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Penning her passion

Photos by Dan Bishop

October 2014

Although she has been acting since she was 11 years old, Milwaukee’s Liz Shipe didn’t set out to be a writer. But over the past two years, she has become one of the city’s most prolific playwrights.

Maybe this Cinderella story was inevitable for Shipe, 26, who has always loved the theater. As a high school student in Fond du Lac, she and a group of friends pulled together their own production of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)," the comedy penned by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield.

Shipe pays the bills by working at Massage Envy, but her passion is illuminated by footlights. While stage-managing a play at the Brumder Mansion, a Milwaukee bed and breakfast, she suggested to the owners that the English Arts and Crafts setting would be the perfect location for a Sherlock Holmes mystery. They challenged her to write the script, and she couldn’t resist.

"That first show sold out before the opening," she recalls. So the Brumder owners commissioned a sequel, then a third play and a holiday musical.

After writing a one-act for the Pink Banana Theatre Co., Shipe penned her most recent project for Theater Red. "A Lady in Waiting" is an offbeat interpretation of the Robin Hood story from the point of view of Maid Marian’s maid. None of the characters, Shipe says — the narrator, not even Robin Hood — are what they appear to be.

Shipe took on the role of Maid Marian and has acted in each of her shows. Once the story gets "out of my head and onto paper," she says, "it doesn’t feel like I wrote it anymore." She says she often has to rememorize her lines.

"I want to keep pushing," she says. "One day, I would like to see myself perform at the Skylight or the Rep or something like that. I just want to go as far as I possibly can with it."


This story ran in the October 2014 issue of: