Biography

Kate Powers, facing away from the camera, looking at a rehearsal onstage

The director at work

I have long experience facilitating radical acceptance; I have written and taught inclusive and anti-racist practices. I have held spaces that foster the feeling of being not merely accepted, but sought out, connected, useful, celebrated as one’s authentic self without fear of judgment. Now I am looking to leverage my strategic planning, curriculum design, research, analysis, writing, critical and collaborative skills to fight for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. I think art can help.

In 2016, I founded the Redeeming Time Project in Minnesota. Our mission is to use Shakespeare to effect positive change. We leverage the theatrical arts to enable incarcerated and formerly incarcerated adults to develop social, cognitive, and life skills which they will need to reintegrate into the community. Up through March 2020, we delivered programming in two different correctional facilities in Minnesota; the men voted that it was time to begin work on a full production on March 11, 2020, and by the time we left the facility that night, the world had begun to shut down.

One of the men in our very first circle later, in a written mid-term evaluation, celebrated the value of:

Gaining new perspectives. The chance to feel like normalcy of everyday life. To learn how to step outside of your comfort zone. But even greater is to learn how to share space with people who are different, only to learn all the similarities we have.

My teaching artist, Travis Bedard, and I were gratified to learn in the mid-point evaluations for our first workshop that one enjoyable aspect of the project for one ensemble member is ‘working with facilitators that treat us all as equals, all the while displaying such authenticity. This is the first time since being in prison that I’ve experienced people that showed inmates that people in the world still have probity in them.’ Another participant observes, ‘Y’all don’t bring no rules.’ Not only are we living our stated purpose, but more importantly, the men are relearning how to be in relationship with other people in a way that is rarely available in a prison environment. As we check-out at the end of week four, I ask the circle, ‘How are we doing?’ One of the men says, ‘This is the best class I have taken in prison, and I have taken all the classes. This challenges me to remember who I am.’ A second shares, ‘I want everyone to be able to have this experience; I look forward to this all week. This is allowing me to open doors that have been shut for twenty years.’ A third participant offers, ‘In here, I am not an offender; I’m a human.’

If you would like to support this work, you can donate to the organization here.

While I was in Minnesota, I directed Sarah Ruhl’s In The Next Room and also Much Ado about Nothing at the University of Minnesota, for the B.A. and the B.F.A. programs, respectively. I taught a new feminist theatre course, called Top Girls, at Carleton College in Winter 2018 and Winter 2020. In Fall 2016, I taught my survey of American women playwrights course at UMN.  I directed The Merchant of Venice for Classical Actors Ensemble at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage. I also co-taught, with Adam Gauger, Minnesota Shakes, a program for teens; we shared the teens’ scenes with friends and family in early November.  In March 2017, I directed Mere Trifles, an evening of short plays in conversation with Susan Glaspell’s Trifles, for Theatre Unbound.

In Spring 2016, I directed (and played Maria in!) Twelfth Night at Sing Sing Correctional Facility; we opened April 27, 2016 for the general population of the prison. We also performed for an invited civilian guest audience of 275 on April 29. It was beautiful to behold the mothers, wives, and children of the men laughing and seeing their men accomplish the work of telling the story. Since mid-2009, I have worked as a facilitator, teacher and director with Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA) at Sing Sing, a maximum-security prison north of New York City, and at Fishkill, a medium security prison in Beacon, NY. In addition to collaborating with Jeff Glaser on his production of Starting Over in spring 2010 and directing two full productions (see below), I have team-taught workshops in acting, directing, playing Shakespeare and foolery at Sing Sing. During the first half of 2014, I directed Death of a Salesman at Fishkill Correctional Facility.

In January 2014, I participated in the month-long intensive at Shakespeare & Company. I trained with Tina Packer, Dennis Krausnik, Kevin Coleman, Andrew Borthwick-Leslie, Tori Rhodes, Isobel Kirk and an astonishing faculty. In August 2014, I will return to Sh&Co. for a week-long teaching artist workshop.

In fall 2013, I directed the premiere of Rosemary McLaughlin’s Paterson Falls at Drew University, while also teaching two classes there. I have been invited to teach at Drew during the fall semester in 2014 as well.

In the spring of 2013, I directed Our Town at Sing Sing Correctional Facility.

Proud of my incarcerated actors at Sing Sing.

Proud of my incarcerated actors at Sing Sing.

In fall 2012, I directed Kia Corthron’s Breath Boom for the Conservatory of Theatre at SUNY Purchase, while also teaching Performance Practicum and Intro to Acting.

