The Art of Directing With Artistic Director Beth Thompson

DIBS checks back in with Beth Thompson, Shelterbelt Theatre’s Artistic Director, in Omaha, Nebraska to chat about the art of directing.

DIBS: What is a director's job? 

To assemble the best possible people to tell the story. Whether you are able to pick your own design team or have one assigned to you, the director's job is to make that table a comfortable, exciting and inspiring place to work together. Casting is half the battle; if you are able to cast performers whom you see bring the story to life in auditions and carry that energy forward in the work, then your job will be much easier. This is not always the case but if you can help your actors grow throughout the process then you have done your job. 

DIBS: What do you think it takes to direct? 

A detailed eye of the whole picture. You should have a good idea of what you want the audience to feel when seeing your show. I love collaborating with the design professionals and working together to create what the show will look and sound like. I am a director who prefers to let the team’s creative juices fly and then discuss any issues that come up from there. Dictating what "I want" to designers can stifle their artistic expressions and that is not what theater, or any art form, is about. I also believe that you have to know how to talk to your actors and how to bring the most out of them. Each person responds differently to taking direction, working out a scene and notes so you have to be able to read early on what they need and adapt to each personality. This is tough and can be a lot of work but ultimately, I believe you will get the best work out of them when handled correctly.

DIBS: In your opinion, is the director suppose to adjust to how actors take direction or is it the actors job to adjust how the director gives direction?

That is a phenomenal question! Mostly, because you would get a different answer from each director you ask. 

I can only speak to my approach, which is meeting somewhere in the middle. I expect, and in some cases require, a lot from my actors and am clear from the beginning of the process what those exercises are and how they will be utilized to the benefit of the story later on. Actors require different things from you and I do believe a good director will pick up on those signs and direct accordingly. For example, my last show had 14 actors ranging from ages 14-31 with varied levels of experience. Some of the younger actors called for a more reassuring, confidence inspiring and back to basics approach to their character work while the more veteran actors found their voices through exploration and being encouraged to fly more free and give us some choices to work with. I prefer to collaborate on creating characters with my actors as I have cast them for a reason. Something about their artistic expression through this character intrigued me so why would I want to squash their voice with the performance that might have been in my head for a few months. While I hope to cast someone who shares my take, I am often pulled in by an actor who sees another side that I may not have seen and the idea of melding these together excites and inspires me. Actors are artists, not robots. 

 DIBS: Why were you drawn to directing? 

I fell in love with the idea of telling the entire story. As an actor, I was able to concentrate on my role and how to handle that but directing allowed me the challenge of the entire process from reading a script to opening night. I fell in love with the process of putting a project together from start to finish. 

DIBS: What qualities make a successful director? 

This is a big question! (laughs)

I believe a director is successful if their work speaks to people; this can happen in a variety of ways but if the work is not affecting audiences then what is the point. I also believe that the way they treat their actors, designers, and crew is important as theater is not made in a vacuum and while one can tell stories by themselves, it generally is not as electric to watch. Collaboration is the word that keeps coming back to me as it truly takes a village and if designers or actors don't want to work with you then you are sunk. Too many people confuse directing with dictating and thus the work suffers.

DIBS: How important is communication in a theater?

Communication is EVERYTHING in theater. The point of any art form, that is shared with the public, is to communicate something otherwise that artist would just stuff their art in a closet somewhere and let it rot. I believe it is an artist’s responsibility to keep the dialogue of what is happening in society alive and to use their voice to share that message. We also have the unique ability, in theater, to encourage empathy as our audiences “take a ride in others’ shoes” for a few hours. If you can relay a message while they are in your seats, whether they agree or not, they will most likely discuss and that is the greatest thing art can do. 

DIBS: What is a misconception people make about directors or directing? 

