Paul Ellis is a veteran of community-based performance. As early as the 1970’s Ellis was directing and writing for several Street Theater companies in New York, New Jersey and Kansas. He received his first federal grant to direct and write theater based on the stories of the live of senior citizens. He developed technique for improvising true stories and making them into theatrical presentations. In that two and a half year period he was able to write and produce three plays with three different senior communities. At the same time he was working with NYU’s Galeton Division of Geriatric Arts refining these techniques for building plays through the stories of participants’ lives. Ellis has gone on to refine these methods working with professional, community, and student workshops. Many theatrical groups and artists use these techniques today.
While experimenting with community-performance and “reality” theater Ellis direct over 100 plays. He also produce numerous community wide festivals include sixteen Frist Night Arts celebrations, involving numerous community based arts projects and performances. Many of the projects Mr. Ellis has undertaken require yearlong residencies and collaborations with organizations and individual artists. Some of those artists include Sarah Teofanov, Charlee Swanson, and Reggie Workman.
He also wrote 16 plays for The Air Pirates Radio Theater, which were produced and aired from 2005 to 20013. Ellis has also consulted with Government in areas of community-arts development including Bergen County, New Jersey, Orange County and the City of Newburgh in New York.
Most recently Ellis has returned to the Living Newspaper format as inspiration for play development. Modernizing the form to accommodate the speed of technology and social media’s ability to make everyone an “expert”. In 2011 Ellis conducted a Living Newspaper workshop with students at the Lycian Center in Sugar Loaf and he has conducted play writing/Living Newspaper workshops at Chester Academy for the past two Spring semesters.
This year he began work with the Actors Workshop Ensemble, a professional acting company making its home in the Historic AME Church in Warwick, NY. This past summer AWE produced the Skriker and Love and Information both by Caryl Churchill. This fall AWE began work on Confabulation, a community based performance scheduled for production in August of 2017.