Young Professional 2019: Ellicia Elliott
Ellicia Elliott, Artistic director and co-founder of The Rude Mechanicals
Age and hometown: 39, Kennewick
How long have you worked for The Rude Mechanicals? 6 years
Job title: Artistic director, co-founder of The Rude Mechanicals, as well as an adjunct professor at Walla Walla University teaching theater classes and directing the fall play, “Ada and the Engine” by Lauren Gunderson. I am also a freelance professional director.
Describe your company: The Rude Mechanicals is Eastern Washington’s premier Shakespeare and Shakespeare-inspired theater company. Our vision is to inspire a community where innovative, high-quality theater is celebrated. Our mission is to enhance our community through the performing arts, educate the public on the value and impact of live theater, elevate the quality of live theater locally and entertain our entire community by delivering high-quality Shakespeare-inspired theater produced by our diverse ensemble of cast and crew. We firmly believe in the importance of representation of our entire community, both on stage and behind the scenes.
Education: Master’s of fine arts in directing, University of Idaho, 2019; master’s in theater production, Central Washington University, 2008; bachelor’s in language arts and theater arts secondary education, CWU, 2003.
Family? Pets? My husband Geoff and I have been married for 11 years and have two boys, Malcolm and Henry. We have one lovable, large dog named Atticus, and two black cats, Harvey and Mimi.
How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? I moved to Kennewick from Idaho Falls, Idaho, when I was in fourth grade. I lived in Kennewick through high school graduation, then returned to the Tri-Cities after earning my bachelor’s.
What word describes you? Empathetic
Biggest flaw? I still worry too much about what others may think of me.
Biggest pet peeve? Drivers who don’t use their blinker lights.
Dream vacation? Going back to England and Scotland, this time with my husband and two boys.
Favorite book? “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
Favorite movie? “The Sound of Music” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Favorite musician? Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephen Sondheim, the Beatles
Favorite sports team? Seahawks
Favorite website or app? Oregon Shakespeare Festival (osfashland.org); Stitcher podcast app.
Favorite Tri-City restaurant? Porter’s Real Barbecue, Barracuda Coffee
Favorite thing to do in Tri-Cities? I love visiting our local farmers markets, Adventures Underground, directing plays at The Uptown Theatre and visiting historic downtown Kennewick.
What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? Even though I run a Shakespeare theater company now, in high school I didn’t understand why he was such a big deal, and I thought reading his plays were boring. (That’s because the plays are supposed to be watched, and not read!) Thankfully, a college professor opened my eyes to how awesome and powerful Shakespeare can be and how his work should be fun and accessible for everyone.
Describe your job and how you got into it: Theater has always been a part of my life; I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere else. So, in a way, I got into my current job by getting involved in theater in high school, then studying it in college. I started out as an actor but realized once I started teaching I absolutely loved directing. This eventually led to my current job, as artistic director and co-founder of The Rude Mechanicals. I am responsible for the artistic elements for our company, including choosing the plays, choosing the directors and advising casting of our acting company. I also direct at least one production per season and advocate for theater arts education and using theater for social change.
Who are your mentors? Wes Van Tassel is who taught me to love Shakespeare. Bill Rauch, outgoing artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, has shown me how to direct in creative ways and the importance of caring about those you work with, what you do and how that affects your community. I’m also thankful for some amazing female theater artists who have broken down barriers and inspire me, including Dawn Monique Williams, Larissa FastHorse, Lauren Gunderson, Shana Cooper, Emily Richman and Martine Green-Rogers.
Toughest career decision? The toughest career decision I’ve had to make was leaving my teaching career to pursue creating a theater company, which at the time I had no clue if it would work out or not. It was the scariest leap of faith I have ever taken, and the most rewarding. I miss my students, but also was inspired and encouraged by them to pursue a dream I had for a very long time. Now, I get to work with many of my former students in our theater company.
What do you like most/least about your job? I love working as part of an ensemble to bring theater to our community and to hopefully make it accessible to everyone, especially those who may not consider themselves “theater people.” I love seeing students of all ages find a personal connection to what we do.
My least favorite part of my job is feeling a sense of pressure to constantly succeed, worried that if there is a weak moment or an attempt at something that doesn’t end up like I hoped, that I’ll be judged and blamed for it.
What was your first job? My first job was as a teacher’s assistant at an early childhood education center. I learned classroom management, how to communicate with many different kinds of people and how ego is not something that will contribute to working as a team.
How do you achieve work-life balance? Oh! That’s a good question. I am still working on it! I am getting better at sharing the work load with others, so I can spend more time at home with my family. I’m more assertive when I’m asked to do something outside of my “normal” job description, (usually) only agreeing to do something extra if it doesn’t interfere with my family’s schedule. I also often bring my children to rehearsals or performances so they can see what mommy has been working on.
Community involvement and service: I have volunteered for each of our local community theaters, off and on since I moved back to the Tri-Cities in 2003. I also have volunteered at the Benton Franklin County Juvenile Justice Center, Shakespeare Walla Walla and as a guest speaker in our local schools. We try to “pay it forward” in our theater company, so we have had food drives for Second Harvest and offered free tickets to government employees when the government was shut down.
I also volunteer for the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and through the artEquity organization, to promote EDI work (equity, diversity and inclusion) in the performing arts.