That the director knows it all, and from the very beginning. Preparation is key but I think that it is valuable to continue to discover things about the characters or story via your actors. Allow them to make choices and to show you the aspects that you didn't see before. I always say at the first read through that "right now, I know these characters better than you do but by the end of this process you will know them better than anyone" and that is exactly how it should be. I require my actors to make up their own character bios, whether we are working on a new script or an established one, as I find that this gives depth to what they are exploring and ultimately deciding. 

Also, the designers will pick up on things you may have missed as they are analyzing the script in a different way, so never disregard what they see or hear just because you didn't think of it. 

———

Beth Thompson is a director, actor and has been the Artistic Director of the Shelterbelt Theater in Omaha, Nebraska since 2013. She graduated with a BA in Theater, with a focus in acting and directing, from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2012. Favorite directing credits include Neighbors, Lovers and All the Others, Revelation, The Singularity, In The Jungle You Must Wait, The Other Sewing Circle, Abby In The Summer and Psycho Ex-Girlfriend for the Shelterbelt as well as Tigers Be Still and A Bright New Boise for the Omaha Community Playhouse’s 21& Over reading series. Favorite roles include Nan Carter in Exit, Pursued by a Bear (OCP's 21 & Over), Dale Prist in 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (Shelterbelt), Mom/Ms. Speigel in Dark Play or Stories for Boys (UNO), and Mrs. Hermannson in Eric Hermannson's Soul (Lone Tree Theater Project) which toured to both the Kansas City and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals in 2011.

Beth, and her work, has been nominated for both Theater Arts Guild and Omaha Entertainment and Arts awards. She is proud to head the “Before the Boards” reading series, at the Shelterbelt, which presents staged readings of local plays to assist in their development. Her love of storytelling, collaboration and development of new work keep her striving to improve with each new project and learn a little more about herself and the world around her in the process.

Celebrating with Shrooms

On the one-year anniversary of the inception of DIBS, creators Cristina and Larissa ventured deep into the forest … at night … with no firewood and survived (due to the kindness of a friend, of course - Thanks Alicia)! They took a daytime hike near Raymondskill Falls in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, where they rap about life, love, the earth, and human nature.

The gems they stumbled upon in the past year are well represented by the fungus Cristina captured growing in the late summer undergrowth. Props to Sarah Prentice who provided insight into the magical mycological finds and helped with ID-ing them.

The year ahead sure has more mystery in store.

Enjoy!

Cortinarius sp.

Cortinarius sp.

Ramaria or other Coral Genus

Ramaria or other Coral Genus

Cantharellus sp.

Cantharellus sp.

Marasmius sp.

Marasmius sp.

Lycoperdon sp.

Lycoperdon sp.

Entoloma sp.

Entoloma sp.

Russula sp.

Russula sp.

Dingmans Campgrounds-Mildford,PA Sept. 2018-2949.jpg
Laccaria sp.

Laccaria sp.

Hypomyces chrysospermus?

Hypomyces chrysospermus?

 
Laetiporus sp. AKA “Chicken of the Woods”

Laetiporus sp. AKA “Chicken of the Woods”

Amanita sp.

Amanita sp.

Calvatia sp.

Calvatia sp.

Trametes sp.

Trametes sp.

 
Dingmans Campgrounds-Mildford,PA Sept. 2018-2930.jpg

Mushroom Finds by Larissa Nemeth and Cristina Byrne | Photographs by Cristina Byrne | Help Identifying: Sarah Prentice

Matt Jacobs, Marine and Actor

Matt Jacobs is a Active Reservist Armorer for the United State Marine Corps who has a passion for acting. DIBS talks to Matt about when it started, what happened along the way, and what has he learned.

DIBS: From my understanding, you want to be an actor? How far back does this passion go?

MATT: My passion for acting goes all the way back to my childhood days. I’ve always loved movies and did some high school plays. I’ve always imagined being in movies and becoming “BIG”, being able to have an impact and being role model to people around the world. 

DIBS: Why did you do Plan B and not Plan A?

