Ella Dorband, the Ensemble’s newest member, curator extraordinaire, playwright of last season’s The Callers, and Front of House director, sat down to chat with me about her role in the Ensemble, her curation of the theater’s gallery, and the Seattle art community.
James Schreck: I’m here with Ella Dorband, the newest member of Washington Ensemble Theatre. How are you doing, Ella?
Ella Dorband: I’m doing well, thank you for asking.
JS: When did you start working for WET?
ED: I have kind of a funny background with WET, in that I’ve curated the company’s gallery for a while, last season, and it kind of came out of nowhere- Ali suggested that. I started working with the company that way, and I also was the playwright for The Callers last season.
JS: How long have you been an ensemble member?
ED: When did I start? I joined a couple of months ago.
JS: And what is your role in the ensemble?
ED: So, I am a curator, which is the job that I am continuing with, and I am the Front of House Director, and I’m hoping to work more as a playwright- I’m working a new script right now.
JS: Shifting gears back to the gallery- what is WET’s gallery’s role in the larger Seattle arts community?
ED: It’s really exciting; I see it as a way to bridge the visual arts and the performing arts in Seattle. There’s a few ways of going about that- they aren’t nearly as involved with each other as they should be. I see it as a way to make new connections and bring up various topics that are being explored in both arenas, and explore the similarities and dissimilarities in how they deal with a broad range of topics.
JS: How do you think that visual arts and theatre can intersect more effectively to the enrichment of both?
ED: I think that over the last, well, quite a few years, that we have been seeing that movement in general on both sides. I think that acknowledging both- acknowledging the other when you’re making either really will enrich both experiences. We should be thinking about different ways of engaging our audiences. Both disciplines can gain so much from the other that it makes sense to be thinking about these questions.
JS: What do you have planned for WET’s gallery?
ED: I’m really excited- I just got thrown the chance to curate our co-production, Ballard House Duet, because what we were originally going to do fell through. So I’m going to my boyfriend, actually, which is kind of incestuous, but I’ve been wanting to show his work for a long time. So, I’m going to dig something out of his basement and do a really practical installation of just one piece. For Smudge, our next show, I’m looking at doing a more three-dimensional installation. We usually have only done two-dimensional pieces hanging from the wall. I’m looking forward to bringing in more types of art.
JS: Like you said, you co-wrote The Callers with Ali el-Gasseir. What’s up next for you as a playwright?
ED: I just finished up the most recent draft of a play which has been referred to as The Shark Play, and is now being called Darkest Sea Deepest Night. We’ll see if that fits, but I really like it.
JS: Sort of a maritime theme.
ED: Well, yeah. It’s about a guy who’s poaching sharks, and what becomes of him.
JS: And in general, what are you most excited about, with your role in the ensemble?
ED: I’m just really excited to get more involved, and bring about a greater connection to the arts community in Seattle. And to dig in behind the scenes, too, and bring my other skills to the ensemble.