Karen Robinson


Professor and Interim Chair
Coordinator of Internships
Global Learning Coordinator, College of the Arts

Karen Robinson holds an M.F.A. in Directing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and B.A.’s in Theatre and English Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Prior to her arrival at KSU in January of 2000, she taught at University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Wake Forest University. She teaches courses in directing, performance studies, dramatic literature, theatre history, auditioning, and theatre appreciation in addition to directing for the Department’s production season. Karen’s production work includes chamber theatre, performance ethnography, contemporary and period classics, and new play development. In 2009 she directed the regional premiere of Karin Coonrod’s chamber theatre adaptations of Flannery O’Connor’s “A View of the Woods,” and “Everything that Rises Must Converge.” In 2010, she directed the world  premiere of Margaret Baldwin’s play Night Blooms for Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre Company.

At the heart of Karen’s teaching philosophy are collaboration with colleagues and students and the marriage of the theoretical and practical—most vividly reflected in the profile of the scholar-artist. As a scholar-artist she balances creative work with research and scholarship of teaching and learning, and frequently authors/co-authors essays reflecting upon her production work. The most recent example, co-authored with colleagues Ming Chen and Ivan Pulinkala, explored semiotics and collective creation and was published in the September 2010 issue of Theatre Topics.

A passionate advocate for global learning and intercultural art /performance, Karen has served as Global Learning Coordinator for KSU’s College of the Arts since 2006. Her global projects have included a tour of John Gentile’s adaptation of Moby-Dick to the 2009 International University Theatre Festival in Casablanca in which she performed French narration; the direction of a world premier adaptation of the Chinese folk novel Monkey King (2005) that was presented at Kennesaw State University and subsequently toured to Shanghai; and the co-direction (with playwright Margaret Baldwin) of a performance ethnography entitled You Always Go Home (2006-7) that focused on Kenyans living and studying in the KSU community. The production was presented as part of an international conference: The Role of the Kenyan Diaspora in Kenya’s Development. Inspired by a visit to Shangilia—a Kenyan residence school that uses the performing arts to rehabilitate street children and orphans—Karen designed and coordinated a 5-day residency and performance at KSU featuring the Shangilia Youth Choir in collaboration with Micocci Productions of New York City, director Lee Breuer (The Gospel of Colonus), singer/music director J.D. Steele, and gospel musician Butch Heyward.

Outside the university, Karen has worked as a freelance director, dramaturg, and/or stage manager for theatres in New York City, North Carolina, California and Atlanta, Georgia for over twenty-five years. An Associate Artist at Georgia Shakespeare, she has directed fourteen productions for the company, including As You Like It, Twelfth Night (reviewed by the Wall Street Journal as “an absolute knock-out”), A Streetcar Named Desire, The School for Wives, Amadeus (listed by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution (AJC) as one of the most memorable theatrical productions of 2001), Tartuffe, Saint Joan, The School for Scandal, Much Ado About Nothing (named one of the year's 10 best shows by the AJC), Love's Labour’s Lost, Cyrano de Bergerac and The Bourgeois Gentleman. She is a member of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the National Communication Association, and Actors' Equity Association. Karen is the recipient of several awards including Kennesaw State University’s 2009 Award for Distinguished Teaching, the 2010 College of the Arts Distinguished Service Award, a 2010 University of Georgia Board of Regents Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2011 KSU Distinguished Professor award.

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