In August 2011,  I directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the American Shakespeare Center for the 2011-2012 Almost Blasphemy tour.  In July 2011, I directed Becky’s New Car at Theatre Aspen, starring the incomparable Sandy Duncan and featuring Lawrence Lau, Heather Lee, David Ledingham, Jeffrey Correia, Autumn Hurlbert, and Ted Pejovich.  Under the auspices of Rehabilitation Through the Arts, I directed Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in spring 2011; we performed the play for the general population and for an invited civilian audience in May.

In July 2009, I directed John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, a parable at Weathervane Theatre in Whitefield, NH. During 2009, I also earned a Certificate in Arts Administration from New York University’s School of Continuing Education and consulted on the strategic planning for a new theatre company in the American West. In 2008, I directed Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Dell’arte Opera Ensemble’s Standard Repertoire Project and taught master classes to the singers on working with Shakespeare’s text.

My production of The Winter’s Tale opened July 6, 2007 at the American Shakespeare Center and played in repertory on the Blackfriars’ stage through early December 2007. The Staunton News Leader wrote “The current American Shakespeare Center production of “The Winter’s Tale,” directed by Kathleen Powers, is the finest I have seen at Blackfriars Playhouse.”

In March 2007, I directed Twelfth Night for the Richmond Shakespeare Theatre.

In November 2006, I returned to the North Shore Music Theatre to direct Jon Kimbell’s A Christmas Carol, A Musical Ghost Story, at the North Shore Music Theatre, in Beverly, MA. In September, I directed Amy de Lucia in her one-woman adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s Fräulein Else at Theatre Five in New York.

In 2005, I directed Measure for Measure on the Kansas City Rep. mainstage for the University of Missouri at Kansas City Graduate Acting Program. I also lost my apartment and most of my belongings to a fire late in the year; this displaced directing as my priority for several months.

In November / December 2004, I directed Julius Caesar at the Juilliard School; because this was a project for the students in the second year of the Drama School, performances were not open to the public. The emphasis was on putting the language to work to explore character and storytelling; the production was very much ‘poor theatre.’ In April / May, I directed Noël Coward’s Private Lives at the Irish Classical Theatre Company in Buffalo, New York. In January, I directed Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice on the Babcock Stage at the Pioneer Theatre in Salt Lake City, in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk by Supervisor Dan White. The production closed February 7, 2004.

In the autumn of 2003, I directed the Royal National Theatre’s UK Tour of Charlotte Jones’ Humble Boy in London. The production featured Hayley Mills, Brigit Forsyth, John Burgess, Paul Hecht, Hugh Sachs and Carla Lang; it played to 99% capacity houses throughout the United Kingdom from October 1 through December 6, 2003. Also in 2003, I directed The Taming of the Shrew at North Shore Music Theatre, in Beverly, Massachusetts and served as associate director to John Caird on the American premiere of Humble Boy at Manhattan Theatre Club.

I was a 2001-2002 Fulbright Scholar. In December 2002, I received my M.A. with Distinction in Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is part of the English Department at the University of Birmingham.

If you are would like to see a sample of my work at the Institute, click on one of the following links:

Prior to my Fulbright year, I directed As You Like It at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN and worked with graduate student playwrights at the NYU/Tisch Dramatic Writing Program, which I continue to do. In the fall of 2000, I directed Pieces, written and performed by Zohar Tirosh, for a limited run at the Blue Heron Arts Center in New York. I have directed Twelfth Night at Otterbein College in Columbus, Ohio and How I Learned to Drive at the Penobscot Theatre in Bangor, Maine. A member of SDC and a former Drama League Directing Fellow, I created Some Other Shakespeare (S.O.S.) with performers Frank Bradley and Seana Lee Wyman in 1996. We produced and I directed Much Ado about Nothing and Twelfth Night in New York City vest-pocket parks. I have directed productions at several off-off-Broadway venues as well as at Connecticut Repertory Theatre at UCONN, Trinity College (Hartford) and with Exiles Theatre at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

I have been fortunate enough to assist some of the people whom I respect and admire most in this business. As the 1998-99 Directing Assistant at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, I assisted David Leveaux on his production of Sophocles’ Electra, featuring Zoë Wanamaker, Claire Bloom, Pat Carroll, Michael Cumpsty, Marin Hinkle and Stephen Spinella. I assisted Mr. Leveaux when we transferred Electra to Broadway, where it received three Tony Award nominations. I assisted Emily Mann on the world premiere of her play Meshugah; I assisted Brian Kulick on the world premiere of Nilo Cruz’s Two Sisters and a Piano. I assisted Stephen Wadsworth on his effervescent production of Noël Coward’s Design for Living, which was a co-production with Seattle Rep.

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--The Taming of the Shrew, Act II, scene i