In 2001, several lecturers in other languages joined Dr. Ellis in creating the INTERNATIONAL PLAYHOUSE, a unique project that offers multilingual theater on the same bill, with English super-titles, performed primarily by Language students. The first year's program consisted of pieces in Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Japanese. In subsequent years, Russian, Spanish, and Latin were added at different times, with the 2006 season consisting of seven languages: Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. In 2012, a record number of 8 languages was presented in two programs of 4 languages each, with students of Greek participating for the first time. In 2014, Hebrew joined the roster, along with Chinese, Russian, French, and Spanish. Thus, since its inception, participants in the Playhouse have performed in 11 of the languages available at UCSC.
In 2012, Cowell Provost Faye Crosby and community supporter Faye Alexander spearheaded an effort to establish an endowment for the IP. Their goal was successfully reached in 2014, bringing with it the renaming of the theater as the Miriam Ellis International Playhouse (MEIP).
Over the course of fourteen seasons, students have performed in works that range from traditional medieval pieces, to classical theater of the 17th and 18th century, to modern plays from the theater of the absurd and other contemporary styles. Faculty directors and their student casts have frequently collaborated to create and present original works.
The production staff of the MEIP includes Miriam Ellis and Sakae Fujita, co-producers. In the past, actively participating directors, Jacqueline Ku (Chinese), Judith Harris-Frisk (German), William Nickell ( Russian), and Paco Ramirez (Spanish), staged works on a regular basis. Current long-time directors include Giulia Centineo (Italian), Miriam Ellis (French), Sakae Fujita (Japanese) and Marta Navarro (Spanish). Ting-Ting Wu (Chinese) and Natalya Samokhina (Russian) have joined the roster more recently and are a welcome addition to the Playhouse.
In order to make MEIP programs accessible to audiences, English titles for each language segment are projected above the stage. In recent years, videos of several of the pieces have been made available on YouTube and may be viewed by searching UCSC International Playhouse and the title of the desired work.