Peter Ellenstein, Educator
Since 1982, Peter has taught theatre at the professional, graduate, collegiate and
high school level. Venues range from professional private classes to academic institutions
of various shapes and sizes. Peter served as Interim Artistic Director at the Gretna Theatre
in Pennsylvania for the summer of 2016 and returned to direct a new Musical in 2017. Peter
was a Visiting Assistant Professor and Interim Artistic Director for the Jerry Herman Ring
Theatre at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Peter created both a professional
playwriting certificate program and, as Director of Theatre, an ensemble-driven two-year training
program at the William Inge Center for the Arts at Independence Community College.
He has innovated many programs, blending professional and academic theatre in partnership with
Lincoln Center Institute, KCACTF, EDTA, the 24-Hour Plays and other educational institutions.
Peter has presented workshops at colleges, high schools, conferences and festivals throughout the country.
Peter’s aesthetic began to form very early. He was raised, in Los Angeles, in a theatrical household, headed by his father, noted actor/director/artistic director and acting teacher Robert Ellenstein. The house was filled with professional actors, directors, playwrights and producers. The dinner table was a crucible of artistic ideas, where every play, film, television program, song, book, painting or sculpture was inspected, dissected and argued about. Peter began attending work calls and visiting film and TV sets from the time he was five.
Peter’s training background is diverse. He began studying theatre in earnest at the age of thirteen with John Frank Levey at the Academy of Stage and Cinema Arts and attended American Conservatory Theatre at sixteen. He then went on to study acting with Stella Adler, Mary Carver, Paul Sills and his father over the next many years. Peter’s mentor in musical theatre performance was the renowned David Craig (seven years off and on), whose teaching videos Peter helped to produce. Other teachers of note were Peg Hatch Dieterle (singing), Robert Easton (accents & dialects), Janet Eilber (dance) & Michael Frederick (Alexander Technique).
Peter appeared in his first professional play at 15 (with Ed Harris), and performed in film and television from age eighteen. Peter started both teaching and directing at age 21. He transitioned to the other side of the footlights completely by his early thirties, when he revived the Los Angeles Repertory Company and served as Producing Director for seven years, directing and producing award-winning plays (including the LA premier of Assassins), founding a professional conservatory for working actors, developing new plays and creating a childrens’ theatre tour.
Peter took a brief break from his artistic leadership positions to return to school to earn a BA in theatre from Thomas Edison State College in 1998 and an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2001, following which he began his tenure at the Inge Center. Peter’s education continues, as he learns from all of his collaborators and taking workshops and classes. He believes the artist’s learning process is never through and curiosity is a very powerful creative engine.