Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Spotlight on Ellen Cribbs and Pandemic

By • Jun 11th, 2007 • Category: Interviews, NVTA

Listen to Mike talk with Ellen Cribbs, director and playwright of Pandemic [MP3 6:16 1.8MB]. Pandemic will be performed at the NVTA One Act Festival on Saturday, June 16th, at 7:30.

Mike: Hi, this is Mike with ShowBizRadio. Today I am talking with Ellen Cribbs, who is the director and the playwright of an original drama called Pandemic, which is being performed with the Pied Piper Theatre at the NVTA on Saturday, June 16 at 7:30 PM. Good morning.

Ellen: Good morning.

Mike: So tell us what Pandemic is all about.

Ellen: Pandemic is basically a story of some strangers who are stuck in a very awkward situation. It’s a little bit of a surprise. I don’t want to give away completely what it’s about. There’s something going on that is not right with the world. These strangers have been stuck together for the past day in a first grade classroom. They basically have to deal with each other’s conflicting personalities and figure out how to work together in order to survive through this tragedy that’s going on around them.

Mike: The note from the NVTA says mature theme. But isn’t Pied Piper Theatre a children’s theatre?

Ellen: It is a children’s theater. It can have children up through age 18 in the one acts so most of my performers are in their teens. Our oldest person is 18. We have two people who are freshmen in high school. Then we have a sophomore, a senior, and then someone who is starting their first year at NOVA. It’s mostly an older cast. They’re all very smart kids and they all have mature attitudes so I thought that they could handle it.

When I actually auditioned I hadn’t decided on what play we’re doing yet. I had a couple plays in mind and I wanted to see what talent came out. When I saw these kids I thought it would be perfect to put them in this play. All of them had that energy and that drive and I knew they could handle the material. It really is more of a comedic drama if that’s possible. It’s kind of it’s own genre really. There are several funny bits.

Since it’s set in a first grade classroom there are a lot of points where the characters are playing around with all these kid’s things. There’s one character who is very sarcastic through the whole thing. There are comic bits that the kids get to play with, too. There are some more dramatic moments as well.

Mike: Have you written many shows? You said you had a few to choose from.

Ellen: I wasn’t choosing from another one that I had written. I had a couple previously produced plays to consider as well. In the past I’ve written several, but most of them have been done already. None of the unproduced ones would really match with Pied Piper so it was either this one or one previously produced.

Mike: I met you on Saturday night and we chatted briefly. I mentioned that we really enjoyed your performance in Wait Until Dark for Chevy Chase Players. What else have you done in the area?

Ellen: I’ve been in the Northern Virginia area since I started middle school. Throughout middle and high school I did a lot of community theater. Mostly with Prince William Little Theatre and Pied Piper Theatre when I was younger. Then later a couple of other community theaters in the Northern Virginia area. Then I went off to college in New York. I went to Ithica to get my acting degree, then I came back here and had an internship in the education department with the Shakespeare Theatre Company. With that internship I started in September. It’s been keeping me pretty busy. Wait Until Dark was the only play I got to do when I got back from college. I am actively trying to keep involved in community theater because I love it. Hopefully the next step is I’m hoping to pursue professional theater.

Mike: So do you want to stay on stage or backstage?

Ellen: I enjoy both, but I really want to focus in on being on stage next. I’m always going to keep up my writing and I love directing whenever the opportunity comes around. In my free time I love to just keep writing, but always I have that passion to be onstage as well. That’s my main goal so next year I’ll focus on getting on stage more.

Mike: Do you have any advice maybe for people who want to study acting?

Ellen: I would definitely say go out and observe a lot of theater. I know whenever NVTA comes around each year I try to see all the plays if possible. I think just observing theater is the best thing you can do because you can learn from the actors. You can learn from the writing. You can learn from the style of the pieces and the blocking. How the director has done certain things. The different forms and genres of theater that can impact your work as well. So I highly recommend that for people. To go out and see as much theater a possible. Then get the best training they can. I thought I knew a lot before I went to college, but I certainly didn’t once I went through. I realize how much there was to learn about theater. I think my work improved highly after spending four years studying it in college.

Mike: Is there anything else you’d like to share with people about Pandemic or NVTA or community theater in the area?

Ellen: I would just say that NVTA is a wonderful program and I know it’s tricky because it used to be in Reston and people are very familiar with it being there for a long time. Last year was the first year it moved to it’s new location in Falls Church. But I’m hoping people will make it out and keep it alive. I know it’s hard to transition to a new space. It’s great because there are so many companies and so many shows involved this year so I hope it continues to go and that people will keep coming out to see the shows because it’s a great way to see a whole bunch of work from all these different theaters.

Mike: Definitely. I’ve enjoyed the ones we’ve seen so far.

Ellen: Yeah, Definitely. Me too.

Mike: Ok. Well let’s see it’s Pandemic. It’s going to be Saturday night at the 7:30 session. The Pied Piper Theatre will be the performers.

Mike: Thanks very much for talking with me. I appreciate it.

Ellen: Thank you.

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