This March, Elizabeth Floyd is directing the play “A Burial Place” by Owen Panettieri at The Wheel Theatre Company in Washington, DC.
Elizabeth Floyd is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Wheel Theatre Company. As a graduate of Elon University in North Carolina, Elizabeth is the author of the thesis, “Staging History through Shakespeare’s Henriad,” which she recently presented at The American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Conference. She also studied abroad at the London Dramatic Academy where she was fortunate enough to study Shakespearean acting under some of the most prominent theater teachers in England. Elizabeth has had the opportunity to work at several theatres in the Virginia, DC, Maryland areas including, The American Shakespeare Center, The Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, and Centerstage.
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What is “A Burial Place” about?
“A Burial Place” is the story of three college students who return home for their annual sleepover for what they think is a night of drinking beer, gossiping about the kids they went to high school with and playing Super Smash Bros. Instead, they return home to find that their town has been rocked by a gruesome discovery out in the woods where they used to play. What was a fun night turns tense as they are forced to confront a secret that could tear their friendship apart forever.
How did you come across the script and what was your initial reaction?
I came across the script on New Play Exchange and read it on a total whim. I kid you not when I say my jaw literally dropped. As soon as I finished, I read it again and experienced the same emotions. “A Burial Place” is stunning script. It is beautiful and honest and, at some points, completely gut-wrenching, but what stands out the most to me is that it is full of heart. After I read it the first time, I could not stop thinking about it. For days, it lingered in my mind and I knew I had to bring it to life. I feel so fortunate to be working on what I consider to be one of the best scripts I have read in years.
What can a theatregoer expect to see when they attend “A Burial Place?”
I think more than anything, the audience will fall completely in love with the play’s beautifully-realized and relatable characters. Of course, I credit this to the magic of the script, but I also have to credit our gifted actors who work perfectly in tandem with the script. I want audiences to come away knowing what these characters discover during the course of the play: that our emotions – especially joy and sadness – do not live separate from one another, that they are both essential to our growth as human beings, and that, in fact, it is our relationships with each other that give life meaning.
What is your vision as director for “A Burial Place?”
“A Burial Place” is grounded in reality- it is important that we are playing every moment with truth. My vision is for the audience to feel like they are in the room with the characters experiencing what the characters experience in the moment. I see this come to fruition during each rehearsal as our actors embody the characters and elevate my vision for the play beyond what I could have imagined.
What has the rehearsal process been like for “A Burial Place?”
I am so very fortunate to be working with three truly incredible actors- Colton Needles, Alex Lew and Philip Kershaw. From day one, they understood who these characters are and the world they live in. The process has been very collaborative. As a director, I have been following the actor’s lead just as much as they have been following mine. This is in line with our mission as a theatre company – that a wheel is only as strong as the spokes that support it; we strive to nurture a theatrical collective that trusts and relies on one another.