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Shawna Kelty


Associate Professor of Theatre

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. Emphases in her graduate work include directing and performance theory, critical theory, higher education, and a minor in psychoanalytic theory. She is a current associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and a 200-RYT and 85-hour PRYT yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance.

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 marathon), yogi, and yoga instructor, and encourages her students to find an embodied practice that strengthens them physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Dr. Mefferd Kelty currently teaches Theatre History, Dramatic Literature, Directing, and Performance at SUNY Plattsburgh as an associate professor. Her 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 research in Theatre/Practice (theatrepractice.us).

Dr. Mefferd Kelty is the drama editor for The Saranac Review. She also serves as the theatre representative in Faculty Senate (former 2015–16 Faculty Senate Chair) and is a current member of the Writing Across the Curriculum committee.

On the national and regional stage, Dr. Mefferd Kelty is the current conference planner for the Mid-America Theatre Conference. She also serves on the Association of Theatre in Higher Education governing council as the member at large for outreach and is the Theatre as a Liberal Art Focus Group immediate-past representative. Dr. Mefferd Kelty also serves as the co-vice chair for the Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and is co-coordinator of the Region I Fringe Festival. She serves as a regional play respondent and selector.

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.”

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