Dr. Shawna Mefferd Kelty

Assistant Professor of Theatre

Dr. Shawna Mefferd Kelty received her B.A. in Dramatic Arts from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, her M.A. and Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Missouri. Emphases in her graduate work include directing and performance theory, critical theory, higher education, and a minor in psychoanalytic theory. She is a current associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and a 200-RYT and 85-hour PRYT yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance.

From 2004–2007, Dr. Mefferd Kelty served as the Artistic Director of InterAct Teen to Teen Theatre. Then in 2007, she co-founded Independent Actors Theatre, a fringe theatre company in Columbia, MO, and served as its Artistic Director from 2007–2010. She also founded the annual short Women’s Play Festival as part of Independent Actors Theatre’s regular season (currently on hiatus).

At heart, Dr. Mefferd Kelty is a generalist, with a strong love of the literature, history, theory, and production of theatre. Her experiences and interests in theatre are broad ranging from performance, directing, and technical production to dramatic literature, history, and theory. Dr. Mefferd Kelty’s performances have been numerous and varied, ranging from classical to contemporary. She has directed and performed in several original works (two off-Broadway directing credits). She also worked as both performer and facilitator in two Theatre of the Oppressed interactive theatre troupes. Her theatre work also extends into technical theatre as a master electrician, scene shop supervisor, and a technical director among other backstage roles. She is also an avid runner (5K to marathon), yogi, and yoga instructor, and encourages her students to find an embodied practice that strengthens them physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Dr. Mefferd Kelty currently teaches Theatre History, Dramatic Literature, Directing, and Performance at SUNY Plattsburgh as an associate professor. Her research and creative scholarship focuses on contemporary American theatre and dramatic literature, new play development, and theatre pedagogy. She is currently working as the associate editor of an anthology of Pulitzer-prize-winning Missouri playwright Lanford Wilson’s short stories and essays forthcoming in 2017.

Dr. Mefferd Kelty serves as the theatre representative in Faculty Senate (former 2015–16 Faculty Senate Chair) and is a current member of the Writing Across the Curriculum committee. She is the Association of Theatre in Higher Education Theatre as a Liberal Art Focus Group Representative. She is also the Associate Conference Planner for the Mid-America Theatre Conference and the Co-vice Chair for the Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She is also a regional play respondent and selector and currently serves as the co-vice chair of the National Playwriting Program for Region I Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. Dr. Mefferd Kelty serves as a blind reader to several new play development programs across the nation. She also is the Drama Editor of the Saranac Review at SUNY Plattsburgh.

She leaves you with a quote from one of her heroes, John Patrick Shanley. Although he wrote it with actors in mind, it is relevant to all theatre artists: “Theatre is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done…. An actor who is truly heroic reveals the divine that passes through him, that aspect of himself that he does not own and cannot control. The control and the artistry of the heroic actor is in service to his soul.”

Teaching Areas and Interests

  • Directing
  • Dramatic Literature — Contemporary Women Playwrights, African American Playwrights
  • Theatre History — Women’s Theatre History, African American Theatre History
  • Theatre for Social Change — Theatre of the Oppressed, Interactive Theatre
  • Performance — Voice & Articulation, Periods & Styles

Recent Productions

  • The 49th KCACTF Region I Awards Ceremony, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Danbury, CT (Director), 2017
  • Techno-Vention by Lesley Moreau, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Danbury, CT (Director), 2017
  • The Vampire of the Grotto by Aoise Stratford, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director), 2016
  • Tales from an American Middle School by Savannah Briehl and Tracy Vicory-Rosenquest, St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe, Montreal, QC (Actor), 2016
  • Fashion, or Life in New York by Anna Cora Mowatt SUNY Plattsburgh (Director), 2016
  • Next Discussion for Book Club: Michelle Anderson’s The New Jim Crow by Paco Madden, Mid America Theatre Conference (Director), Minneapolis, MN, 2016
  • Outopia for Pigeons by Justin Maxwell, 30City, Plattsburgh, NY (Director), 2016
  • Crash by Samantha Noble, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Danbury, CT (Director), 2016
  • The Sculpture Gallery by Aoise Stratford, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Montreal, QC (Director), 2015
  • The Missouri Horror by David Crespy, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Kansas City, MO (Director), 2015
  • An Incarnation of Silence by Andy Vaught, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Kansas City, MO (Actor), 2015
  • God Sighs by Jonathan Herbert, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Kansas City, MO (Actor), 2015
  • Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike by Christopher Durang, Pendragon Theatre, Saranac Lake, NY (Director/Dramaturg), 2015
  • Milk Like Sugar by Kirsten Greenidge, SUNY Plattsburgh, (Director/Dramaturg), 2015
  • Tracks by Abbey Fenbert,Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Hyannis, MA (Director), 2015
  • Body Awareness by Annie Baker, SUNY Plattsburgh, 30 City, Plattsburgh, NY and Pendragon Theatre, Saranac Lake, NY (Director/Dramaturg), 2014
  • At Delphi by Aoise Stratford, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Cleveland, OH (Director), 2014
  • A Bright Room Called Day , SUNY Plattsburgh (Dramaturg), 2014
  • Geniuses by Abbey Fenbert, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Director), 2014