MATT: I was choosing a path for film in college when I was going for a film degree at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

While I was there, I interned as a Camera’s Assistant on a 50 Cent music video, Philadelphia Flyers Commercial, and a USA Network Commercial. While I was on set of the USA Network Commercial, I ate lunch with Jeff Goldblum and Matt Bomer. We talked about their acting careers and it turned into talking about the military.

DIBS: How did that conversation go with you, Jeff Goldblum and Matt Bomer?

MATT: The conversation started with just wanting to know how they started in the acting business and where they got their foot in the door. From there, it turned into them saying that they wished they had joined the military to help give them a way to serve their country and they advised me to do the same. It would transform in how I see the world, help me become a better man and have a better respect towards authority.

It was a unique experience and an ironic situation. Never had any intentions or desire to every join the military but one day, after eating out with a Marine recruiter, God changed my mind and course and I decided to join the Marines then. 

DIBS: What sort of acting debuts have you made so far?

MATT: I have debuted in the new upcoming M Night Shyamalan’s Glass (Coming January 18th 2019) starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy as the “Sniper.”

I also followed that up by appearing in the new Sylvester Stallone’s Creed 2 (Coming November 21st 2018) starring Michael B. Jordan as a Russian Officer. 

DIBS: Has the service taught you anything about working in the "Film Industry”?

MATT: The service taught me how to listen to authority and have patience and maturity through all circumstances

Also, the longevity of days, adapting and overcoming situations as they come and to stay positive when things don’t go your way. 

DIBS: Are there any similarities between being in the service and the film making world?

MATT: There are some similarities in the two businesses.

Speaking in front of an audience and being a leader type role in any situation are some major ones. Long days are another one and adapting to changes constantly. 

DIBS: Were you able to do any acting singing or dancing in the service?

MATT: My two acting debuts were while I’ve been in the service. No major singing or dancing opportunities yet. However, that won’t stop me from keep pursuing them all. 

DIBS: So you have been behind the camera and in front of the camera, is it safe to assume you prefer in front?

MATT: Oh most certainly in front of the screen. It’s been my life passion ever since I was little and being able to start my journey has become more than I expected.

DIBS: What do you like to do on your free time?

MATT: Hang out with my 3-year-old son, sing and record songs, watch movies, play sports and all around explore new places with my beautiful wife.

Filmmaker Keith Chamberlain

DIBS sat down with Filmmaker Keith Chamberlain, the Person behind Aquariarts Pictures, to talk about the success of Herrings Season 1, the challenges of an Independent Filmmaker, possible expectations of Season 2 and a few things in-between. 

DIBS: Give a synopsis of the show Herrings.

KEITH: Herrings is a dramatic thriller about two men who use the internet to disguise their clients’ digital footprint, which allows those clients to hide in plain sight.

DIBS: How did this series come about?

KEITH: About four years ago, I came across an article about a skip tracer who became a skip maker by using the internet to hide his clients’ digital footprint and thought it would make a great series. However, I was working on other projects and I forgot about it until 2015. Once I decided to make this my next project, it took me 2 years to break the story and another to cast the right actors. Once everything came together, the first episode took about 3 days to make. Now, here’s a  little bit of trivia, the first episode was originally a sizzle reel that I was going use to pitch Herrings as an hour-long show. However, when that fell through, I thought the story was too compelling to abandon and thus I adapted it as a short form web-series.

DIBS: What are the themes highlighted in Herrings?

KEITH: ·Season 1: Everyone has secrets and what some people are willing to do to keep them.

Season 2: Secrets may bring people closer... or tear them apart.

DIBS: Does the show Herrings say anything about the world we live in and if so, how?

KEITH: Definitely, this season, the show tackles timely issues like racial and gender discrimination, the MeToo movement, opioid addiction and the state of modern journalism in the digital era.

DIBS: Have you done other things besides Herrings?

KEITH: Prior to Herrings, I wrote, produced and directed four short films. I’ve also worked in shows and films like “Worthless”, “How to Get Away with Murder” and  “Paranoia”.

