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Questions of Practice: Elevator Repair Service’s John Collins on Process in Theater-Making

John Collins, founder and artistic director of the ensemble theater company Elevator Repair Service, discusses the discovery process his ensemble engages in at the outset of a new theater piece. “In a certain way, we resist a notion of a repeatable process…We like to start out in a kind of blissful ignorance,” he says.

John Collins is founder and artistic director of Elevator Repair Service (ERS), a theater ensemble based in New York City. Characterized by its mash-up of high-and low-tech design, literary and found text, and innovative choreography, ERS has created theatrical adaptations of mainstays of American literature in GATZ, a real-time reading of The Great Gatsby; The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928), a take on the first chapter of the William Faulkner novel; and The Select (The Sun Also Rises), based on the Ernest Hemingway novel. In 2016, Collins served as a Pew Fellowships panelist.