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Best of Olympia 2019: Elizabeth Lord

Readers' Pick: Best Actress and Arts Scene MVP

Storytelling master Elizabeth Lord has her hands in nearly every facet of Olympia theater. (Credit: Elizabeth Lord)

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It's not Elizabeth Lord's first time receiving accolades from Weekly Volcano readers, having won the title of Best Actress multiple times. This does mark the first instance, though, where she's also laying claim to Arts Scene MVP. It only makes sense, really, to consider Lord a valuable player -- since moving to town in 1991, Lord has immersed herself in the fabric of Olympia theater, having a hand in just about every facet of live performance, from storytelling, to improv, to even managing a performance space (the dearly departed Midnight Sun).

Over the years, Lord has become synonymous with storytelling, which she sought as a career path nearly 30 years ago.

"Every once in a while, I'll think that I've tapped (my life for stories), that the well's dry, that I'm either going to have to start manufacturing some ‘inspirado,' to quote Tenacious D, or I'm going to have to quit telling stories," said Lord. "But, it's never dry. There's always more, and it just depends on perspective on your past experiences, and how you want to frame them for a particular storytelling."

One of Lord's major ongoing projects, which she co-created with Amy Sheppard, is StoryOly, a monthly storytelling slam that welcomes monologists of any experience level to share yarns about themselves based on a theme. Being that Lord also teaches workshops on how to tell stories, she has some advice for people looking to step on the StoryOly stage for the first time.

"Provide context," said Lord. "Just like a bad joke-teller will tell you the punchline without giving you the lead-up, it's the same with storytelling. You need to give us the context of your life, so we can appreciate the significance of the events you're about to tell us. The example I use in the workshop is, if I just declared, ‘I wore pants today,' who cares? But, if I had first begun with context, and explained that I grew up in a very religious community, in which women were forbidden from wearing pants, and finally I decided to wear pants for the first time, then suddenly it has significance."

With StoryOly, her continued involvement in the Heartsparkle Players -- an improv group that spins scenes out of stories from the audience -- and an upcoming variety show she describes as being like a satirical riff on A Prairie Home Companion, Lord is far from curtailing her enrichment of Olympia's arts scene.

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