Karen Robinson (Professor, Coordinator of Internships)
M.F.A. Directing, New York University
B.A. Theatre, University of Colorado, Boulder
B.A. English Literature, University of Colorado, Boulder
Areas of Emphasis: Directing; Performance; Dramaturgy (new plays and classical texts); Theatre Appreciation; Audition Techniques; African American Theatre
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. She served as Interim Chair for the Department from 2013-2015.
Karen’s production work includes chamber theatre, performance ethnography, contemporary and period classics, and new play development. Recent KSU productions include Suzan-Lori Parks’ “In the Blood,” Lynn Nottage’s "Ruined," Tarell Alvin McCraney’s "Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet," which she also directed at Atlanta’s Actor’s Express; "The Good Person of Szechuan," "Fences," and 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 with subsequent tours of staged readings to Selma, Alabama, and Paderborn, Germany.
At the heart of Karen's teaching philosophy are collaboration with colleagues and students and integration 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. Examples include "O'Connor Onstage: Embodiment and Polyphonic Narration", published in the "Flannery O'Connor Review" (2013), and "Polyphonic Dynamics as Educational Practice" co-authored with colleagues Ming Chen and Ivan Pulinkala ("Theatre Topics," 2010). A passionate advocate for global learning and intercultural art and performance, Karen served as Global Learning Coordinator for KSU's College of the Arts from 2006-2013. Her global projects have included student tours of "The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party" (2012) and John Gentile's adaptation of "Moby-Dick" to the International University Theatre Festival in Casablanca in which she performed French narration (2009); 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's 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 thirty years. An Associate Artist at Georgia Shakespeare from 1990-2014, she 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 the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. 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.