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1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Feb 6, 2010

I Interview Playwrights Part 115: Erik Ehn

Photo Credit Kagami 

Erik Ehn

Hometown: Dallas

Current Town: Providence

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  15 play cycle on the history of 20th century America through the lens of genocide. Soulographie.

Q:  Can you talk a little about "Arts in the One World"?

A:  Fifth iteration. Follow up to rat. Building an ensemble/conversation around art for social change in international community. Draft (draft!) agenda attached.

Draft Agenda 12/30/09

Home: Composing the Rooted Local in the Rapid Global Environment

How the arts and social services compose, consider, and translate community

We are looking at how the sense of home – the ways it is defined and enacted – is useful as a political and esthetic argument for fidelity, trust, immanence, the safe store of memory and the reconstitution of identity. (As against? in dialogue with? industry and the nation-state.)

AOW is an annual gathering; this is our fifth convening. We pull together students, faculty, practitioners and activists across disciplines, from immediate and international communities, framing presentations and conversations open to the school and the general public. We explore various ways artistic, political, and historical purposes intersect (through reconciliation, the recovery of historical memory, and advocacy for justice).

Our partner in hosting the conference is the Interdisciplinary Genocide Study Center (Rwanda) – where the Tutsi Genocide is researched, testimony is gathered, negationism is resisted, and social space for survivors is afforded.

Wednesday, March 17
2-5 Keynote presentation: Chinua Achebe in Conversation (R+R)
5-6 Conference introductions: History and overview
6-7:30 Dinner
7:30 Performance

Thursday, March 18 – Rwanda/Uganda: The Current Scene
8-8:30 Coffee
8:30-9 Reflections and Forecasts
9-10:30 IGSC Report
10:30-11 Break
11-12:30 IGSC Session 2
12:30-2 Lunch
2-4 Keynote Speakers: Hope Azeda, Carole Karemera
4-4:30 Break
4:30-6 Panel: Arts, service initiatives: Africa/Africa-US
4:30-6 Film: Jen Marlowe – Rebuilding Hope
6-7:30 Dinner
7:30-10 Performances, Presentations:
Jill Pribylova: Okulamba Dance Company
Colleen Wagner: The Monument
Film: Abigail Disney – Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Friday, March 19 – Palestine, Israel, The Mid-East: Conversations
8-8:30 Coffee
8:30-9 Reflections and Forecasts
9-12:30 Workshop: BoxWhatBox (Part A)
9-12:30 Panel: Becoming a Diasporic Cluster
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-3:30 Presentations, with Q+A:
A: Lisa Schelssinger, Ed Mast, Laura Zam: from Collaterally Damaged
B: Guitta Tahmassebi: Operation Blackout, Michael Devine: Divided Territories: Making Theatre in Kosovo, Joanna Sherman, Michael McGuigan: Bond Street projects
C: Story Circle, facilitated by Devorah Neumark
3:30-4 Break
4-5:30 Conversation:
Rula Awwad-Rafferty, Neery E. Melkonian, Dorit Cypis: on Zochrot and the Nakba, incl. Norma Musih: on the town of Sumeil
5:30-7:30 Dinner
7:30-10 Performances:
Michael Anthony Reyes Benavides, Luis Rosa: Crime Against Humanity
Lauren Weedman: Bust (tent.)

Saturday, March 20: Opening out
[All day: Film Festival – shown on a rolling basis throughout the day.]
8-8:30 Coffee
8:30-9 Reflections and Forecasts – Yesterday, today
9-12:30 Performance Workshops:
Elaine Avila, Kate Weiss
Michael Devine – BoxWhatBox (Part B)
9-10:30 Concurrent Roundtables:
Systems (Theaters, Collectives, Social Initiatives)
Groups A and B
Special Topics:
A: Actions for the Individual Artist
B: Art and Personal Identity/Healing
C: Art and the Living Archive
10:30-11 Break
11-12:30 Concurrent Roundtables:
Systems (Theaters, Collectives, Social Initiatives)
Groups A and B
Special Topics:
A: Students and Activism
B: Cultural Diplomacy
12:30-2 Lunch
2-4 Concurrent Roundtables:
The Local and International in Continuum
Groups A, B, C, D
The Generations Project
4-4:30 Break
4:30-6:30 Concurrent Panels:
A: Art and Peacebuilding
B: The Visual Arts
Presentation:  Lili Bernard: Ceiba De Cuba
8-10 Performances:
Hector Aristizabal
Sandeep Bagwati: Transience
Paula Cizmar, Carol Mack: Seven, and Cklara Moradian: Tamam
Laura Zam: Collaterally Damaged

Sunday, March 21
8-8:30 Coffee
8:30-9 Reflections and Forecast
9-10:30 Panel: Storytelling Now
10:30-11 Break
11-1 Panel: Home and Homelessness
1-2:30 Lunch, Review, and Planning

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  I was seven, I was fat. I dove into a life preserver at a public pool, got stuck. Drowning, upside down - pulled out and the only way to get the preserver off was to take my shorts off in plain view. Art!

Q:  You are now the head of the playwriting program at Brown.  What are your plans for the playwrights who will be studying there?

A:  Have them write a lot. Write with an awareness of the whole U, the town, the region, etc. - To accept responsiblity as community organizers. To advocate for joy, even the joy of outrage.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  The kind that happens. What Abdoh was; community theater, anything that involves terrified people doing terrible things, or delighted people infecting the unsuspecting with delight. So, I guess, contagion.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Get sleep, watch nutrition, stay strong and stay in trouble otherwise. Writing is a license to intrude, anywhere.

Q:  Any plugs?:

A:  Arts in the One World. Come on by!


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