Play (with Elisabeth Ahrens)

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This Wooden O

This week Daniel and Monty sit down with actor Elisabeth Ahrens, who was featured in Rude Grooms’s 2019 productions of Romeo & Juliet and The Changeling. She’s also the person we specifically referenced in Episode 1 of the podcast whose audition was so strong we added an entire actor track to a production. To learn more, follow her on Instagram @elisabethahrens.

Topics include:

  • Finding alternatives to clichéd one-note character choices through non-traditional casting choices
  • How a rural, pre-Nintendo childhood inspired young Elisabeth to write, act, and direct in plays for her family to keep herself entertained.
  • Elisabeth’s time in the MFA program at the Asolo Conservatory (Florida State) and the Ringling Circus Museum, Art Gallery, and historic theater space
  • Monty’s inability to differentiate between Jeff Bridges and Jeff Daniels
  • White Russians as Daniel’s entry to drinking in NYC
  • Elisabeth’s extraordinary sense of play as an actor and its root in the text
  • Learning how to work on limited rehearsal time by being thrust into the fire of a condensed rehearsal period
  • The benefits & responsibilities of working in a condensed rehearsal period that doesn’t give you time to procrastinate as an artist
  • How to find freedom and play even in rehearsal rooms where the job is to fulfill a director’s predetermined plan
  • The difference between watching actors who are present with other actors on stage and actors who are checked out and going through the motions
  • The energetic tether between two people who are truly present with each other, on stage and in life
  • The return of Mirror Neurons!
  • The difference in watching theater as an audience member and as a practitioner
  • How to keep things fresh and new and present after you’ve reached the fourth week of a run
  • How rediscovering our spontaneous play as actors requires us to abandon our “good student” desire of some arts to “get it right.”
  • The importance of playing the reality of “mistakes” (or gifts) that happen in performance
  • How difficult it can be to enjoy watching theater as a theater maker
  • The power of being easeful on stage (“for in the very torrent, tempest, and as I may say the whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness”)
  • Working on classical texts as a puzzle for the artist to unpack for the audience
  • Elisabeth’s turn as Peter in our production of Romeo and Juliet & finding new ways to “translate” jokes that resonate in hurtful ways for modern artists and audiences

Music is by Kara Arena, Master of Music for Rude Grooms. Share your thoughts and questions with us @thiswoodeno on Twitter and Instagram, email audio responses to, visit us on the web at, like us at, or support us on Patreon ( to join the conversation during livestream broadcasts of every episode.

This week’s shoutouts, recommendations, & further reading include:

This Wooden O is a production of Rude Grooms. Learn more at or follow us @rudegrooms on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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