Karen Kessler


Karen Kessler is a proud ensemble member of Chicago’s iconoclastic, cutting-edge A Red Orchid Theatre where she directed the world premiere of Brett Neveu’s The Opponent in 2012 and then moved with the show to New York City’s 59E59 Theatres in the late summer of 2014.   Other Red Orchid credits include the Chicago premiere of Jennifer Haley’s The Nether, the Chicago premiere of Zinnie Harris’s Solstice, the Chicago premiere of Paul Mullin’s Louis Slotin Sonata, the Chicago premiere of Blasted by Sarah Kane, the Chicago premiere of Mr. Kolpert by German playwright David Gieselmann and the US premiere of Gagarin’s Way by Scottish playwright Gregory Burke.

Her other Chicago area work includes 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 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 ConcernThis Lime Tree Brower and Remembrance. Other Chicago credits include: Alias GraceWrens (a play that won a Jeff Award for Best New Work), The Trestle at Pope Lick CreekHamlet and Cyrano de Bergerac for Rivendell Theatre Ensemble-a company which Karen co-founded; and the Midwest premier of Steve Martin’s The Underpants for Noble Fool Productions.

Credits outside of Chicago include: Hank Williams: Lost Highway at the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, TN; Glengarry Glen Ross for the Northern Stage Ensemble in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England; Measure for Measure for Connecticut Repertory Theatre; The Three MusketeersScapin, MacbethA Midsummer Night’s DreamThe 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: Alias Grace, Oklahoma, Music Man, Guys and Dolls, The Last Days of Judas IscariotFrozenHairCamino Real, Love’s Labor’s LostPolaroid StoriesAntigoneBat Boy! The MusicalOur TownLysistrata, 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.


MacArthur Award 2016

Posted on March 21, 2016

  As many of you have heard, A Red Orchid Theatre has been named one of the 14 recipients of this year’s MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions.  We …

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Professional Development Series

A Red Orchid Theatre Professional Development: We are currently accepting applications for this class. If you are interested, please send a current headshot/resume to shade@aredorchidtheatre.org. Enrollment is selective and class …

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