Theatre Is My Livelihood
I sometimes have trouble throwing things away. I still have this ratty (but exceedingly comfortable) t-shirt that I picked up in high school. The lettering on the front reads, “If you love me, tell me a story.” I like the simplicity of it. It sounds like the truth.
While I identify professionally as a playwright, I have tumbled through a few art forms on my way here. I was deeply serious about music (but not so deeply talented). Music is a beautiful foundation for any rigorous discipline. There are no shortcuts. It requires daily commitment and offers opportunities to be part of something greater than oneself. Music teaches listening. It is excellent training for writing.
I studied creative nonfiction in undergraduate school, which was excellent training for arts administration. I studied that at an art school– while learning about voice. In visual art, it is easy to see the individual. Even when the still life is the same for everyone, the interpretation and line is unique to each artist.
It is a story and a present; it is an expression of love.
Working in arts administration has taught me to appreciate the entire collective. Making arts accessible to everyone is a group project. I am proud to live in a state that supports the arts and am exceedingly grateful for the Nebraska Arts Council and Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The cultural landscape of a state requires a chorus of unique voices working together.
I love that theatre makes use of all these skills. I can have music, language, and art together. I can keep everything and get a little bit extra. There is a generosity in our theatre community that continues to astound me. When we make a new play, directors, actors, designers and writers collaborate. Ultimately, the play is a series of gifts, much like our cultural endowment. The playwright gives the play to a director, the director gives it to the actors and designers, everyone works together to give the play to an audience. It is a story and a present; it is an expression of love. For me, it is an art form that wears well.
Ellen Struve is an Omaha-based, Omaha-raised playwright. Her TAG and OEA award-winning play, Recommended Reading for Girls, was part of Omaha Community Playhouse’s 2012-13 season. She is a Great Plains Theatre Conference StageWrite and Mainstage playwright. She is a WhyArts? Resident Artist and Literary Manager at Shelterbelt Theatre. Her plays have been produced in five states. She is a Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Fellow. She has degrees from University of Iowa and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This fall she will be working with Great Plains Theatre Conference and Omaha Community Playhouse to develop a new work.
To read more about Ellen’s projects: