Creativity and Self-Discovery with Ellen Kaplan

Ellen Kaplan
Ellen Kaplan

Ellen Kaplan is an actress, writer, and director, and professor emerita of acting and directing at Smith College. She performs and directs internationally, in places like Pakistan, China, Israel, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Puerto Rico, and she recently edited the new book Theater Responds to Social Trauma: Chasing the Demons. Ellen joins me to talk about her work in and out of the classroom, dealing with “the shoulds,” how easy it is to get in our own way, why we are each a culture unto ourselves, what we’ve each learned from our students, and more.

00:00 Introduction

03:15 Self-discovery through teaching experiences

08:42 Importance of humility, listening, and respect

12:27 Cultural differences observed while teaching ESL

18:15 Embracing individuality in students

22:30 Influence of “should” on decision-making

28:05 Pressure of being an expert vs. staying open to learning

34:14 Value of revision in the creative process

38:50 Saying yes in improv and life

44:35 Creating healing spaces through storytelling

48:52 Career serendipity and intrinsic experiences

54:18 Commodification’s impact on creativity

58:23 Kitsugi and the beauty of imperfections

01:03:41 Ellen’s work in conflict zones and peace efforts

01:09:56 Improvisational recalculating of identity and work

Read this week’s article, on how Apple accidentally told the truth about technology and creativity, here.

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Want more? Here’s a handy playlist with all my previous interviews with guests in theatre.

Show links

Ellen’s new book: Theater Responds to Social Trauma: Chasing the Demons

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