DEAR DIARY, BYE (Ellie Brown): Schoolyard scraps and crushes galore

Arlen Hancock in Ellie Brown's DEAR DIARY, BYE. Photo: Ellie Brown.

Arlen Hancock in Ellie Brown’s DEAR DIARY, BYE. Photo: Ellie Brown.

What’s private is no longer private. I mean, you knew that. Google knows what time you woke up, what you ate for breakfast, and whether it was locally sourced and organic. We’re used to it.

There’s something fascinating, too, about getting a look into someone else’s private life. Reality TV, celebrity gossip and tabloids feed on the basic desire to be shown what real life may be like, as opposed to the obvious invention of television and movies.

What these outlets don’t give us is an idea of what private life is like for regular people who don’t sell out their privacy intentionally; baristas, office managers, construction workers, and 4th-graders from Watertown, MA.

And maybe that’s what makes Ellie Brown’s DEAR DIARY, BYE such a fascinating show. The play, directed by Seth Reichgott, presents her 1984 diary. Brown wasn’t so different from any other ten year old—she liked boys, she got sick of her parents, she was teased, and she liked more boys. There’s a pleasure in this kind of uncensored presentation, a la Nature Theater of Oklahoma.

The twist Brown puts to her diary is that it’s presented onstage by a man. All of the adolescent fickleness, charm, angst, and naiveté are channelled through actor Arlen Hancock, who speaks the lines as if they were his own—not his childhood thoughts, or someone else’s anxieties, but a fully grown man’s experiences.

Arlen Hancock in Ellie Brown's DEAR DIARY, BYE. Photo: Ellie Brown.

Arlen Hancock in Ellie Brown’s DEAR DIARY, BYE. Photo: Ellie Brown.

Through this unexpected lens, says Brown, we explore the concepts of “divorced parents who are moving on to new lives, a bratty little brother, school yard scrapping, misunderstanding most things about adult sexuality, a quickly rotating roster of crushes and the ever presence and anxiety about friendships.”

Brown, no longer ten years old, is a perfect profile of how the arts work in Philly. A photographer who’s been involved in visual arts professionally since 1997, she’s also a licensed public adjustor. DEAR DIARY, BYE, her first foray into performance, is a similarly characteristic success story, having moved from coffeehouse reading at last year’s SoLow Fest to this main stage production through a successful IndieGoGo campaign.

For a taste of what’s to come, check out the below video. [Plays and Players Theater, 1714 Delancey] April 4-13, 2014. dear-diary-bye.ticketleap.com.

Boys Monologue- Dear Diary, Bye. from Ellie Brown on Vimeo.

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About the author

Julius Ferraro

Julius Ferraro is a journalist, playwright, performer, and project manager in Philadelphia. He is co-founder of Curate This and editor-in-chief of thINKingDANCE. His recent plays include Parrot Talk, Micromania, and The Death and Painful Dismemberment of Paul W. Auster.