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Shawna Kelty

Assistant 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.”

Teaching Areas and Interests

  • Directing
  • Dramatic Literature — Contemporary Women Playwrights, African American Playwrights, Canadian Playwrights
  • Theatre History — Women’s Theatre History, African American Theatre History
  • Theatre for Social Change — Theatre of the Oppressed, Interactive Theatre, Community-based Theatre
  • Performance — Voice & Articulation, Periods & Styles

Recent Productions

  • Good Kids by Naomi Iizuka, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director/Dramaturg), 2018
  • The 50th KCACTF Region I Awards Ceremony, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Danbury, CT (Director), 2017
  • Just Like Us by Karen Zacharias, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director/Dramaturg), 2017
  • A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, Blue Moon Cafe (Actor), Burlington, VT, 2017
  • Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director/Dramaturg), 2017
  • A Girl Walks into a Bar by Mary Clohan, Mid-America Theatre Conference (Director), Houston, TX, 2017
  • The 49th KCACTF Region I Awards Ceremony, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Danbury, CT (Director), 2017
  • Techno-Vention by Lesley Moreau, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Danbury, CT (Director), 2017
  • The Vampire of the Grotto by Aoise Stratford, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director), 2016
  • Tales from an American Middle School by Savannah Briehl and Tracy Vicory-Rosenquest, St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe, Montreal, QC (Actor), 2016
  • Fashion, or Life in New York by Anna Cora Mowatt SUNY Plattsburgh (Director), 2016
  • Next Discussion for Book Club: Michelle Anderson’s The New Jim Crow by Paco Madden, Mid America Theatre Conference (Director), Minneapolis, MN, 2016
  • Outopia for Pigeons by Justin Maxwell, 30City, Plattsburgh, NY (Director), 2016
  • Crash by Samantha Noble, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Danbury, CT (Director), 2016
  • The Sculpture Gallery by Aoise Stratford, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Montreal, QC (Director), 2015
  • The Missouri Horror by David Crespy, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Kansas City, MO (Director), 2015
  • An Incarnation of Silence by Andy Vaught, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Kansas City, MO (Actor), 2015
  • God Sighs by Jonathan Herbert, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Kansas City, MO (Actor), 2015
  • Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike by Christopher Durang, Pendragon Theatre, Saranac Lake, NY (Director/Dramaturg), 2015
  • Milk Like Sugar by Kirsten Greenidge, SUNY Plattsburgh, (Director/Dramaturg), 2015
  • Tracks by Abbey Fenbert,Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Hyannis, MA (Director), 2015
  • Body Awareness by Annie Baker, SUNY Plattsburgh, 30 City, Plattsburgh, NY and Pendragon Theatre, Saranac Lake, NY (Director/Dramaturg), 2014
  • At Delphi by Aoise Stratford, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Cleveland, OH (Director), 2014
  • A Bright Room Called Day, SUNY Plattsburgh (Dramaturg), 2014
  • Geniuses by Abbey Fenbert, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Director), 2014

Upcoming Productions

  • Trifles by Susan Glaspell, SUNY Plattsburgh (Dramaturg), 2018
  • She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director), 2018


  • “We Have Lift-Off: The Pedagogy of Radical Empathy for First-Year Student Success,” Theatre/Practice 7, (2018). Article.
  • Lanford Wilson: Early Stories, Sketches and Poetry. Crespy, David, editor and Shawna Mefferd Kelty, associate editor. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, Fall 2017. Book.
  • “Theatre & Mind,” Theatre History Studies 33 (2014): 258-260. Book Review.
  • “New Directions in Renaissance Drama and Performance Studies,” Theatre History Studies 32 (2012): 191-194. Book Review.
  • Fashion by Anna Cora Mowatt, SUNY Plattsburgh, Adaptation with THE305 Students, 2016.
  • 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, 2013.

Recent Conference Papers (peer-reviewed)

  • “Performing the Victor/Representing the Enemy Across the 49th Parallel: Contested Territories, Histories, and Identities of the War of 1812,” American Theatre and Drama Society Focus Group, ATHE, Aug 2018, Boston, MA.
  • “Spinning Truth(s,) Myths, Gossip, and Facts in the Theatre History Classroom,” Pedagogy Symposium, MATC, March 2018, Milwaukee, WI.
  • “We Have Lift-Off: Discovering the Intellectual and Creative Universe through the Theatre First Year Seminar,” Pedagogy Symposium, MATC, March 2017, Houston, TX.
  • “Disrupting the Classroom: Subversive Pedagogy in the Undergraduate and Graduate Classroom,” Co-presentation with Dr. Emily Daniels, Conference on Teaching Excellence, October 2016, Plattsburgh, NY.
  • “Creating Gender Parity through Women’s Works in the Classroom,” Pedagogy Symposium, MATC, March 2016, Minneapolis, MN.
  • “Dream Big: Artistic Literacy for the 21st Century,” Roundtable discussion, Theatre as a Liberal Art focus group, ATHE, July 2014, Scottsdale, AZ.
  • “Developing Ensemble and Engaged-Learners through Liberatory Pedagogy,” Pedagogy Symposium, MATC, March 2014, Cleveland, OH.

Professional Affiliations

  • Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC)
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
  • ATHE Leadership Institute (ATHE LI)
  • American Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS)
  • Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC)
  • Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  • New England Theatre Conference (NETC)
  • Alpha Psi Omega (APO)
  • Center for the Study of Canada Associates (CESCA)
  • Yoga Alliance (YA)
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