John Collins

Fellow: Awarded 2010

Field of Study: Drama and Performance Art

Competition: US & Canada

John Collins is the founder and artistic director of Elevator Repair Service (ERS), a New York City-based ensemble that creates original works for live theater. A native of Vidalia, Georgia, Collins graduated cum laude from Yale in 1991, with a B.A. in Theater Studies and English Literature.

Under Collins’ direction, Elevator Repair Service builds theater performances from a variety of sources that include found text, amateur video, film, literature, and ensemble-generated choreography. Finished productions clash high-tech and low-tech design and mix disparate texts and forms to create live performances that are propelled by humor, narrative, pathos, and controlled chaos. ERS has cultivated a large following in New York and throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia.

As artistic director of ERS, John has directed or co-directed over seventy domestic and international productions of fifteen original full-length ERS works. Recent work includes Gatz (New York premiere at The Public Theater, 2010), The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928) (New York Theatre Workshop, 2008), and The Sun Also Rises (premiering at The Edinburgh International Festival in 2010).

John and ERS are recipients of the 2009 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant. John is also the recipient of a Bessie Award for Visual Design (ERS’ Room Tone) and was nominated for an Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director (Gatz).

ERS is the recipient of TCG’s Peter Zeisler Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement; The Zurich Theater Spektakel ZKB-Acknowledgement Prize (Gatz), an Elliot Norton Award nomination for Outstanding Visiting Production (Gatz); a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Outstanding Play (The Sound and the Fury); and a Helpmann Award nomination for Best Play (Gatz).

John's work with ERS is documented in Sara Jane Bailes' book Performance Theatre and the Poetics of Failure (Routledge, 2010) and in her chapter on the company's work in Making Contemporary Theatre: International Rehearsal Processes (MUP, 2010)

Elevator Repair Service is company-in-residence at New York Theatre Workshop.