Upcoming Productions

  • A Girl Walks into a Bar by Mary Clohan, Mid-America Theatre Conference (Director), Houston, TX, 2017.
  • Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, SUNY Plattsburgh (Director), 2017


  • Lanford Wilson: Early Stories, Sketches and Poetry. Crespy, David, editor and Shawna Mefferd Kelty, associate editor. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, Fall 2017. Book.
  • “Theatre & Mind,” Theatre History Studies 33 (2014): 258-260. Book Review.
  • “New Directions in Renaissance Drama and Performance Studies,” Theatre History Studies 32 (2012): 191-194. Book Review.
  • Study Guide for Red Death, SUNY Plattsburgh, 2012.
  • Study Guide for On the Verge, SUNY Plattsburgh, 2012.
  • Study Guide for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, SUNY Plattsburgh, 2011.

Plays & Adaptations

  • Fashion by Anna Cora Mowatt, SUNY Plattsburgh, Adaptation with THE305 Students, 2016.
  • The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare, SUNY Plattsburgh, Adaptation, 2013.
  • I Hear They Drink Champagne, co-authored with Erin Phillips, PlaySlam, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Omaha, NE, 2013.

Recent Conference Papers (peer-reviewed)

  • “Disrupting the Classroom: Subversive Pedagogy in the Undergraduate and Graduate Classroom,” Co-presentation with Dr. Emily Daniels, Conference on Teaching Excellence, October 2016, Plattsburgh, NY.
  • “Teaching Diversity: Creating Difficult Dialogues,” Roundtable discussion, Theatre as a Liberal Art focus group, ATHE, Aug 2016, Chicago, IL.
  • “Creating Gender Parity through Women’s Works in the Classroom,” Pedagogy Symposium, MATC, March 2016, Minneapolis, MN.
  • “Dream Big: Artistic Literacy for the 21st Century,” Roundtable discussion, Theatre as a Liberal Art focus group, ATHE, July 2014, Scottsdale, AZ.
  • “Developing Ensemble and Engaged-Learners through Liberatory Pedagogy,” Pedagogy Symposium, MATC, March 2014, Cleveland, OH.
  • “Who’s Afraid of Ai WeiWei?: Creating ART(i)FACTS in the Twittersphere.” Visual and Digital Culture Area, North East Popular/American Culture Association (NEPCA), October 2013, Colchester, VT.
  • “Using Mid-semester Evaluations,” Teaching Tips panel session, Theatre as a Liberal Art (TLA) Pre-conference, Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) conference, Aug 2013, Orlando, FL.
  • “Scholarly Personal Narrative and Reflective Writing as a Collaborative Tool,” presented in “The Pedagogy of Collaboration and Performance” panel session, TLA Pre-conference, ATHE conference, Aug 2013, Orlando, FL.
  • “NOT Playing it Safe in Acting Classrooms: ‘Risky’ Approaches to Assessment, Course Design, and Casting.” Acting Focus Group, ATHE, August 2013. Orlando, FL.
  • “Acting Like a Teacher: Performance in the Classroom Setting,” Co-presented with Dr. Wendy Gordon, Conference on Teaching Excellence, April 2013, Plattsburgh, NY.
  • “Dispelling Mythologies of Gender in Mary Zimmerman’s The Odyssey,” Production/Practice Symposium, MATC, March 2013, St Louis, MO.

Professional Affiliations

  • Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC)
  • Yoga Alliance (YA)
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
  • ATHE Leadership Institute (ATHE LI)
  • American Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS)
  • Mid America Theatre Conference (MATC)
  • Center for the Study of Canada Associates (CESCA)
  • New England Theatre Conference (NETC)
  • Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
  • Alpha Psi Omega (APO)
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW)

Contact Shawna Mefferd Kelty

Office: Myers Fine Arts 124
Phone: (518) 564-2480
Email: smeff001@plattsburgh.edu