Experimental playwright and puppeteer Erik Ehn will visit Amherst College to discuss experimental art practices which use strange or unknowable images and texts to address trauma and recover historical memory, specifically touching on his own work.
Ehn holds the position of director of writing for performance at Brown University. He is an artistic associate at Theatre of Yugen, a graduate of New Dramatists and a former dean of the CalArts School of Theater.
Ehn’s work is imbued with a passionate interest in social issues. He conducts annual trips to Rwanda/Uganda, taking students and professionals in the field to study the history of these countries and to explore the ways art is participating in recovery from violence. He also annually produces the Arts in the One World conference, which engages themes of art and social change.
He says of his work: “My interest is in populations at risk, or responding to violence or to kinds of brokenness; people farming the extreme edges of spirituality. Those are the kind of situations that demand a play. […]
“I’m very joyful as a writer. The subject matter is difficult, but I have such faith in the ongoing conversation and in the community that builds around social idealism that writing is light for me, even though it’s serious.”
Ehn’s work includes "The Saint Plays," "No Time Like the Present," "Wolf at the Door," "Tailings," "Beginner," and "Ideas of Good and Evil." The "Soulographie" project, recently premiered at La MaMa in New York City (November 2012) is a series of 17 plays written over 20 years, on the history of the U.S. in the 20th century from the point of view of its genocides. His works have been produced in San Francisco (Intersection, Thick Description, Yugen), Seattle (Annex, Empty Space), Austin (Frontera), New York (BACA, Whitney Museum), San Diego (Sledgehammer), Chicago (Red Moon), Atlanta (7 Stages), Los Angeles (Cal Rep, Museum of Jurassic Technology), Belgrade (Dah) and elsewhere. He has taught at the University of Iowa, Naropa, UC San Diego, UT Dallas and Cal Arts (graduate), the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Santa Clara University and Skidmore College (undergrad).
"Art in Place / the Place of Art" is a one-year interdisciplinary arts series at Amherst College which explores the myriad relationships that the arts have with place, and how artistic practice helps to shape our senses of place, identity, communities, cultures, institutions and conversations. It is organized by faculty from the Departments of Art and the History of Art, Music and Theater and Dance, as well as the Mead Art Museum and Frost Library.