Profile

Q&A

What is your full name?

Elizabeth Anne Jastroch (The “ch” is silent). But, please don’t call me Elizabeth. I will not respond unless you are my mother and I’ve done something wrong. It’s Beth. I should just change it.

What's the first theatrical experience that stuck with you?

My mom used to take us to children’s theatre. I remember eating Cheetos and loving it. [It was] SNOW WHITE? CINDERELLA? When I directed TWELFTH NIGHT this past summer in Carroll Park, my favorite thing was to talk to the little girls who would come night after night to watch. They had very strong opinions on the love triangle that they needed to discuss with me. I’m positive I was one of those kids, just with 80’s hair.

How do you identify yourself as an artist?

It’s a moving target. Acting has taken a back seat the past few years … I’m taking the time to explore writing and directing and learning a fuck-ton along the way. I never imagined I would love directing as much as I do. I think my attention to detail and bossy personality is finally channeled into something positive. I never feel as focused or as energized as when I’m in the rehearsal room digging into new material. It’s addictive. As far as comedy, I never set out to write it … I just prefer to think about an idea through humor. I don’t know if that makes me a comedic writer, but I’m euphoric every time someone laughs at my work, so there must be something to it for me.

What performers/writers/directors inspire you?

I am a huge consumer. I watch every sitcom I can get my hands on. I listen to Marc Maron and The Nerdist. I watch The Daily Show and Colbert. I love Roseanne, I’m a huge Shakespeare geek, I adore Jane Austin, Louis C.K, Nick Hornby, Malcolm Gladwell, Chealsea Handler, Teressa Rebeck, Katherine Bigelow, Nora Ephron, and I will pay anything to see Vanessa Redgrave on stage in anything that she does.

Describe your writing process.

I need to have an idea of what I’m writing about before I can write … what about life I want the characters to be exploring in the piece, what I want to say. Once I have that, I imagine a character I don’t want to spend time with (they’re usually the only ones worth writing about anyway) and then place them in a scenario that amuses me. I usually have to think about a piece for a week or two before I can get anything out on paper. It’s never fully formed until I start writing, but I don’t sit down unless I really know one character’s voice.

How can artists best utilize The Shelter/Shelter Sunday?

You get out what you put in, which really isn’t always the case in this business. For example, I can write a scene, hear it read aloud, network and take notes on a Sunday. But if I don’t come back to Shelter having taken that feedback to heart and to paper, I’ll have gained nothing. It’s the coming back, the adjustments, the constant self-starting work ethic that is so hard to maintain on your own and so much easier when you aren’t alone in the struggle to be a better artist. That’s been huge for me. I’ve taken chances with Shelter that it might have taken me years to work up the courage to elsewhere. Failure is less frightening when everyone is jumping all at once, all the time.

If you could have dinner with any three artists, who would you choose and why?

1. Edward Albee: I was reading a book of interviews with him and he seemed like an asshole. 2. Dolly Parton: she seems like she would have a lot of good practical Southern advice. 3. Tina Fey: ’cause she doesn’t know we’re best friends yet.