Over the summer, Greensboro College lost a special member of the Pride. Matthew Ellis, aged 21, died from injuries he sustained at his summer job in Raleigh. He was a rising senior, a passionate student of theatre and a friend to many here at Greensboro College. Ellis was passionate about what he did, and his character shows today through conversations had with his teachers and peers.
Jo Hall, an associate professor of theatre, said, “I saw him grow while he was here. I was really looking forward to this final year with him to see where he would go. I could tell he loved being here, he found his people at GC.”
Hall was his director as well as one of his mentors during the time he spent at Greensboro College. Ellis auditioned for a show she was directing during the Spring of 2018, “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” in which he portrayed the character Val Slotsky, the Russian immigrant.
“He totally blossomed in that role,” said Hall. “He had a great ear for the accent. He would try anything I offered up, no hesitation.”
When asked about Ellis, people remember him fondly. A few recurring themes are the phrases, “a good kid” and “a gentle soul.” It seemed that his personality was a constantly positive one, a personality that understood people and had a love for those around him. Whenever a task was set upon him, he gave 100 percent of what he could to complete said task to the best of his abilities. Especially in theatre, where his passion lay, he was a go-getter. Whenever he was given a direction or a prompt, he would immediately begin working to improve himself.
Ellis was also someone who understood other people. He recognized that people had bad days, and some days they were more willing to cooperate than others. Whenever someone was rude or unkind to him, he would simply brush it off or take it with a grain of salt. He recognized that one never really knows what is going on in another person’s life, and was never quick to judge or wish negativity on another human being.
He was the kind of person who loved to make other people laugh – a true comedian, both on and offstage. When not rehearsing or working for the department, he could usually be found chatting with friends and cracking jokes with his peers. While seemingly reserved and quiet at times, he was never unfriendly or unable to make light of a situation.
“Everyone should take a little bit of his kindness with them, and the world would be a better place. I hope that people can learn to be a little more patient, and a little kinder,” Hall advised Ellis’s peers. “I feel comfort in know- ing how happy he was here at the college.”
A memorial service is being planned for Ellis, but no dates or locations have been formally announced yet. A good takeaway from the situation is that we never truly know how anything is going to end. Take time to tell people you love them. Take time to dedicate yourself to what you love, and appreciate those who dedicate themselves to you. We could all do our best to be a little more like Matt Ellis.
Photos courtesy of Adelaide Elliott
By Jacob Ruddy