Ben is originally from San Francisco, but has lived in New York City; Sydney, Australia; taught at the Australian Theatre for Young People and studied at the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia. Some of his favorite theater credits include Our Town at Green-wood Cemetery, Long Division which was part of the Midtown International Theater Festival, The Crucible, Mrs. Packard, The Marriage of Figaro, and The Good Person of Szechwan. Ben is also a writer with a body of work that has ranged from film and television to theater and sketch. Most recently, his original series Royally won the Critics Choice Award at New York Television Festival. His full-length plays include Beckett in Benghazi and Keltic Cross which were both originally produced by Less Than Rent Theatre Company. www.bendiserens.com
Tell us about a transformative educational experience.
I had a wonderful theater history teach in college named Morgan Jenness. She is a bit of a legend in the New York theatre world, having seemingly been involved in every significant piece of theatre produced in the last few decades. She always focused on how the best art reflects some intrinsic truth about human nature or society. She helped nurture my love of Shakespeare and how all of his plays capture the entirety of the human experience in one way or another.
What about transformative professional experiences?
I did a production of Our Town in Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. We performed amongst the headstones and tombs of this historic cemetery (very respectfully, of course). The combination of being in that setting and performing a play about appreciating life as it’s happening was something I’ll never forget.
Why I do what I do...
Storytelling and the power of community building through art.
What about ECT inspires you?
Collective work ethic. Knowing that everyone involved is focused on the same goal. To live as fearless artists and allowing ourselves permission to take huge risks to discover undeniable truths.
Where have you traveled? Where would you like to visit?
I spent parts of my life living in Sydney and New York. I’ve traveled to Moscow, London, Bangkok, Dubai, Kenya, Alaska, Rome, Cairo, Alexandria, Istanbul, Edinburgh. Last year I visited Bermuda and Austin. My dream next trips would be to either Japan or Ireland.
My favorite "day-off" event would be...
...planned around food. Wake up and make some of world famous scrambled eggs & bacon. Go for a nice long hike to help with the digestion followed by a bbq with family and friends. Great music, cold beer and hot food. I’m sure I’d wind down the evening by watching something on HBO.
If I had one million dollars I would...
...travel. It’s the only investment worth making. (Besides a 401k, I suppose)
Did you know...
...my maternal grandfather and I have almost identical birthmarks on our right middle finger.