by Nicole Negron
From the Great White Way to the Vestal Parkway, assistant professor of theatre Elizabeth Mozer is giving back the knowledge that has made her successful.
"I've always loved the classroom," Mozer says. "As a place of growth, experimentation and personal research, so all through my professional career I've continued to study. I find the classroom such a fruitful place for both the teacher and student."
A SUNY Brockport alumna, Mozer is a firm believer in the SUNY system. When she first saw the description of the teaching position at Harpur College that required someone proficient in the Meisner acting technique, devising original theater, teaching physical theater, acting and directing — all of which she is more than skilled in — she knew she was a perfect fit for the job.
"The other professors here in the Theatre Department are so warm, organized, clear in what they are looking for and they have the students' best interests in mind," Mozer says. "They allow me to do my work and are very respectful. When I got the offer to work here, I was very excited."
Mozer received a master's in theater arts with a concentration in performance pedagogy from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to her teaching career, she had the opportunity to perform in television commercials, dance companies and business theater. In addition to these accomplishments, Mozer was cast in three original Broadway shows: "Teddy & Alice," "Victor/Victoria" and "Dangerous Games."
"These were all original productions, so I was there from the beginning," she says. "I was involved in the process of the making of the shows, which was really terrific."
Mozer did not come from a family involved in the dance or arts world, but she was supported with dance and acting classes that allowed her to build upon her strengths.
"My first dance recital was at the age of 7," she says. "And my first acting role was at the age of 12. I just kept going from there."
Rather than having a foot in the door, Mozer worked her way up independently. She gave advice for aspiring performers: "Always do your best. Know that if you don't get cast in something, you may not be right for that show. If you do your best, those directors and casting people will remember you."
Despite her accomplishments, Mozer says she knew she had to constantly work hard to stand out.
"I found out when I started competing in New York that I didn't have the same kind of technical training as my colleagues and fellow artists," she says. "So I still had to continue to train pretty intensely all through my professional career to maintain a competitive level of expertise. I might not have been the best, but would often be at the top of the list that didn't get in. Someone would drop out or couldn't take the job, so I was the first one they'd call. If you're on time, show up prepared, and show you're serious about what you're doing, it gets noticed."
Mozer auditioned for her first show, "Teddy & Alice," after seeing a newspaper listing. She went to an open call and did not have an agent submission, but her determination and talent landed her the role. Her second show, "Dangerous Games," required especially demanding choreography, but this was not Mozer's biggest issue.
"I was the last one left auditioning and they told me the time frame," she says. "When I told them I was getting married, they told me I might want to look at my schedule because it was the lead role in a Broadway show. So I started the rehearsals in New York, went out to California, flew back home for the weekend of my wedding then went back again. They let me out of just one day of rehearsal and that was the biggest deal — even though I had a valid reason!"
Next semester, Mozer will be teaching a course that has never been offered before — physical acting — and has plans to take on a number of other inventive new courses.
"One is an on-camera acting class and the other is devising original ensemble theater," she says. "Those are some of the things I want to bring into the Theatre Department. I'm looking forward to creating new work with students, but also developing some of my own projects and performing them here at the University or in the community. I'd also like to work with other departments to cross-pollinate theatre and other disciplines."
Last Updated: 12/10/14