Ellen Kaplan

Short Biography

Ellen W. Kaplan is professor of acting and directing at Smith, a Fulbright Scholar in Costa Rica, Fulbright Senior Specialist in Romania and Hong Kong, an actress, director and playwright. She performs, directs and teaches internationally, most recently in Portugal.  She has been guest professor at Tel Aviv University; Hong Kong University, where she was a distinguished scholar/ writer-in-residence; the Chinese University of Hong Kong; University of Costa Rica; Heredia University (Costa Rica); and the University of Theatre and Film in Bucharest, Romania. During the pandemic, she taught virtual classes at Rojava University in Syria.

Recent directing credits: Noel Coward’s Private Lives at Hedgerow Theatre; Turn of the Screw; Lungs; The Tattooed Man; and a radio production of The Foxfinder for Silverthorne Theatre; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at Smith College; a virtual production of Julius Caesar; and The Magic Flute for the University of Massachusetts Amherst Opera Workshop. Recent acting work includes David de Sola’s La Nieta del Dictador, touring to Puerto Rico and the Midwest, and La Razon Blindada by Aristides Vargas, in Spanish.

Kaplan works extensively with underserved communities and at-risk groups, including eight years with Arts in Special Education in Pennsylvania; theatre workshops pre-GED literacy training; with women in prison, and death row inmates. Her book chapter, “Cry Without an Echo,” on creativity and trauma, was published in Performing Psychologies (Methuen) in 2019. Other publications include Images of Mental Illness on Stage, and book chapters, including work published in China (translated into Chinese); a chapter in Spanish about Argentinian playwright Nora Glickman; an essay in Jewish History about contemporary Jewish playwrights; and in Teaching the Israel-Palestine Conflict, ed. Rachel Harris. Currently, she is working on a volume of essays, Chasing the Demons: Theatre Responds to Social Trauma, published by Routledge, and an essay about Jewish American theatre will be published in Imagined Israel.

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