Elizabeth Price has been an actor and director in theatre and film in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta and New Mexico. But since earning her Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Boca Raton’s Florida Atlantic University in 2014, she has called South Florida her home and main artistic venue.
In her younger, more devil-may-care days, she might have packed up and bid farewell to the Sunshine State once she had her FAU sheepskin in hand. In fact, she admitted to this writer during an interview seven years ago that she had “a penchant for moving and living in new places.”
But since completing her MFA studies — which included a powerful, memorable performance as Barbara, the fiery daughter who angrily confronts her mother, Violet, in the contemporary play, August: Osage County — Elizabeth has remained close to the SoFla region. She is now an adjunct professor at FAU and at nearby Lynn University, a job that keeps her busy between acting and directing roles.
Elizabeth while directing Lungs for New City Players.
In a recent telephone interview for this article, she offered an update on her career—and her life in general.
The two-year stint at FAU completed Elizabeth’s formal education, which included a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature from Tulane University in 1996 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts diploma from Barry University in 2012. She has also studied voice, movement and dance, but considers herself an actor first.
“I’m an actor who can sing, but I’m not a singer. I’m an actor who can dance, but not a dancer.”
Her curriculum vitae contains a substantial body of wide-ranging works. Since hitting the stage professionally, she has appeared at FAU’s resident professional company, Theatre Lab, in Steven Dietz’s This Random World. She also snagged a role in Outré Theatre’s The Normal Heart, The How and the Why at Arts Garage and as Jack in Thinking Cap Theatre’s The Importance of Being Earnest, among others. The esteemed actor received a Carbonell Award nomination in 2016 for her role in Reborning, also at Arts Garage.
Elizabeth and Krystal Valdes in Crooked at Thinking Cap Theatre.
“I love drama,” she said. “But I also love comedy,” though she has appeared in few laugh-out-loud productions. “August: Osage County was a dark comedy,” she said, as is Rx, her next theatrical effort.
Her performance in Osage County still resonates in the community, and with the young woman who portrayed the hot-tempered daughter. “That play is amazing,” she said. “And I feel you have to give first credit to the play. To be in it, and to play that role, was awesome, it was something extraordinary.”
Elizabeth recalled how physically draining were the roles of Barbara and her ‘mom,” Violet (portrayed by Equity actor Kim Ostrenko) in the three-act play that ran some three hours. “When Kim and I walked off the stage after curtain call, we hugged—because we were each other’s support.”
That production was particularly significant for Elizabeth because it was her last show as an FAU student.
Also, it was “the last time I worked with director Jean-Louis Baldet.” She recalled how valuable he was in helping her hone her acting abilities. “He challenged me to give more. He was an excellent guide. He would say, ‘No, you can still go further’ and ‘No, you can give me more.’”
To this day, August: Osage County remains one of South Florida’s best theatrical productions of 2014.
Enticed into acting by her parents who “saw I had some talent,” Price said she has performed in “everything from Greek tragedy to contemporary.” Her show list runs more than a page of single-space type and includes among her specialties: accents, dialects, clowning, basic combat, fluent Italian and basic Spanish and French.
In the 2014 interview, Elizabeth said she headed to Los Angeles following graduation from Tulane at age 22. LA was generally unproductive, she said, so she headed to Austin in her native Texas to try directing, writing and producing. After that, it was off to Italy to teach for three years, and back to New Mexico for another shot at theater.
It was then that she had a revelation. “I had been acting since I was 7, but I did not have a master’s degree.” She took care of that omission, and in the interview for this article, acknowledged that the additional training was essential.
“When I was younger, I think I ignored how important training is. And you don’t have to have a formal degree. If you’re not training, you get rusty. That’s common for all kinds of jobs.”
She also realized the importance of remaining in one area, becoming acquainted with the local theater market and the people involved. “After I finished at FAU, I stayed – and I’ve had a lot of success from staying here, getting to know the people and letting them get to know me.”
Like most actors, Elizabeth was deprived of live stage work by the COVID-19 pandemic. When the virus struck, she had just returned to the stage after two years of recuperation from a serious car-bicycle accident.
“I was riding my bike on the FAU campus when I was hit by a car,” she said. “I broke a number of bones.” It took a good 24 months to find her way back to health, including six surgeries.
Through messages on Facebook, most everyone in the theater community learned of her plight and sent concerns and prayers.
Still, while the passionate actor-director was recovering, she had to deal with the possibility she might be unable to return to stage work or directing.
“During the two years of convalescing, I had to consider the possibility of being disabled for life. I thought about it, and I came to terms with it. If I continued to be disabled, I could go on – and it would still be me.” But there would also be a void.
She managed that situation with strength and determination and returned to performing. “Acting is still my primary love. I feel most natural acting.” Teaching was an option that remained on the table, but never replaced performing.
Elizabeth in Reservoir Dolls.
The audience wasn’t always aware of Elizabeth’s accident-related troubles. “In Reservoir Dolls, I had a metal rod in my leg.” That Outré Theatre show was an all-female stage adaption of Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 film “Reservoir Dogs,” a shoot- ‘em-up movie about a heist gone wrong.
“I went to school with Shannon (Ouellette, the director),” said Elizabeth. “She knew my work, so she contacted me. I was friends with Skye (Whitcomb, Outré’s artistic director). Also, I am a huge Tarantino fan. I loved ‘Reservoir Dogs.’”
She truly enjoyed the flip-over to female casting. “It was a treat to play a badass.”
Elizabeth in Twelfth Night.
Her last role also involved a gender flip. She portrayed Malvolia – the female version of the shady Malvolio – in the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural “Shakespeare by the Palms” production of Twelfth Night in August. Director Seth Trucks said he specifically chose Elizabeth for the part and was thrilled when she accepted it.
She performed only on opening night. Sadly, she left to deal with the death of her father. “I never had to step out of a play before.”
“My dad was my biggest fan,” she said in a voice laden with emotion. “He was an awesome person.”
Elizabeth in Villainous Company.