SBTS CO-FOUNDER RETIRES
AFTER 28 YEARS BY THE SEA
It is with heartfelt admiration that we announce the retirement of our Co-Founder Elizabeth Murphy. It is not an exaggeration to say that there would be no Shakespeare By The Sea without her, and it is difficult to put into words how much her dedication to the mission has meant since the very beginning, in 1994.
For 28 years Elizabeth had her hands on the wheel, guiding the company through many highs and lows. Beginning as the General Manager, and very much learning on the job thanks to the incredible surprising success that the company found in the early years, she fought every day to keep live theatre alive in Halifax. From the very first weekend, when over 2,500 people showed up to watch Twelfth Night at the Cambridge Battery, the company became known for groundbreaking performances in and around Point Pleasant Park. She shares the credit with her late husband Patrick Christopher-Carter (Founding Artistic Director) and the late Jean Morpurgo for starting a company that would entertain and inspire generations of theatre-goers in the city, and attract audiences from all around the world.
Born in England, she moved to Vancouver with her family at an early age. An actor by trade, Elizabeth studied theatre at UBC, and had a long career on stages across Canada, including at the Stratford Festival, before settling in Halifax. She would act in several SBTS shows over the years, most notably in the strong motherly roles of the Duchess of York (Richard III, 2004), Volumnia (Coriolanus, 2004) and The Countess (All’s Well That End’s Well, 2007).
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When her husband suddenly passed away during the 2005 season, Elizabeth found strength and support amongst her colleagues, and rallied to keep the company going. Jennie Raymond, an actor from the early days of SBTS, was instrumental in seeing the 2006 season through. Tom Gordon-Smith evolved from being a comedic powerhouse on stage, to a self-taught, jack-of-all trades technical director, handling an enormous amount of the behind the scenes work for many years. This allowed Elizabeth the space to begin to stretch her wings as a director for SBTS, and she would go on to helm over a dozen productions since 2006. Highlights include Merritt-award nominated shows Othello (2008), Twelfth Night (2010), Much Ado About Nothing (2013) and I Am My Own Wife (2015).
Since 2012 Elizabeth has served as the Managing & Co-Artistic Director. During this period the company has regularly played to 10,000+ audience members every year. Alongside Co-Artistic Director Jesse MacLean, she has guided the organization towards two major initiatives: the development of the Park Place Theatre, the company headquarters and 85-seat black box venue, and the Studio at Shakespeare By The Sea, a year-round education and training initiative founded and led by Studio Director & Resident Artist Jade Douris-O’Hara and Artistic Associate Drew Douris-O’Hara.
Running a small not-for-profit theatre is extremely challenging in the best of times, and Elizabeth weathered her fair share of storms. Literally. From actual hurricanes during performances, to park closures due to drought and the long-horn beetle infestation, a fire in 2014 that badly damaged the Park Place Theatre, to an actual global pandemic, she has pretty much seen it all!
Through all of this, she somehow managed to keep the organization going. Her passionate belief that Shakespeare should be easy to understand, and that ticket prices should always be affordable, is the foundation on which the company rests, and from which the company will continue to grow and evolve as it moves forward towards the 30th season and beyond.
Please join all of us at SBTS, including staff and the Board of Directors, as we wish a happy and hurricane-free retirement to Elizabeth Murphy!
Co-Founder of Shakespeare by the Sea
For Shakespeare by the Sea:
General Manager: 1994-2005
General Manager & Co-Artistic Director (w/ Jennie Raymond): 2006
Managing Artistic Director: 2007-2011
Managing & Co-Artistic Director (w/ Jesse MacLean): 2012-2022
Director: The Mercy Seat, The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, Love's Labour's Lost, Twelfth Night, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged, Measure for Measure, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Antony and Cleopatra, I Am My Own Wife, As You Like It, All's Well That Ends Well, and Othello for a second time.
Actor: Coriolanus, The Tragedy of Richard III at Citadel Hill, All's Well That End's Well
Elizabeth headshot: Jesse MacLean
Elizabeth illustrated: Dan Bray
Elizabeth and Young Drew Douris-O'Hara (2004): Billy Foley
Jesse, Elizabeth and Patrick Christopher Carter (2004): Random NYC Stranger
Amos Crawley and Elizabeth in All's Well (2007): Jesse MacLean