Actors Theatre founder strives for the unusual


Patricia Elmore Costa, founder and artistic director of the San Diego Actors Theatre, has seen her share of story ideas come to life. She has directed or appeared in more than 350 productions in San Diego County over the past 12 years.

Artistic directors are always challenged to create new and innovative shows. Costa has done this with her newest work - Dive in Theatre - where the show “Fiancee?” will be performed in Del Mar on Sept. 18 and 19.

“Fiancee?” features three characters - Meryl, the mermaid who wants a mortal husband; Deek, who wants to get rich; and John, the surfing scientist. The unusual show will be performed in and around a swimming pool. Costa’s idea came while she was at a visual arts program sponsored by the Gaslamp association.

“A friend and I were on the Hotel Solamar rooftop where there’s a pool,” she said. “The manager told us about a pro swimmer who could hold her breath for a long time and how she mesmerized his clientele. That night I went home and began to write the play.”

Costa did research on mermaid folklore and got her show’s theme from a movie.

“I found ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ funny, strange and provocative,” she said. “It’s about a guy with a social disorder who orders his date (a lifelike doll) to be delivered in a box. In our play one of our characters does that but insists his fiancee be a mermaid.”

After scouting the San Diego area, Costa chose the L’Auberge Del Mar as the show’s location. “Their lap pool is the perfect setting,” Costa said. “It’s long, private and quiet. It will be like walking into an outdoor theatre only it’s a pool.”

“Fiancee?” will have a preshow featuring poolside monologues and a synchronized swimming act. Costa thinks the show is great for families, and may set more dates to replay it.

“I hope the show does well,” she said. “Community theater is an opportunity to look at life through a more theatrical and dynamic prism. We learn from theater, see different points of view and often develop empathy and human understanding from what see.”


Sept. 18 and 19

L’Auberge Del Mar Resort & Spa

1540 Camino del Mar, Del Mar

Reserve tickets at