DIBS: In your opinion, what sort of stories are important to tell?

KEITH: Right now I’m drawn to drama and personal stuff.  Stories about people living real lives that aren’t afraid to be ugly, very in-your-face type of stuff. The characters in Herrings are complex individuals that just like real life, can garner your sympathy at one moment and your scorn at another.

DIBS: As an independent creator, what are some challenges that you face? And how do you overcome them?

KEITH: The two biggest challenges for me has been scheduling and money.  

A lot of the episodes are made based on the availability of the actors. There was a 16-month gap between Season 1 and 2, several of the actors are either no longer in the area, no longer acting or have moved on to other projects. There was also the matter of recasting certain roles and eliminating others that proved very challenging. Also, for Season 2, I had a definite end date of production and that, at times, conflicted with several of the actors, which is why some characters and their storylines are featured more than others. Trust me, there was a LOT of rewriting involved. In regards to money, while many of the cast and crew were fine working for free, I decided not to go that route for Season 2. This was one of the main factors for the 16-month gap as I wanted to pay my actors more than gas money for Season 2. Even though the budget for Season 2 is larger than Season 1, it was still relatively low and I was upfront about the budget with every D.P and Sound Mixer that I contacted. There were a few no’s but surprisingly there were quite a few yes’s. At the end of the day though, it all comes down to sheer will and a lot of faith.

DIBS: In your opinion, what defines success in filmmaking?

KEITH: When your film resonates with an audience, there’s no better feeling, in my opinion. Some filmmakers want name recognition, but I would much rather have my work recognized.  

DIBS: What sort of success has Season 1 brought?

KEITH: The show has won several awards, including Best Cast, Best Drama and Best Actor awards for both Dax Richardson and David Ogrodowski. Recently, the show was picked up by JivewiredTV,  a streaming television station launching on Apple TV in late June 2018.

DIBS: What can viewers expect in Season 2?

KEITH: Viewers can expect a more nuanced look at the characters introduced in Season 1 as well as several new characters that I think audiences will find equally, if not more, compelling.

DIBS: Lastly, in your opinion should filmmaking be used for entertainment or social change?  

KEITH:Why can’t you do both?

Keith Chamberlain is an award-winning filmmaker who currently resides in Blackwood, NJ. Since 2010,  he has written and/or directed several short films. His last short film, “The Burning Tree”, was both nominated and won at several film festivals, including Golden Door International Film Festival, Pittsburgh Uncut Film Festival, and Hang Onto Your Short Film Festival, among other venues. He also was the founder of the Dysfunctional Screenwriters Society, which from 2010 - 2015, paired local screenwriters from the Philadelphia area with actors for table-reads of their screenplays.

Stay tuned for Season 2 coming soon to the Internet

----

About Aquariarts Pictures : The goal of Aquariarts Pictures is to produce films, music videos, documentaries with other production companies as well as independent film investors to create challenging and powerful productions and bring those pictures to as wide an audience as possible.

Check out Season 1  HERE

Follow on social media on Twitter | Instagram

Still By Cristina Byrne

Still By Cristina Byrne

Still #1, #2, #3 are from Unnamed Photographers -  Still #4 by Cristina Byrne.

Earth (day) Life

One of my earliest memories with my Nana, who spent a lot of time caring for me in my youth, is her pointing out the Robin Red-Breast. “See, Larissa, when he comes back, you know it's spring.”  So, each year when the snow and ice and gloom get to be too much to bear, even now, I look out for Mr. Robin.

Nature came to me in a small scope- raking leaves, helping plant flowers, catching earthworms, stomping in streams. It was these intimate experiences that parlayed into a much wider admiration and certainly adoration for the outdoors.

