OPhelia Theatre Group West
Sarah Bennett is a playwright, producer, and the founder of the Ophelia Theatre Group. She wrote and produced her first production soon after high school and started her own company in 2003, naming it Ophelia as a nod to her home town of Lake Elsinore, California. After many years of continuous success at home, she moved the business to New York where the company was rebuilt from the ground up including over a dozen other original members from the west coast. To date, Sarah has produced close to 50 productions, 12 of which she has written herself. As the Ophelia Theatre Group approaches her fifteenth anniversary, it is a dream come true to return home with the founding of OTG West alongside the incomparable Eric Ruiter. It is her deepest privilege and joy to continue to share the magic of the theater with so many passionate souls, discovering the communal love, heartache and laughter that makes us a human family.
Eric has been a member of the Ophelia Theatre Group since high school, wearing every hat imaginable in pursuit of making great art with the people he loves most. As Artistic Director during the company’s NYC expansion, he worked alongside each production’s director to uphold OTG’s mission statement while expanding professionally and creatively. He also encouraged artistic growth within the community by overseeing the development of a “second stage” series of play readings, workshops and educational programming. Directing credits with OTG include Some Night, Almost, Maine, Floyd Collins, The Fox and Boulder, and Hamlet.Prior to his time in NYC, he received his BA in Theatre Performance with Honors from Cal State Long Beach and worked with many Southern California and UK theatre companies including The Garage Theatre, Alive Theatre and London’s Royal Court. He began teaching scenework classes at the Norris Performing Arts Center this year and is currently Assistant Directing a new play, Your Alice, which will be performing at BAM in NYC and then journeying overseas to participate in the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
To bring artists and communities together through the love and power of storytelling.
At OTG West, we believe that theatre is the beating heart of every great community. Sharing stories in a shared space is at the center of humanity, and our love of creating those stories is at the center of who we are. From Lake Elsinore to New York City and now back again, we have spent our lives doing what we love with the people we love most. Our theater is home, our audience is family. Come visit with us, laugh with us, share a drink or a song. Let’s build something great together, one story at a time.
The Ophelia Theatre Group was founded in 2003 by playwright/producer Sarah Bennett in her hometown of Lake Elsinore, California. Composed of a group of high school friends, they began by renting spaces and performing original works as well as classic favorites. Over the years the company became a staple of the community, broadening their artistic scope to include larger-scale productions while also providing entertainment for fundraisers, benefits and educational programs for the local Woman’s Club, Elks Lodge and public school system.
By 2011, OTG had produced dozens of full length productions in the Inland Empire and was looking to tackle a new challenge. The company decided to relocate professionally and personally to New York City, where fifteen original members moved together and started producing theatre together in the neighborhood of Astoria, Queens. Rapidly growing in size and reputation, OTG successfully renovated a seldom-used dance studio at the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens into a 75-seat black box theater, which has been used to rehearse and perform original works, published works, new play readings and variety events since 2014. The company also provides theatre classes and performance opportunities for the children at the Boys and Girls Club. The original company of fifteen Californians has flourished into an ensemble of over fifty passionate artists in NYC and continues to grow and thrive today.
In the winter of 2018, the company set its sights on a new challenge: becoming bicoastal. With the support of company members on both sides of the country, OTG is now coming back home to form a West Coast branch of their East Coast theater. Combining the spirit of warmth and communion that brought them together as teenagers with the professionalism and inventiveness developed in NYC, OTG hopes to foster a truly unique theatrical community and tell stories that matter to us all for years to come.