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Halena Kays

Halena Kays to Join Department of Theatre & Drama

Aug 21, 2023 | Faculty, Faculty Announcements

The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance announces that Professor Halena Kays will join the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre & Drama in fall 2023. Kays is a founding member of the artistic collaborative the Ruffians, an artistic affiliate of American Blues Theater, a former member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care unit, past artistic director of the Hypocrites, former co-artistic curator for Theater on the Lake, and co-founder and former artistic director of Playmakers Lab. She will teach introductory and intermediate levels of directing, as well as supervise senior directing thesis projects in her role as head of the directing program for the department.”

“I’m beyond thrilled to be joining the best theatre faculty in the country and the most fascinating and creative student artists of their generation,” said Kays. “The opportunity to mentor the next leaders of the American theatre and join a beautiful artistic community is a dream. I can’t wait to dig in and get going!”

Halena is an artistic associate with the Neo-Futurists Chicago, where she directed Comfortable Shoes, Pop/Waits, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, Burning Bluebeard, Daredevils, Daredevils Hamlet, Fake Lake, and Wildcat!.

Selected Chicago directing credits include Endgame, Ivywild, Six Characters in Search of an Author (the Hypocrites), The Magic Play (the Goodman), Lord of the Flies (Steppenwolf), How a Boy Falls (Northlight Theatre), On Clover Road (American Blues Theater), and Feast (the Goodman; part of a collaborative directing effort with the Albany Park Theatre Project).  Regionally, Halena has directed Do You Feel Anger? (Circle X, LA), Shapeshifter (Bard at the Gate with the McCarter Theatre Center), The Magic Play (the Olney Theater Center, the Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Portland Center Stage, and Syracuse Stage), Love Song and The Welkin (Nashville Story Garden), and Secretary (Nashville Rep’s Ingram New Works Festival).

”Halena Kays embraces a wide variety of stories and aesthetics. She prioritizes goals of radical hospitality and inclusion in theatrical process, production, and performance site,” said Tiffany Trent, chair and associate professor of the Department of Theatre & Drama. “We look forward to Halena challenging how we conceptualize audience in our theatre-making, and enhancing our student experience through the perspectives she brings to the table.”

Kays has been nominated for Jeff Awards for Best Supporting Actress, Best Direction, Best New Work, and Best Production, named one of the top 50 players in Chicago theatre by NewCity, and is a recipient of the prestigious 3Arts Award.   

Kays received her BS from Northwestern University and her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).

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