Fine arts acting student produces staged reading of her own full-length play

Brent Rice
July 17, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Ellie Milewski, a junior in Penn State’s bachelor of fine arts acting program, made waves this past February when she, in collaboration with the Penn State School of Theatre, produced a staged reading of her first full-length play. The play, titled "27," tells the story of an unlikely friendship between an elderly man dying of Alzheimer’s and a 10-year-old girl struggling with dyslexia. 

Growing up in Springfield, Virginia, Milewski quickly took interest in the arts, beginning acting and singing by the third grade while also taking up figure skating. By the time she had reached middle school, time constraints meant that Milewski had to choose which of these paths she would like to pursue. With the help of some influential mentors in her life, she decided to continue developing her talent in theatre. 

When making choices about her continuing education, Milewski admitted that Penn State had always been on her college radar, given that her father and brother are both alumni. Yet, it was the excitement of being a part of the building of a new bachelor of fine arts program at a prestigious university and the personal attentiveness and kindness of the faculty during her audition, which solidified that Penn State was where she wanted to study. 

When she first came to the University, Milewski was impressed with the amount of one-on-one personal attention she received from the faculty, which she credits with easing her transition into college and away from home and helping her to hone her theatre skills. 

She said that her inspiration for "27" came from her personal experiences with loved ones with dementia, as well as a one-act play she wrote in high school featuring monologues of hospital patients. Milewski said, “I was immediately intrigued by the idea of two people at opposite stages of life and the unique relationship that could exist between them.”

This spring, it was announced that her work on "27" had earned her the 2018 Golumbic Scholarship in performance achievement, one of the most significant awards in the College of Arts and Architecture. Speaking about the scholarship, which recognizes students whose records have demonstrated their potential for significant contribution to the arts and humanities, Milewski explained that she was flattered to even be nominated for the award.

“Winning the award meant that I had realized my desire for the work I am doing to leave a lasting, positive impact on the audience," she said.

Actor, producer and Penn State professor Erik Raymond Johnson spoke high praise about Milewski's play, stating, “Ellie Milewski’s play '27' is truly special … Ellie is a talented, creative and intelligent young artist and playwright who will affect audiences with her gifts throughout the tenure of her career. I am excited to see what she does next.”

As for the future, Milewski is currently in the process of making edits to "27" using the feedback she received from her staged reading and hopes to submit it to playwriting competitions in the coming months. Later down the road, she would love to see "27" as a full production. While acting remains her passion, this experience has broadened her perspective on the theatre industry and expanded her career possibilities.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Milewski is already working on her next play.

Last Updated July 17, 2018