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Shawna Kelty


Associate Professor of Theatre

“Theatre exercises our capacity to listen, to acknowledge worlds of experience different from our own, to simultaneously hold multiple and conflicting viewpoints as plausible and real . . . Empathy, after all, is an imaginative act.” — Marta Lu Clifford (Chinook & Cree); Theresa May, author of Salmon Is Everything and Earth Matters on Stage.

Dr. Shawna Mefferd Kelty received her B.A. in Dramatic Arts from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, her M.A. and Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Missouri. She is a current associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and a 200-RYT hatha yoga and 85-hour PRYT prenatal yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance (she teaches yoga).

At heart, Dr. Kelty is a generalist, with a great love of all the aspects of theatre. Her experiences and interests in theatre are broad ranging from performance, directing, and technical production to dramatic literature, history, and theory. 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 a distance runner, yoga practitioner/teacher, and encourages her students to find an embodied practice that strengthens and grounds them physically, mentally, and spiritually. You’ll probably see her out running or riding her bike to campus (wearing a helmet, of course).  She also has roller skates in her desk drawer (no helmet).

Dr. Kelty’s research and creative scholarship focuses on contemporary American theatre and dramatic literature, new play development, and theatre pedagogy. She is the associate editor of Lanford Wilson: Early Stories, Sketches, and Poems (2017). You can find her most recent theatre pedagogy research in Theatre Topics andTheatre/Practice.

She is the drama editor for The Saranac Review. Dr. Kelty also serves as the theatre representative in the Faculty Senate and serves as the chair for the General Education committee. She LOVES the Cardinal Core. She also will probably recommend about fifty podcasts you should listen to when you get a chance because she LOVES to learn new things.

On the national and regional stage, Dr. Kelty is the president-elect for the Mid-America Theatre Conference and has served in a variety of positions within the Association for Theatre in Higher Education on the governing council and within the Theatre as a Liberal Art Focus Group. Dr. Kelty is the coordinator of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region I Fringe Festival and serves as a regional play respondent and selector.

Locally, she also serves on the North Country Food Co-op’s board because she deeply believes in the 7 principles of cooperatives and that how we engage with where we live and the community where we live matters. As theatre artists, we are the storytellers of and for our community.

Her dad often tells her that she’s no spring chicken, but she begs to differ.

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