Now I have two kids of my own- and a small patch of earth for them to explore and call home.  It is both heartening and terrifying. I wonder quite often what parts of this earth we will lose in their lifetime- what will I have to explain as “well, this USED to be…” it is a question too big and troubling to tackle most days.  So, I just bring them outside. We collect rocks we find and talk about how they have arrived at that spot (Glaciers? ICE AGE!), take them to the creek (is it rushing today and muddy? Low and clear? Bone dry?). We also talk about the weather, animals we see, bugs, weeds and more.  Even the news can play a part. We visited Puerto Rico about two years before Hurricanes Maria & Irma hit the small Isle of Enchantment. We talked about their weather patterns, why this might have happened, what was lost and what will have to be rebuilt.

These efforts may seem small or random at best- but they are not without an inherent lesson. Be an observer.  Be present. Catch the light through the leaves in the trees and the raindrops glancing off your skin. What we hear, see, smell and feel today might not be here tomorrow.  And you should NOTICE that. Bear witness to the changes around you because they matter.  

What my children and your children and their children do or don’t do to protect what has sustained us in in their hands.

What we do to aid them in realizing their role in this web of life is entirely ours.

HAPPY EARTH DAY, Y’ALL!

Words by Larissa Nemeth Images by Cristina Byrne

Cartoonist Joe Patrick

Joe Patrick is a freelance cartoonist doing his best to make his hobby into a career. He currently fills his days designing websites and scheduling ads for the Omaha World-Herald. To the delight of his wife, he also spends way too much time obsessing about comic books.

Cristina Byrne and Joe Patrick possibly met in 2015, in Omaha, Nebraska. It was on the 6th floor of the Omaha World-Herald building downtown.

DIBS: So, Joe, we meet on the 6th floor. You are what is called, Ad-Ops, an ad trafficker for the Omaha World-Herald. I would say that we became friends fairly quickly.

JOE: That's sounds right.

DIBS: It was probably because I needed something from you guys. I feel as if most work-relationships start that way. 

JOE: We met fairly early on - you were buddies with my cubicle mate [also named Joe], and you stopped by to ask a question about one thing or another.

But the thing that told me we'd end up being pals - is when I took a couple days off and came back to a picture you made with Joe's and my faces Photoshopped onto Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat. It's still hanging up in my cubicle today!

DIBS: Ha! I remember that! I actually had Rex do it for me because I didn’t have Photoshop on my computer at work. I couldn’t figure out which Joe was who. I could only identify you as Things 1 or Thing 2 not Joe McCampbell and Joe Patrick.

Since I've known you, you had this new year’s resolution, correct? Something like every day you would post a positive thing that happened that day? Could you go into detail about how that started?

JOE: Okay, you are sort of right. This all started back in 2015, when I made a New Year's resolution to write and post one haiku every day on Facebook. It started as something silly to do, but people really seemed to enjoy it, and then started asking me how I was going to top it for the next year.

DIBS: I remember reading those and I really liked them.

JOE: So for 2016, for better or for worse, I decided that I would resolve to draw something every single day. I did this partly because, like you said, I was trying to recapture a love for making art that I had kind of lost over the years. At first, I thought they'd just be quick pencil sketches, but as the year went on, the drawings got more and more elaborate, transitioning from pencil to ink to full color - some small, some large. It ended up being a huge undertaking, but I did it!

DIBS: It’s nice to hear that you stuck with it. You said you were going to do it and you did. There is a sense of hope and or motivation to that.

JOE: This year's resolution has been more vague - not a daily task but a more general commitment to expanding my art into new areas and learn new techniques; to basically better myself artistically however I can.

DIBS: What has changed in your cartoons from last year to this year? What sort of cartoons do you draw?

JOE: Well to start, I hope I've gotten better! Most of the characters I draw are existing characters from pop culture - movies, comics, etc.

DIBS: How do you decide what you are going to draw each day?

