July 9, 2013
Ellen Gavin is currently working as a writer/director in Los Angeles. She is the author of numerous screenplays, teleplays and plays that have garnering national awards; she has received numerous travel and residency fellowships nationally and internationally. Recently she was a staff writer on a eighteen-episode Nicaraguan drama entitled Contracorriente, currently broadcasting on major networks throughout Latin America. Her feature romantic comedy, G.P.S. I Love You will be produced and directed by British filmmaker Pratibha Parmar (Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2008), Khush (1991), Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth (2013) of Kali Films. Ellen’s last play Stardust and Empty Wagons, chronicled the experience of 25 Katrina survivors and was accompanied live by the renowned Hot Eight Brass Band of New Orleans. Gavin was one of the first female firefighters in the San Diego Fire Department, inspiring her first play, The Roof’s on Fire! and a one-hour dramatic pilot, Walk Under Ladders. She spent three years as a professional municipal firefighter/EMT, working at one of the busiest stations in the city.
For over two decades, Gavin was the Founding Artistic Director of the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco, a nationally-recognized theater serving women and playwrights of color. She led a $6 million capital campaign to purchase and renovate the historic vaudeville York Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District into a state-of-of-the-art theater complex (with 400 and 100 seat theaters) serving a broad audience. She collaborated on the renovation design in two phases with modernist architects Mark Cavagnero and Anne Fougeron. The completed Brava Theater Center won numerous awards including the AIA No. California Design Award and the International Neon Competition for marquee designer Fernando Duarte; it was featured on the cover of Contract Magazine.
Over more than two decades of her artistic leadership, Gavin acted as producer for hundreds of World Premiere productions including premieres by Suzan Lori-Parks, Cherrie Moraga, Culture Clash, Gillian Slovo, Eve Ensler, Diana Son, Joan Holden, Kate Rigg, and many others. She presented internationally-recognized musicians such as Lesley Gore, Trio Los Panchos, Ojos de Brujo, Teague and Sarah, Lila Downs, Ely Guerra, Ritchie Havens, Janis Ian and Ismael Serrano. The Brava Theater Academy’s educational activities were groundbreaking–including DramaDIVAS, the first LGBT youth theater in the country, S.F. Running Crew, which taught at-risk youth technical theater skills, and Brava! for Literacy, which used theater as a tool to improve reading. Gavin was the recipient of the LAVA Award, Focus Magazine’s Artistic Achievement Award, the Bay Guardian Local Hero Award and GOLDie Local Discovery Awards, numerous national awards and travel fellowships to Cuba, Mexico and Central America. In 2008, Mayor Gavin Newsom declared Ellen Gavin Day, in honor of her two decades of service to San Francisco’s cultural life.