We learn by engaging in theatre. The main goal is to feel what another is feeling, whether you are an actor on the stage, or a member of the audience sitting in a dark theatre.
At Grief Dialogues Health Care Education, we use theatre as the artistic expression most likely to reach an audience on a personal level. Theatre is the ultimate empathy generator. The productions allow us, as individuals and as a society, to face the untold, unheard, and often misunderstood tales of life and death.
Elizabeth Coplan, founder and chief playwright, started the Grief Dialogues in 2016 as a theatrical expression opening new conversations between grievers, those with terminal and chronic illness, and the health care providers who serve them.
In 2019 Coplan joined forces with Virginia Mason Palliative Care Program to create an evening of short plays followed by a moderated discussion.
As COVID-19 developed, we noticed a massive increase in demand for caregivers and medical providers. We transitioned our performances to online platforms to provide our content in a safe and accessible way.
Elizabeth Coplan is a 40-year marketing and public relations veteran who turned her personal loss and grief into the groundbreaking play, Grief Dialogues. She is also the founder of the nonprofit Grief Dialogues, a theatrical movement to create new conversations about dying and death.
Founder of Grief Dialogues
Elizabeth’s next career move was to Seattle, Washington. Considered one of the pioneers in professional services marketing by the Puget Sound Business Journal, Elizabeth served as the first Northwest marketing director for the Big 8 accounting firm Touché Ross, followed by a position as the Director of Client Service and Development for the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine. When Elizabeth joined Davis Wright, the firm had three offices. Six years later the firm had expanded to 10 offices across the country. During this time, Elizabeth developed the concept of strategic sponsorships for law firms, and Davis Wright was rated the most respected law firm in the Pacific Northwest the year she left to start her own consulting firm.
Elizabeth is a published author with essays in numerous anthologies and is the editor of Grief Dialogues: The Book, a finalist for the 2019 Pacific Northwest Book Award.
Grief Dialogues: The Book
Her early love of theatre pivoted to playwriting when her first play, the award-winning Hospice: A Love Story was performed in Seattle, WA; Sedona, AZ; in LA at The Group Rep, and in the UK.
Elizabeth workshopped her play Hospice (now titled Over My Dead Body) at 18th & Union theatre (Seattle) in 2017. Hospice received a 2021 Writer’s Digest Award in the Script Category.
Hospice, now known as Over My Dead Body, in October 2017 at 18th & Union.
Grief Dialogues: The Play opened the Seattle Death Salon in September 2017. In June 2018, the original cast performed the show in the Seattle area to sold out crowds.
2017, Seattle Death Salon opening night of Grief Dialogues: The Play
Since then, the play, or a portion of the play, has been performed in New York for the Dramatists Guild National Conference, and in Las Vegas (to honor the First Responders on the anniversary for the Las Vegas shooting), and in Portland, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Los Angeles and in the UK, as well virtually performed for Reimagine: Life, Loss, Love.
Untold, UW Center for Health Sciences, 2020
Elizabeth produced the Overcoming Womxn Play Festival in Seattle 2019 where she debuted her short play Untold. Untold has since been performed for the University of Washington Center for Health Sciences, for Reimagine, and at the Beautiful Dying Expo in 2020.
Honoring Choices PNW commissioned Elizabeth to write the play Honoring Choices for a live performance in February 2020.
Since the COVID 19 shutdown, Honoring Choices has been performed on Zoom numerous times with three different casts including an all African-American cast and a Latinx cast (in Spanish).
Honoring Choices casts
Her newest play, Independence Day, a collaboration with playwright/actor Jeffrey Grover, was filmed and recently screened at the Western Region Aging Life Care Conference.
Independence Day, Short Play
Better Together/Juntos Nos Ayudamos filming
Elizabeth has also written, directed, and produced a play and film titled Better Together/Juntos Nos Ayudamos about Latino Suicide Survivor Loss with Dr. Nina Enriquez at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Elizabeth is the Executive Producer of the film 8 AM, based on the play by Mark Harvey Levine. 8 AM won several awards for selection including the Seattle International Film Festival, Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, Anchorage Film Festival, Byron Bay Festival (Australia), Cleveland International Film Festival, and YES Film Festival in Columbus, IN.
She is now working with Dr. Jessica Zitter on a new play. Extreme Measures is an adaptation of Dr. Zitter’s book by the same name.
Even before becoming a playwright and producer, Elizabeth never lost her early love of theatre. She is a financial patron of Seattle theatre and a current board member of the Intiman where she serves as the Strategic Planning Chair.
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