Behind the Scenes Theatre Memphis Helpers Earn Ostrander Award for Efforts

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Special to My Life (The Commercial Appeal)

By Randall Hartzog,


Patsy Kiefer (left) and Elsie Yeates were awarded the “Behind the Scenes” Award at the recent Ostrander Awards honoring the Memphis Theatre Community.   With more than 40 years of volunteer service to Theatre Memphis between the two of them, Patsy Kiefer and Elsie Yeates had it allsewn up. On Aug. 30, they received the Behind the Scenes Award at the 2008-09 Ostrander Awards Ceremony, sponsored by Contemporary Media and Memphis Magazine. They both have worked tirelessly to assist the Theatre Memphis resident costume designer, Andre Bruce Ward, with costumes that require draping, cutting, sewing and special handwork.   

Kiefer is a retired anesthesiologist with the Medical Anesthesia Group. She was introduced to the shop when she came to inquire about renting a costume. She had been looking for something to do to occupy her newly found free time after retirement.  "It has been a rewarding experience as service to the community and as ongoing personal training," she said.  

Yeates, a former biology and chemistry teacher at Hutchison, began sewing for Theatre Memphis more than 30 years ago. Though she had sewn for her family for years, upon her retirement from teaching Yeates founded a cottage industry for design and construction of children's clothes. "This is the happiest volunteer work I've ever done," Yeates said.  

Ward, who won a 2008-09 Ostrander for the costume design for TM's production of "Cyrano" said, "They are my right and left hands in the costume shop. I really depend on them. You could not ask for better support."  

Anyone interested in volunteering at the theater in the costume shop, scenic shop or for the backstage or front of the house crews should contact Amy Salerno Hale.