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Ellen Kaplan

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Ellen W. Kaplan is Professor of Acting and Directing, a Fulbright Scholar in Costa Rica, and Fulbright Senior Specialist in Romania and Hong Kong. She has been Guest Professor at Tel Aviv University, Hong Kong University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Costa Rica, and the University of Theatre and Film in Bucharest, Romania. Ellen performs and directs internationally, including in China at Shenyang Normal University; in Israel at the Khan, Sherover and Jerusalem Theatres and Hebrew University; and (in Spanish) in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. She continues to act and direct at home; most recent role was Silda in New Century Theatre's production of Other Desert Cities.

In 2012, Ellen curated, directed and performed in plays by incarcerated men, staged at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. She also wrote, directed and continues to perform in Grain of the Wood, about Justine Wise Polier, a powerful judicial activist and important Jewish voice in the 20th century.

Ellen's plays have been performed at Theatre Matrix, LA; Cleveland Public Theatre; Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, and in Ireland, Israel, and Romania; her play Cast No Shadow, about the legacies of the Holocaust, premiered at the Jewish State Theater of Bucharest. Her play about living in Israel during the 2nd intifada, Pulling Apart, was a finalist for the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, and was produced in New Haven, where it received a Moss Hart Award. Her plays were twice named as Finalists for the Massachusetts Playwriting Fellowship. With Dream Awakened Eyes, based on the work of Charlotte Salomon, has been performed in the US and in Romania. She translated stories from Cuentos de Eva Luna by Isabel Allende and adapted them for the stage, and currently is performing her translation of David de Sola's La Nieta del Dictador.

Media work includes video documentaries, including “Whose Home” about women, tradition and the home; and "Mixed Blessings," about Jews and Gypsies (Roma) in Eastern Europe; radio dramas, and a CD ROM on Mexican writer Juan Rulfo.

Publications include a book, Images of Mental Illness in Text and Performance; essays in Jewish History, Theatre Topics, Studies in Theatre and Performance, among others; a book chapter (translated into Chinese) in a volume about directing Cao Yu’s masterpiece, The Wilderness; and a book chapter (in Spanish) on the work of Argentinian playwright Nora Glickman. Her essay on theatre and trauma will be published in Performing Psychologies (Methuen, 2017). Her poetry and creative non-fiction work appears in Our Voices: An Anthology of Jewish Women's Writing; The Deronda Review, Voices Project, MomEgg, WordMyth and Songs of Eretz; she recently completed a memoir. What Happens to the Body, about growing up in the shadow of mental illness and learning to grow past shame.

Ellen is active in theatre outreach; recent projects include theatre work with incarcerated mothers, adolescents in Holyoke, MA, and a project with adjudicated teens to create spoken word drama for radio. She taught a Presidential Seminar on women and violence at the Chicopee Women’s Correctional Facility with incarcerated women and Smith students (based on the acclaimed Inside/Out pedagogy.) Over the past year she has developed friendships across the country with Death Row inmates and men and women sentenced to life without parole. Their voices form part Ellen’s latest play, Someone Is Sure To Come, which will be presented at Smith, and again in Brooklyn NY, this fall.