Paul Foster Meets Ellen Stewart

Paul Foster Meets Ellen Stewart

Paul Foster grew up in a small Quaker town in New Jersey, then moved to New York City in 1954 to attend the NYU School of Law, but this artistic-minded man was not cut out to be an attorney. “I started to thrash around for a career that would be good for me and I accidentally ran into Ellen Stewart,” Foster said. “I had never known a black woman before. I grew up in a totally white environment, not even realizing it, and, well, she educated me in the current thinking. We hit it off right off the bat. She was just a wonderful creature. I admired Ellen so much. We became extremely good friends.” Foster mentioned to Ellen that he had written some plays but never had anything published because he was too busy going to college and law school. She told him, “If you’d help me build a stage, we’ll put it on.” He thought, Well, why not? “It was a kind of crazy idea. She was on unemployment at the time and had rented the basement space in the East Village, in a Ukrainian neighborhood.”

From Chapter 6 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


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