Strangers.


[1:11] Introducing Ellen McLaughlin and her work with Play On Podcasts.

[6:52] What about the Shakespeare play Ellen worked on that resonated with her?

[13:05] When Ellen is creating her art, is she always thinking about a real-life moment or is it happenstance? 

[17:45] Ellen gives us an insight into her short story. 

[22:07] Short Story Witness to the Joy of Strangers by Ellen McLaughlin


People need to recognize that they are privileged to be a bystander and to witness a revelation that one has when they discover their passion. To take in their joy even without necessarily being a part of it is a memorable experience. 

Someone cannot make something worthwhile unless they have something on the line. If the story means something to them, you can feel the passion in the piece. Without it being worthwhile to them, it risks falling flat. 

A person will work harder and be more involved in a project if they have passion behind it. If there is no passion, choose a different project that will showcase the passion for the work.  

Fiction Credits:
Short story written and read by: Ellen McLaughlin

Ellen McLaughlin’s plays have received numerous national and international productions. They include Days and Nights Within, A Narrow Bed, Infinity’s House, Iphigenia, and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, The Trojan Women, Helen, The Persians, Oedipus, Ajax in Iraq, Kissing the Floor, Septimus and Clarissa, and Penelope. Producers include: the Public Theater, The National Actors’ Theater and New York Theater Workshop in NYC, Actors’ Theater of Louisville, The Actors’ Gang L.A., Classic Stage Co., N.Y., The Intiman Theater, Seattle, Almeida Theater, London, The Mark Taper Forum, L.A., The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Getty Villa, California., and The Guthrie Theater, Minnesota, among other venues.
Grants and awards include Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting, Great American Play Contest, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the NEA, the Writer’s Award from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, the Berilla Kerr Award for playwriting. T.C.G./Fox Residency Grant — for Ajax in Iraq, written for the A.R.T. Institute.
She has taught playwriting at Barnard College since 1995. Other teaching posts include Breadloaf School of English, Yale Drama School, and Princeton University, among others.
Ms. McLaughlin is also an actor. She is most well known for having originated the part of the Angel in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, appearing in every U.S. production from its earliest workshops through its Broadway run.
Ellen McLaughlin Website
Ellen McLaughlin Facebook 

This episode is sponsored by Magic Mind:
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