Halena Kays

Assistant Professor


As head of the directing program for the department, Halena Kays teaches introductory and intermediate levels of directing and supervises senior directing thesis projects.

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.

As an artistic associate with the Neo-Futurists Chicago, Kays directed Comfortable Shoes, Pop/Waits, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, Burning Bluebeard, Daredevils, Daredevils Hamlet, Fake Lake, and Wildcat!. Other 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 Kays 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).

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).

Halena Kays
Updated on: 5/14/2024