To Shed Light on Eating Disorders, a Versatile Actress Takes the Spotlight


(DGIwire) All actors and actresses crave dramatic roles, but few have had a chance to intervene in the real-life drama affecting their audiences—like the millions of Americans with eating disorders. One who is doing so is Paten Hughes, an American who trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London as well as Washington and Lee University.

Hughes has had quite a versatile career. She became an original member of Kevin Spacey’s Old Vic New Voices Network, performing in both London and New York in a variety of stage performances including Chekhov’s Three Sisters directed by Eve Best. She recently completed her first lead role in a feature film, Coach of the Year, and mentors teenage girls through Women’s Expressive Theater’s Risk Takers Film Series—a media literacy and leadership program that empowers teenage girls to look at the media with a critical eye.

For the past five years, Hughes has also been touring the U.S. performing in a 30-minute, one-woman show titled The Thin Line. Created by Addverb Productions in 1998, the play uses live theater to break the silence on eating disorders, reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, and pave the way to prepare young adults for the intense pressure of high school, college and beyond.

In The Thin Line, Ms. Hughes portrays four characters, all with a distinct voice: Ellen, a girl struggling with an eating disorder; Ellen’s negative inner voice; Cindy, a friend; and Ellen’s mother. As the play unfolds, Ellen’s illness progresses and the complications and stakes get higher. The play illustrates the pain of Ellen’s struggle and her loved ones’ resolve to understand and to help.

The Thin Line has been performed for colleges and conference across the globe. The play can be performed in virtually any setting. In cooperation with the booking organization, audience members have a chance immediately following each performance to interact with local eating disorder specialists who can provide support. College counseling and health centers have used the program to make their services accessible and approachable to students.

“Performing a one-person show is never easy yet working in The Thin Line has been both gratifying and emotionally challenging. Eating disorders are serious and very emotional issues. The four characters in the show have been tremendously important for me as an actress,” says Ms. Hughes. “More so, I am gratified to think I could be encouraging a wide range of audience members to seek the counseling they need to restore their health.”

For more information about Paten Hughes and the remaining limited performances of The Thin Line, visit and