JOE: I don't really know what I'm going to draw each day, but I will run with "themes" that cover several days or weeks. For example, I spent a few weeks just drawing characters from The Venture Brothers, then several days doing characters from old Hanna-Barbera cartoons later that year. This past August, I did an entire month of characters created by the famous comic artist Jack Kirby (creator of Captain America, among many others), in honor of what would have been his 100th Birthday.

DIBS: What responses have you gotten with all this?

JOE: I've been lucky enough to sell several pieces from my 2016 batch, and I've also been hired to do various logo and t-shirt designs. In 2016 and 2017, I also helped Legend Comics & Coffee collect donations for their annual fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Nebraska by "selling" original sketch commissions during their Free Comic Book Day event in May.

The response to these art experiments has been really great, and even if I never sold anything, just getting back into creating art on a regular basis has been really rewarding.

DIBS: Please feel free to add anything else.

 JOE:  In addition to the art thing, I also have a podcast that I produce with local rockstar/chef Matt Baum (drummer for Desaparecidos and Montee Men, head chef at The Blackstone Meatball).

Matt and I are lifelong comic book fans and started working together in local comic shops over 15 years ago. We decided to take the daily nonsense we talked about and share it on the Internet with everyone. The show is called The Two-Headed Nerd Comic Book Podcast -- we started in January of 2011 and have been going strong ever since!

Were to find Joe Patrick socially:

http://instagram.com/joepatrickart

http://twoheadednerd.com

http://twitter.com/joepatrick116

http://twitter.com/twoheadednerd

http://patreon.com/twoheadednerd

Art Work Created by Joe Patrick

Artistic Director Beth Thompson

DIBS got a chance to chat with Beth Thompson the Artistic Director of the Shelterbelt Theatre, Omaha Nebraska's home for new plays. We discussed taking chances on new work, the misconception of Nebraska, and the incredible talent that lives in the middle of the country.

DIBS: There is a risk in producing shows that people have never seen before. . .

BETH: Absolutely! For some reason, people accept "new work" in a film but are much more skeptical when it comes to live theater. The forms are VERY different and perhaps film trailers ease some of that as people have some idea of what they are getting themselves into but I adore audiences who consistently take a chance on new work. Every play or musical was new at some point so give it a shot, be brave and open your mind to a new story being told live in front of you! 

DIBS: What challenges have you faced with producing new work and what's rewarding about it? 

BETH: The biggest challenge I find is that people do not seem to appreciate how valuable fostering new work is. Big money donors and arts supporting organizations are more interested in supporting proven material. Actors are more excited about playing a well-known role. Truthfully, I think that they are scared of the work it requires but for me that is what is so rewarding. Anyone can produce/direct/act "proven" material but to dive into something completely new is brave and terrifying but ultimately important to continue to add to the canon. 

DIBS: What compels you to do that? 

BETH: My favorite element of what I do is the process. To read a script that is in it's early stages and be moved by something in it, is exciting. I ask myself how can I be useful to this piece and if I am invested from this early draft that can only grow. I am not a writer but I deeply love storytelling and to be a part of how a piece comes together is exciting for me. I also love watching a playwright as each element comes together; the casting, design elements and workshopping of the script. As each collaborator spins their magic their play/musical comes to life and it is a really special thing to be a part of.

DIBS: As an Artistic Director when you read through the scripts, what sort of elements do you look for? 

BETH: I am specifically looking for material that can be produced in our space. We have limited resources but a lot of heart and creativity so if something absolutely requires a fly system or a car on stage it is not for us. If I read a script and I can picture it in our space, then I will pass it on to the reading committee. If I can't, I don't.

DIBS: As a Director, do you have a certain style of plays you prefer to direct? 

BETH: I don't have a particular style that I prefer but the play/musical has to have a strong point of view, characters that I can relate to (whether I like them or not) or see someone I know in, and a story I feel is important to tell. My first question to young playwrights is often, "why do you need to tell this story?" as I believe that makes all the difference in their delivery of the story.

DIBS: Could you describe the Theatre scene in Omaha? 

