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Conversations with David Ellenstein

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Ellenstein.

Hi David, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I was born into a theatre family and have followed this career path since a child. Born in NYC and raised in Los Angles, my entire life has been immersed in theatre and film. I began my tenure as Artistic Director here in 2003 after a career in regional theatre throughout the country as a freelance actor, director, artistic director and theatre teacher. My wife Denise and I decided to settle in this beautiful part of the world once we had children.

The North Coast offer made that possible. North Coast Repertory Theatre was founded 40 years ago by Tom and Olive Blakistone who wanted to bring quality theatre to North County San Diego. North Coast Rep has developed into one of the leading professional theatre companies in the county, employing top actors and directors from throughout the country as well the best local theatre artists.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In the not-for-profit arts world it is never easy, There have been fiscal ups and downs over the years, but the desire to bring great theatre art to our community and the know how of a great staff has allowed us to thrive. We have loyal and generous supporters who help to make this possible. Despite covid, we are riding a wave of creativity and prosperity. and producing high quality productions. While unable to present live theatre to audiences, we created eight fully produced filmed plays that we streamed to our audience.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
We believe there is great theatre to be found in every genre, so our canon at North Coast Rep includes work of all kinds. New plays, old plays, comedies, dramas, musicals and commissions. We are known for the consistent high quality of the acting, and for the production values we create. We also have a resident set designer, Marty Burnett, who has designed more than 200 consecutive sets in our theatre.

Patrons continue to marvel at what he achieves in our intimate space. Despite our intimacy at 194 seats, our audience has come to expect top notch work from all of our creative departments. Personally, I am a lover of the classics – Shakespeare, Chekhov and Shaw – but I find joy n creating all kinds of theatre.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
It’s a long haul. If you want to make theatre your life, stay open to opportunities that present themselves and be ready and prepared to take advantage of them. There will be disappointments along the way. Don’t let them daunt you. Follow your passion and remain determined. It will ultimately lead you to find your place. Understand that those in higher tears, or who are more accomplished, were not always that way. They were once like you trying to find their way and make their mark. It doesn’t happen the same way for everyone and for some it takes a longer time. Continue to get better and remain available – and be patient. Enjoy the journey.

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Image Credits:

Aaron Rumley
Joanna McLelland
Denis O’Hare
Richard Hellesen
Larry Gelbart
Stephen Sondhiem

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