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75th Anniversary: Alumni Profiles

Kirsten Kelly '95

Kirsten is a film and theatre director and theatre educator who lives in New York city. Her film credits include: “Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint” short film (Beyond The Machine concert, Lincoln Center); “Asparagus! (Stalking the American Life)” (award-winning feature documentary on the 2006-7 film festival circuit; DVD released May 2008); “Juilliard Electronic Ensemble: Beyond The Machine Mission Video”. She was the Production Manager for three National Geographic Explorer episodes, “Science of Babies,” “Ultimate Hippos,” and “Inside North Korea with Lisa Ling.” Her theatre directing credits include: Co-creator of “CPS! Shakespeare” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet, Chicago Shakespeare (adaptations with cast of Chicago Public HS students and teachers), the Washington D.C. premiere of Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gillman (Helen Hayes Nomination, Best Direction), the midwest/Chicago premiere of David Mamet’s Boston Marriage (After Dark Award, Best Director), and Savage Love/Tongues with the Juilliard Percussion Ensemble, Lincoln Center.
            Prior to New York, she lived in Chicago for six years where she worked in the Education Department and was an assistant director at Chicago Shakespeare. She was a member of Strawdog Theatre Company and served as Artistic Director for one year.
            Kirsten is a graduate of the Master’s Directing program at Juilliard where she received the three year Andrew W. Mellon Directing Fellowship, and is a member of Rising Phoenix Repertory Theatre in New York. Kirsten grew up in Western Michigan on a fruit and vegetable farm. She has returned to Michigan each summer for the last eight years to her hometown where she is the Artistic Director of the Oceana Summer Youth Theatre and directs a Shakespeare production with rural H.S. students.
            A Wall Is A Wall Is a Wall....I remember so vividly our CTC production of “A Dream Play.” I had recently decided not to play another year of Calvin basketball and to instead, delve into the more ‘artsy’ side of Calvin. I was drawn to something in CTC and the people hanging around the CAS department. “A Dream Play” brought together so many things I loved—movement, social consciousness, story-telling—and most of all a dynamic, committed group of students whose talent and passion was incredible. I played a small role – most significantly—standing stock still for 15 minutes as part of the Wall of Humanity...something to joke about for sure at the closing night skit, but actually a powerful image and even more powerful example of ensemble performance. I was also blown away by this production and this new theatre professor, Deb Freeberg, who had just come in and gave us such an intense experience. It changed my understanding of what is possible. With Korf’s directing class and Lab Bills in my last Calvin year I experimented with directing. For me, there was something I connected with here – watching, listening, storytelling with visual images as well as words. It was at Calvin, in the last semester of my last year where I found my very own direction. And it was CTC and the experience with the faculty and fellow students that gave me the courage to follow that direction with courage. I am honored to return to direct the 75th Anniversary production this Interim, and hope to give to the current students even half of what Calvin gave to me years ago.


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Kirsten Kelly '05
Graduation year

Calvin major