Sunday, August 14, 2016

Spotlight On...Elizabeth Ostler

Name: Elizabeth Ostler

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

Education: BA in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College; MFA in theater directing from Brooklyn College

Favorite Credits: The Yellow Wallpaper at St. Ann’s Warehouse Puppet Lab (director/adaptor/designer); The Triangle Factory Fire Project at Brooklyn College (director); Gorey at Life Jacket Theater Company (puppet designer); Jasper in Deadland at Prospect Theater Company (puppet designer)

Why theater?: I want to foster connection through storytelling. At its best, theater allows for a metaphysical communion between the theater event and audience like no other art form. Grotowski described that communion as, “crossing the distance between you and me.” I love that. Theater allows me to do that.

Tell us about Memoriam: Memoriam is an answer to Euripides’ ALCESTIS. It explores the aftermath of getting the thing you want when you have experienced the horror of losing someone you love - getting them back. What are the consequences? What if they’re back but their memories aren’t? Do are memories define us and our relationships?

What inspired you to direct Memoriam?: The playwright, Stephen Kaliski and I were in grad school together when he started working on Memoriam. I participated in the early devising of the script as an ensemble member. It’s a rewarding experience to direct a play that I was involved in from the very beginning. The given circumstances of the play mirror where I’m at personally. I lost my grandmother last month and my sister in April. I’m very much in grief. Working on this play with the generous ensemble, designers and playwright is giving me a place to work through some of my grief through creativity. This has been a gift during a very difficult time.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theater that addresses social issues. I’m an advocate and theater is a primary medium that I use to bring awareness to women’s issues, domestic violence, and human trafficking. I also love a great family drama. Long Days… and August: Osage County are some of my favorite plays.  I’m an avid reader and am often inspired by what I’m reading. I also find some of my greatest inspiration comes from actively living my life and pursuing interests other than theater. Specific artists - the poet David Whyte, painter Joan Mitchell, and David Cromer’s production of Our Town. Whenever I start doubting being a theater artist, I read a bit of And Then, You Act by Anne Bogart - works everytime.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: This was a hard one. Steve Kazee

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Annie Baker’s John at Signature Theater

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Claire Danes. "It’s All Just an Experiment"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: A Chorus Line before it transferred to Broadway.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Binge watching TV. I love TV. Currently, it’s watching Bachelorette. Who will JoJo give the final rose to? No spoilers!!

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Hmm...well when I’m not working in theater I’m a creativity coach and I teach writing. If I was doing something completely different...maybe a photographer, or work in social justice, or an entrepreneur...

What’s up next?: I’m working on putting together a workshop to help actors be more vulnerable. I’m also writing a play.

For more on Elizabeth, visit and