Welcome to the 2019 Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed Conference Schedule!

Aaron Ellis

Florida State University School of Theatre / School of Dance
Aaron Ellis is a PhD Candidate in Florida State University (FSU) School of Theatre. In his dissertation research, Ellis uses ethnographic methods to study the Bronx-based work of an Italy-based theatre company, the Open Program of the Workcenter of J. Grotowski and T. Richards. He holds a BA from Baylor University’s Great Texts Honors program, and an MA in Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy, from FSU’s Department of Religion. He is a teacher, speaker, organizer, activist, and multidisciplinary performance artist, whose academic work dovetails with his political activity and community engagement. Ellis has worked with activist initiatives, including Occupy Tallahassee, Jewish Voice for Peace, FSU Progress Coalition, and Students for Justice in Palestine. In 2013, he co-organized a social justice symposium: Act! Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice, Academy and Community. Since then, he has produced and co-produced a number of performance showcases and all-day festivals raisingawareness about political issues and featuring local performers and visual artists, most recently Performing Resistance (October 2018) at 621 Art Gallery in Tallahassee, Florida. He has organized conference panels and presented papers at a wide range of U.S. and international venues. He volunteer-taught Poetry and Performance classes at Gadsden Women’s Correctional Facility for two years, and for five years, he worked with The Mickee Faust Club, an LGBTQ++ / (dis)Ability theatre in Tallahassee, including as Assistant to the Executive Director (2016-2018).   Ellis currently serves as Assistant Director for FSU’s Center for Participant Education (CPE), a Bureau of FSU Student Government.  Since 1970, CPE has been a part of the Radical and Free School Movements, supporting non-hierarchical, peer-to-peer educational programming ranging from art and dance, consensus facilitation and direct action workshops, to DIY skill-shares and classes on political and ethical issues.  Ellis now collaborates with his colleague, Bridget Close, developing embodied research practices across artistic and academic disciplines, grounded in radical ethics. PTO Experience:  As a child, my father taught at Maryknoll, a hub for liberation theology in North America.  Since that time I have had continued engagements with liberationists’ writing as well as their live presence in my life.  Deep personal ties connect me to liberationists including Gustavo Gutierrez and the late Otto Maduro.  I have experienced, and read the literature about, interventions from within the field of Liberation Theology  (e.g. Santiago Slabodsky and Ivan Petrellas) as well as from a critical vantage beyond the discipline (Ada María Isasi-Díaz), liberationist thought and considerations of orthopraxis have been at the heart of my intellectual and existential development.   As I developed interest in the performing arts, Augusto Boal’s work and legacy deeply influenced my trajectory. TO provided me with a framework to articulate my preferential option for the poor and marginalized in explicitly theatrical contexts.  TO work has featured heavily in my historical and theoretical work in the field of Theatre Studies in academic papers, performance projects, my Comprehensive Exams for my PhD, and now in my ethnographic methodology for my Dissertation (see Quetzil Castañeda’s use of “invisible theatre” as a category to direct ethnographic research). In my capacity as Co-President for Students for Justice in Palestine at FSU, I had the opportunity to co-organize Palestine- and POC-specific TO workshops by Donkey Saddle Productions, a theatrical production company touring There is a Field, written, directed, and brought to Tallahassee by Jen Marlowe, accompanied by her actors and Ahmad Abuznaid, co-founder of Dream Defenders.  But beyond one-off workshops like this, my exposure to TO practice and practitioners has been limited to one-off workshops and conventional conference paper presentations.   My liberationist focus has been the thread tying my work together since my childhood, and has followed me in my “adult” life as I shifted fields of study, methods of activist advocacy.  I am excited that this will be the first time for me to experience a full conference focused on PTO methodologies and practices by practitioners, especially the pre-conference workshop.