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Theatre Faculty — Dr. Shawna Mefferd Kelty

Dr. Shawna Mefferd Kelty received her B.A. in Dramatic Arts from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, her MA and PhD in Theatre from the University of Missouri. Emphases in her graduate work include directing and performance theory, critical theory, higher education, and a minor in psychoanalytic theory.

From 2004-2007, Dr. Mefferd Kelty served as the Artistic Director of InterAct Teen to Teen Theatre. Then in 2007, she co-founded Independent Actors Theatre, a fringe theatre company in Columbia, MO, and served as its Artistic Director from 2007-2010. She still serves on the board of trustees of IAT. She also founded the annual short Women’s Play Festival as part of Independent Actors Theatre’s regular season, which is now in its 7th season as a national new works festival. If you’re interested in the theatre company, please check out the website: She is also a board member of 30City, a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the cultural and community spirit in Plattsburgh, providing opportunities for educators and performers to engage the public (you can find 30City on Facebook).

At heart, Dr. Mefferd Kelty is a generalist, with a strong love of the literature, history, theory, and production of theatre.  Her experiences and interests in theatre are broad ranging from performance, directing, and technical production to dramatic literature, history, and theory. Dr. Mefferd Kelty’s performances have been numerous and varied, ranging from classical to contemporary. She has directed and performed in several original works (two off-Broadway directing credits). She also worked as both performer and facilitator in two Theatre of the Oppressed interactive theatre troupes. Her theatre work also extends into technical theatre as a master electrician, scene shop supervisor, and a technical director among other backstage roles. She is also an avid runner (5K to ½ marathon) and yogini and encourages her students to find an embodied practice that strengthens them physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Dr. Mefferd Kelty is currently teaching Theatre History, Dramatic Literature, Directing, and Performance at SUNY Plattsburgh as an Assistant Professor. While having a love and appreciation for the classics, her favorite area of literature is contemporary drama. Her research and creative scholarship focuses on ethics of representation, practice, and pedagogy. She is currently researching American playwright, Lanford Wilson, as associate editor of a three-volume anthology of his short stories, poems, essays, and correspondence.

Dr. Mefferd Kelty serves as the Theatre representative in Faculty Senate, Faculty Senate Secretary, and as a member of the General Education committee. She is also a Safe Space trainer, co-coordinator of The Queer Monologues, and strong supporter of LGBTQ issues. She is the Association of Theatre in Higher Education Theatre as a Liberal Art Focus Group Planner (2014-2015) and future TLA Focus Group Representative (2016-2017). She is a play respondent and the 2nd Vice Chair of the National Playwriting Program for Region I Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival and serves as a blind reader to several new play development programs.

She leaves you with a quote from one of her heroes, John Patrick Shanley. Although he wrote it with actors in mind, it is relevant to all theatre artists: “Theatre is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done…. An actor who is truly heroic reveals the divine that passes through him, that aspect of himself that he does not own and cannot control. The control and the artistry of the heroic actor is in service to his soul.”

Teaching Areas and Interests

  • Directing
  • Dramatic Literature/ Theory
  • Theatre History
  • Performance
  • Theatre for Social Change

Recent Productions

  • 2014. Body Awareness, SUNY Plattsburgh, 30 City (Director/Dramaturg)
  • 2014. At Delphi, Mid America Theatre Conference (Director)
  • 2014. A Bright Room Called Day , SUNY Plattsburgh (Dramaturg)
  • 2014. Geniuses, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Director)
  • 2013. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Director)
  • 2013. The Winter's Tale, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director/Dramaturg/Adapter)
  • 2013. A Good Woman Waits, Mid America Theatre Conference (Actor)
  • 2013. Something From Nothing, Mid America Theatre Conference (Actor)
  • 2013. Red Death, SUNY Plattsburgh (Dramaturg)
  • 2012. The Odyssey, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director/Dramaturg)
  • 2012. Alice in Black and White, Great Plains Theatre Conference (Actor)
  • 2012. The Journal of Nearly Supernatural Ornithology, Mid-America Theatre Conference Playwriting Symposium (Director)
  • 2012. On the Verge, SUNY Plattsburgh (Dramaturg)
  • 2011. Wait Until Dark, College Theatre Association (Dramaturg)
  • 2011. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, SUNY Plattsburgh (Dramaturg)
  • 2011. The Nooner, Envelope Sky Productions (released 2013) (Actor)
  • 2011. Superior Donuts, Independent Actors Theatre (Director)
  • 2011. Doubt, A Parable, Columbia Entertainment Company (Director)
  • 2011. Strike, Mid America Theatre Conference Playwriting Symposium (Director)

Upcoming Productions

  • 2015. Milk Like Sugar, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director/Dramaturg)


  • 2014. "Theatre & Mind," Theatre History Studies 34 (2014): Forthcoming. Book Review.
  • 2012. “New Directions in Renaissance Drama and Performance Studies,” Theatre History Studies 32 (2012): 191-194. Book Review.
  • 2013. Study Guide for Red Death, SUNY Plattsburgh.
  • 2012. Study Guide for On the Verge, SUNY Plattsburgh.
  • 2011. Study Guide for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, SUNY Plattsburgh.

Plays & Adaptations

  • 2013. The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare, SUNY Plattsburgh, Adaptation.
  • 2013. I Hear They Drink Champagne, co-authored with Erin Phillips, PlaySlam, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Omaha, NE.

Recent Conference Papers (peer-reviewed)

  • “Dream Big: Artistic Literacy for the 21st Century,” Roundtable discussion, Theatre as a Liberal Art focus group, ATHE, July 26, 2014, Scottsdale, AZ.
  • “Developing Ensemble and Engaged-Learners through Liberatory Pedagogy,” Pedagogy Symposium, MATC, March 6, 2014, Cleveland, OH.
  • “Who’s Afraid of Ai WeiWei?: Creating ART(i)FACTS in the Twittersphere.” Visual and Digital Culture Area, North East Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA), October 25-26, 2013, Colchester, VT.
  • “Using Mid-semester Evaluations,” Teaching Tips panel session, Theatre as a Liberal Art (TLA) Pre-conference, Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) conference, Aug 1, 2013, Orlando, FL.
  • “Scholarly Personal Narrative and Reflective Writing as a Collaborative Tool,” presented in “The Pedagogy of Collaboration and Performance” panel session, TLA Pre-conference, ATHE conference, Aug 1, 2013, Orlando, FL.
  • “NOT Playing it Safe in Acting Classrooms: ‘Risky’ Approaches to Assessment, Course Design, and Casting.” Acting Focus Group, ATHE, August 3, 2013. Orlando, FL.
  • “Acting Like a Teacher: Performance in the Classroom Setting,” Co-presented with Dr. Wendy Gordon, Conference on Teaching Excellence, April 2013, Plattsburgh, NY.
  • “Dispelling Mythologies of Gender in Mary Zimmerman’s The Odyssey,” Production/Practice Symposium, MATC, March 8, 2013, St Louis, MO.

Professional Affiliations

  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
  • ATHE Leadership Institute (ATHE LI)
  • American Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS)
  • Mid America Theatre Conference (MATC)
  • Center for the Study of Canada Associates (CESCA)
  • New England Theatre Conference (NETC)
  • Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
  • Alpha Psi Omega (APO)

Contact Shawna Mefferd Kelty

Office: Myers Fine Arts 124
Phone: (518) 564-2480