Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth A. M. Keel.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’m a native Houstonian and a graduate of HISD. My older sister Katherine introduced me to theater in high school. (She was stage managing a production of Gypsy, and since I was waiting on a ride home, I might as well watch Norma, the sheep.) I soon became fascinated by the unique puzzles of problem-solving and supportive family structure offered by theatre. When I trotted off to the University of Houston as an eager double major in English and Acting/Directing, the penny finally dropped. I realized I could combine my loves of language and theatre, and that playwriting was my ideal career. I’ve been cheerfully inundated ever since!
Please tell us about your art.
I tend to write about myths, magic, science fiction, love, and strong women. (Go figure.) Of my two novels, Running Into Trouble and Life After Myth, one is a gentle coming of age love story, and the other argues Medea’s case for murdering her children. My plays often explore new worlds that are just adjacent to our own, such as a Houston coffee shop brimming with sex demons, or giving a female Revolutionary War hero an imaginary friend. I hope to remind people that our world is malleable, and capable of improvement wherever connections can be forged.
What do you think about conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
I think artists today have to be more savvy, outgoing, engaging, and determined than ever before. They have to be experts in their field, and also capable of writing grants, press releases, and applications to become a non-profit. We all keenly feel the exponential demands on the two big resources: space and money. What Houston needs to do is continue investing in courage, in the form of palpable endorsement. Continue to fund the Houston Arts Alliance. Let’s build more MATCHs and Gordys and please, please, please, some centrally-located rehearsal spaces. Artists need more leeway to experiment, discover, fail, and rise again.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I am a Swiss Army knife. Not only do I stage my plays, but I also act, direct, produce, and dramaturg. The best place to track my upcoming projects is on my website, elizabethamkeel.com. But if you want to support my work, the best thing you can do is attend the Houston theatre. We’re an organic root system, and we all feed each other. Go see plays! Take your friends!
- Website: elizabethamkeel.com
Ben Doyle, Os Galindo, Gentle Bear Photography, Jess Lynn Martinez, Cressandra Thibodeaux, Christine Weems, Paige Willson, Paige Kiliany Wright.