California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) president Steven D. Lavine announced that acclaimed dramatist Erik Ehn has been appointed Dean of CalArts School of Theater. He will begin his position on July 1, 2005. Currently, Ehn serves as director of CalArts Writing for Performance Program. He began teaching at the Institute in the 2002-03 academic year.
"Erik Ehn is a playwright with uncanny poetic gifts, a thinker of great subtlety and clarity, an inspired and profoundly generous teacher, and an activist nationally and internationally on behalf of a welcoming and inclusive theater," says Lavine. "He is hungry for a theater that plumbs the depth of human possibility. Under his leadership, I expect CalArts' School of Theater--which is already the most progressive in the United States--to educate a generation of visionary theater artists, who will bring grace and light to the most challenging and troubling issues of our time and of our human nature."
Ehn made his name as a playwright, dramatist and theorist of contemporary theater. His lyrical plays are composed of dense concentrated language and have been described as explosively imaginary. As a dramatist and educator, Ehn argues for an artistic community based on hospitality and service. He is a co-founder of the RAT movement, an international network of alternative theaters committed to getting work before audiences despite limited economic resources.
Before coming to CalArts, Ehn taught in a number of theater programs including those at the University of Iowa and Princeton University.
"CalArts stands at the head of the field at a time when the best is required from the arts in our communities, local and global," said Ehn. "The school, the region, is all heliotropically facing the future. It is a wonderful time to pursue the difficult, to gather belief, to act deeply rather than expediently, to perform with moral sacrifice rather than pragmatic desperation, and to build that which will endure (our ongoing rehearsal) over and against that which merely gets away with itself."
Ehn is currently collaborating with CalArts faculty member Janie Geiser on Invisible Glass. This multimedia work will employ puppets, live actors and film to explore the idea of the Doppelganger. Ehn's script for Invisible Glass is inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's short story William Wilson. It will premiere at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) on April 28, 2005 and run through May 1.
His most recent play, Maria Ktizito, is based on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and is the result of his research in that Central African country. Its premiere launched Atlanta's 7 Stages 2004-05 season.
Ehn is best known for The Saint Plays, an ongoing cycle of plays loosely based on the lives of the saints and biblical characters. His other plays include Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling, No Time Like the Present, Wolf at the Door, Tailings, Beginner, Ideas of Good and Evil, and an adaptation of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. His dramas have been produced in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, New York, San Diego, and Chicago. In 2004, he was dramaturge on the critically acclaimed Peach Blossom Fan, the inaugural production by CalArts Center for New Theater at REDCAT.