Eileen Boggess says her novel, "Mia the Melodramatic," is a circle of life. And this weekend, that novel will come to life on stage at Davenport Junior Theatre, where Ms. Boggess got her start.|
"When I grew up," Ms. Boggess said, "I would look at all the pictures of former shows and imagine seeing my picture on the wall someday as an actress for one of the plays.
"I never imagined I would see other actors' pictures on the wall in a play that I wrote."
Ms. Boggess is a Quad-Cities native who attended Garfield Elementary and Sudlow Junior High in Davenport and graduated from Assumption High in 1986. She left Junior Theatre in 1985.
After high school, she earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in middle-level education. She moved to Des Moines in 1995. Ms. Boggess now lives with her husband and two teenage children in Urbandale, Iowa, where she is coordinator of the Urbandale Food Pantry.
The Davenport Junior Theatre production of "Mia" will be the show's world premiere.
"I was completely shocked when Daniel Sheridan contacted me last year about the possibility of turning my novel into a play," Ms. Boggess said. "It had never occurred to me it could be a play before this conversation." Thrilled by the opportunity, she couldn't wait to get started transforming her book into a play.
Ms. Boggess recently watched 15 minutes of rehearsal and said she was amazed by the talent of the young actors. "They are much more talented than I was at their age," she said.
"When I was in the eighth grade, a friend said she was signing up for a class at the Davenport Junior Theatre, so I decided to join her," she said. She became involved in many aspects of Junior Theatre and would continue for many years.
Ms Boggess was immediately hooked on acting. Once, in high school, she nervously asked for a job on the stage crew, and she was accepted, she said. She spent her freshman through junior years acting in plays, working on the stage crew and directing children's plays. It was a "wonderful job," she said.
"Mia" is about a girl named Mia Fullerton who is forced to spend her summer as a clown, performing kids' songs among other activities out of her comfort zone. But during the course of the summer, she learns she enjoys being on stage, much as Ms. Boggess did.
Ms. Boggess said the most difficult part of turning the book into a play was condensing the story. She also has updated the story a bit. For instance, the book was published in 2007, when emailing was the most common form of communication for teenagers. She changed it to texting in the script.
Ms. Boggess said her favorite thing about writing is character development. To her, they are very real people.
"When I was a full-time writer, my husband would come home at the end of the day. I would say, 'Guess what Mia did today.' He would have to remind me that my characters were not real people," Ms. Boggess said.
Overall, Ms. Boggess said, she has one simple goal with her show. "If I can make an audience of kids laugh for an hour, I have done my job."
For more information on Ms. Boggess and her books, visit her website, eileenboggess.com.
Sara Clifton, of Coal Valley, attends St. Ambrose University, Davenport.
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