In earlier years, as primarily a solo performer, I was captivated by the magic of small figures. Now I integrate the power, clarity, and conviction of solo performance with the expressive capabilities of an ensemble. I love the grandeur of the larger forms and the intensity of many people focusing their energy on stage.
I vary the scale of performances and the way of presenting them. Because the content of each show inspires me to work with different techniques and materials, no two shows truly resemble each other, although there are thematic and stylistic similarities. I work with humanist themes, the search for Utopia, and the idea that the commonality between people is greater than our differences. Although I combine comedy and parody with serious subjects, my work is thought-provoking. I like to challenge preconceived notions and to show life from different perspectives.
I have been experimenting with layering in shadow imagery: overlapping transparencies on the overhead projector, with actors in front of and behind the screen, and creating shadows within shadows. In the show “microcosm / MACROCOSM”, I added a new dimension with video sequences. I am also exploring non-linear ways of storytelling in theatre performances and video sequences such as REFRACTIONS. I have expanded upon these techniques in these shows and in Shadows & Journeys, a large multi-media performance for spectacular outdoor settings, and most recently in THE ODYSSEY.
Betsy Tobin first became involved in theatre through playwriting at Dartmouth College, where she wrote and produced two plays and also directed the first one. Pursuing an interest in puppet theatre, she then worked with the Seattle Puppetory Theatre for three years.
Betsy Tobin performed original productions integrating acting, puppetry, shadows, and mask theatre throughout Europe in theatres, cultural centers, and dozens of festivals in France, England, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Switzerland. In Europe she created and toured several solo shows for adults, quickly emerging to the forefront in puppetry festivals and performance circuits with her distinctive style as one of the only female solo puppeteers. She also collaborated with the French company, Atelier de l’Arcouest. Ms. Tobin received numerous awards for her shows: The Night of Sisyphus and King of Straw / Roi de Paille (which she also wrote and illustrated), published in Paris by GES Editions.
In July 1992, Betsy Tobin moved to Boulder, Colorado, to found the Now Or Never Theatre. She has performed nationwide, most extensively in Washington State and in Colorado. She has also studied screenwriting and story structure and written three screenplays.
In 2003 Betsy Tobin was selected as an Associate Member of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute and considered “one of the most creative individuals the Institute has ever encountered.” In 1994 and 2004, Betsy received the Theatre Fellowship for the Boulder County Arts Alliance/Neodata Endowment. She is a member of the Mariposa Collective, an innovative group of performance artists creating site specific multi-media events and performances such as “Moonstories” (2004) and the “Fringe Finale” (2005). In 2008, Betsy Tobin performed in "River Story", directed by Margarita Blush.
Across 12 time zones, Betsy Tobin has presented more than 1,000 performances to more than 100,000 people of all ages. She has performed in over 40 festivals and received over 25 grants from various arts organizations. She has performed in world capitals and prestigious festivals, in miniature puppet theatres, farmer’s markets, and hilltop churches in tiny European vilages. She has played a broad array of characters from Zeus, Gaia, Nasruddin, and Guinevere to a witch, a buffalo, a shaman, and a deer.
She created a series of short videos called REFRACTIONS (which can stand by themselves or be accompanied by live actors and dancers in a multi-media production) and continued her multi-media explorations in SHADOWS & JOURNEYS, a large multi-media show for spectacular outdoor settings, and THE ODYSSEY, a visually stunning adaptation of Homer's epic poem.