Professor of Theatre
Teaching Areas: Directing, Acting
Date of Hire: August 2003Biography
Karen Kessler teaches directing and Shakespeare for Ball State’s Department of Theatre and Dance. She is also a proud ensemble member of Chicago’s iconoclastic, cutting-edge A Red Orchid Theatre Ensemble (www.aredorchidtheatre.org) where she has directed the world premiere of The Opponent by Brett Neveu, The Nether by Jennifer Haley, Solstice by British playwright Zinnie Harris, the Chicago premier of Paul Mullin’s Louis Slotin Sonata, the Chicago premier of Blasted by Sarah Kane, the Chicago premier of Mr. Kolpert by German playwright David Gieselmann and the US premier of Gagarin's Way by Scottish playwright Gregory Burke.
Karen co-founded Rivendell Theatre in Chicago and, for them, directed the world premiere of Jennifer Blackmer’s adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel, Alias Grace, Wrens (a play that won a Jeff Award for Best New Work), The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Hamlet and Cyrano de Bergerac. Other Chicago productions include a production of A Number at Backstage Theatre Company, the US premier of Roddy Doyle’s War at Seanachai Theatre Company, the Midwest premier of Sam Shepard's The God of Hell at the Next Theatre in Evanston, the Midwest premiere of Steve Martin’s The Underpants, and a staged reading of Susan Nussbaum's Crippled Sisters for world renowned Goodman Theatre's New Play Series. Karen is past artistic director of the gone but not forgotten Famous Door Theatre where she directed the world premiere of Early and Often, the world premiere of a Mislaid Heaven, (a play that won a Jeff Award for Best New Work), the US premier of A Going Concern, This Lime Tree Brower and Remembrance.
Credits outside of Chicago include: the off-Broadway premiere of The Opponent at 59E59 Street Theatre in New York City, Glengarry Glen Ross for the Northern Stage Ensemble in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England; Measure for Measure for Connecticut Repertory Theatre; Hank Williams: Lost Highway and Alias Grace for the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee; Henry V, The Three Musketeers, Scapin, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, and All's Well That Ends Well at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival; and the Merry Wives of Windsor and The Complete History of American (Abridged) for Idaho Repertory Theatre.
University directing credits include: Borrowed Babies, Pericles; Prince of Tyre, The Great God Pan, Alias Grace, Oklahoma!, Music Man, Guys and Dolls, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Frozen, Hair, Camino Real, Love’s Labor’s Lost, Polaroid Stories, Antigone, Bat Boy! The Musical, Our Town, Lysistrata, and You Can't Take It with You at Ball State University; A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the University of Illinois Chicago, The Rivals at Virginia Commonwealth University; Les Liaisons Dangereuses at Illinois State University; and The Miss Firecracker Contest at Denison University.