BETH: Omaha has a lively, supportive and varied theater scene; we have professional companies like The Rose and Nebraska Shakespeare, we have the largest community theater company in the United States with The Omaha Community Playhouse which also supports a professional touring company of their legendary A Christmas Carol. We have groundbreaking regional companies like the Blue Barn which produces scripts coming off Broadway as well as the regional scene and Brigit St. Brigit which is dedicated to classic work such as Shakespeare, Shaw and their annual Irish Festival. The Shelterbelt shares space with SNAP! Productions whose mission began with LGBTQ stories as well as those that dealt directly with the HIV/AIDS epidemic and has since broadened to include all underrepresented voices. There are a ton of improv, comedy and smaller companies that devise their own work. Combined with our music and visual arts scenes Omaha is a really busy place for anyone interested in live entertainment!

DIBS: As a state of Nebraska, people seem a little surprised that there is anything going on there. Omaha is a hidden gem with a theatre scene. Please describe it for those who have a misunderstanding about Nebraska.

BETH: The biggest misconception people have of Omaha, or more specifically Nebraska, is that we are all creating theater in a cornfield somewhere. I have directed for the Great Plains Theater Conference (www.gptcplays.com) the past 7 years and earlier this fall directed a new musical for ASCAP's Build a Musical program both of which bring playwrights and composers from all over the country come to Omaha or Lincoln to workshop their work and receive a public reading. EVERY single time, no matter how many emails and detailed conversations are exchanged prior to their arrival, these artists are BLOWN AWAY at the talent that exists here. Some even complain when they are given local actors and end up eating their words by the end of the process. Here is one of my favorite stories: Stephen Bray, co-composer/lyricists for The Color Purple, was one of the respondents for the musical reading I directed this past September and he has worked with the best of the best all over the country and came up to one of my actors after the performance and told him that he should be doing this professionally. Talent exists everywhere and most of those that "make it" was not born on the coast. 

DIBS: Have there been plays produced at the Shelterbelt that have gone elsewhere? If so, where? 

BETH: I believe there have been a few things we have premiered over the years that have gone on to be produced elsewhere but the one I know of for sure is Monica Bauer's My Occasion Of Sin, which had an off-Broadway run after we did it a few years ago. Also, Sara Farrington's Mickey and Sage was published after our production, in which she contacted me personally to say that us picking it up was a tipping point for the publishing house. 

DIBS: Why is it important to produce local scripts? 

BETH: Because again talent is not designated to any particular area and we have some amazing voices writing in Omaha.  Audiences need to feel connected to the material and growing up or living (or having lived) in Nebraska is a specific experience that they enjoy relating to. I believe that every city should be supporting their local artists, of all mediums! 

Beth Thompson is a director, actor and has been the Artistic Director of the Shelterbelt Theater in Omaha, Nebraska since 2013. She graduated with a BA in Theater, with a focus in acting and directing, from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2012. Favorite directing credits include Neighbors, Lovers and All the Others, Revelation, The Singularity, In The Jungle You Must Wait, The Other Sewing Circle, Abby In The Summer and Psycho Ex-Girlfriend for the Shelterbelt as well as Tigers Be Still and A Bright New Boise for the Omaha Community Playhouse’s 21& Over reading series. Favorite roles include Nan Carter in Exit, Pursued by a Bear (OCP's 21 & Over), Dale Prist in 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (Shelterbelt), Mom/Ms. Speigel in Dark Play or Stories for Boys (UNO), and Mrs. Hermannson in Eric Hermannson's Soul (Lone Tree Theater Project) which toured to both the Kansas City and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals in 2011.

Beth, and her work, has been nominated for both Theater Arts Guild and Omaha Entertainment and Arts awards. She is proud to head the “Before the Boards” reading series, at the Shelterbelt, which presents staged readings of local plays to assist in their development. Her love of storytelling, collaboration and development of new work keep her striving to improve with each new project and learn a little more about herself and the world around her in the process.