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New Bend theater community embraces the power of listening

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Ellipse Theatre Community is a new performing arts nonprofit in Bend that seeks to build a supportive and artistically aware community through the performing arts and education.

ETC's initial project is a unique venture that seeks to answer one simple question: What happens when we allow ourselves to listen and create a space for someone to be heard?

Craig Brauner, ETC Vice President and founding member, developed “In conversation with… A Listening Project” by conducting recorded conversations with diverse artists throughout Central Oregon and beyond.

“In conversation with…” will feature stop-motion filmmaker and dyslexia advocate Krista Weltner; actress, playwright and activist Stephanie Von Aydan; Father Jim Radloff of Holy Communion Church; composer and music educator Paula Dreyer; voiceover artist and sound designer Barbara Rich; LGBTQ+ activist and drag entertainer Alex Simpson; zero waste fashion designer Shelly Xu; Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Play On! producer Taylor Bailey; vogue dancer and performing artist David “Dale Blackheart” Leach; Brad Ruder of LimeLight Entertainment; local actress and director Sandy Silver; as well as stand-up comedian and actor Jamal Thomas.

Of the 12 participants, nine currently reside and create in Bend, with the others based in Portland, Chicago, and New York City.  While each of the conversations are unique and have their own individual moments of sincere and emotional connection, they are all united by one common question — what inspires you?

“That was my favorite question to ask because more often than not the answer was always ‘people’,” says Brauner. 

The series will be released episodically on YouTube ( every Monday starting on April 5, and shared on ETC’s social media accounts through Facebook ( and Instagram (@etcbend).

The leadership behind ETC hopes that those who come to watch and follow the series will be inspired to explore new art forms, support local artists, and perhaps be encouraged to strike up more conversations within the community and beyond it, furthering the reach of this endeavor.

“In conversation with…” is just the start of what Central Oregon can expect from ETC as planning is currently underway for some exciting educational programing, outreach initiatives and theatrical productions. 

Angelina Anello-Dennee, ETC president and founding member, said, “When we announced the creation of ETC, people were more interested in knowing what shows we would produce. While we do intend to produce theatre, our focus then and very much right now is on listening to the needs of our artistic community and creating the opportunities to meet those needs. We believe this project is important in fostering our mission of ‘creating community one stage at a time’.”

More About Ellipse Theatre Community

The Mission of Ellipse Theatre Community seeks to build a supportive and artistically aware community through the performing arts and education.

The Vision of Ellipse Theatre Community seeks to dynamically create community through entertainment, education, and diverse perspectives for cultural enlightenment. They strive and will encourage all to lead, create, and learn from their core values of Collaboration, Outreach, Relevance, and Excellence. With these as their foundation, they intend to create quality theatre for an inspired and evolving community - “one stage at a time”.

Ellipse Theatre Community is committed to building a creative and dynamic community that celebrates individual differences and treats everyone with fairness and respect. Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, and Accessibility are essential to Ellipse Theatre Community, as they believe the unique perspectives and experiences throughout our community are invaluable to achieving ETC’s Mission and Vision.

Ellipse Theatre Community will not discriminate in practices or employment opportunities on the basis of an individual’s race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status, disability, or any other category protected by federal, state, or local regulations.

Article Topic Follows: Arts

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