Kelly Howe, Ph.D.
Title/s: Associate Professor of Theatre
Specialty Area: Theatre Theory, History, and Criticism
Office #: Mundelein 1305
Dr. Kelly Howe teaches courses in theatre theory, history, criticism, and dramaturgy. She is a scholar/teacher/artist/organizer whose research and practice focus on the following areas of study: Theatre of the Oppressed; histories of theatre for social change/political theatre; activism and protest as performance; feminist, queer, Marxist, and critical race theories; critical pedagogy; dramaturgy, devising, and new play development/direction.
Howe co-edited (with Julian Boal and José Soeiro) The Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed (Routledge, 2019) and (with Julian Boal and Scot McElvany) Theatre of the Oppressed in Actions (Routledge 2015; a DVD and accompanying collection of short essays). Her research currently follows two core lines of inquiry: the first examines aspects of Theatre of the Oppressed as a form of organizing in contexts of neoliberalism; the second examines radical performances for reproductive justice and other forms of health care in the US post-2010. Howe’s writing also appears in Theatre Journal, Theatre Topics, Theatre Survey, Text and Performance Quarterly, Comparative Drama, etc. Most recently, she wrote (as part of the Humanities and Human Flourishing Project at the University of Pennsylvania) about Theatre of the Oppressed’s insistence that oppressed peoples have a right to far more than mere survival (forthcoming) and interviewed Julian Boal about the work of La Escola de Teatro Popular (The School of Popular Theatre, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in contemporary Brazilian political context for Theatre Topics (November 2019).
Howe served two terms as President of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. (PTO) and remains on PTO’s board of directors. She has co-chaired and organized three of PTO’s international conferences: Austin 2010, Chicago 2011, and Chicago 2015. In collaboration with members of Chicago Workers’ Collaborative and other local artists/educators, she is co-0rganizing PTO’s 25th conference in Chicago 2020, to be held at Loyola University Chicago. Howe co-organizes (with Willa Taylor and Jasmin Cardenas) a Chicago collective focused on the intersection of Theatre of the Oppressed and activism. Some other recent contexts of her facilitation work include Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana, USA), Institut für Schulentwicklungsforschung (Center for Research and School Development, Technical University of Dortmund, Germany), and meetings of the Workers’ Theatre Collective of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative (Chicago, Illinois, USA) and Trabajadores Temporales de Lake County (Temporary Workers of Lake County, Waukegan, Illinois, USA).
Howe is the current Vice President for Membership for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), and she was ATHE’s Vice President for Conference 2016, chairing ATHE’s 30th anniversary conference, “Bodies at Work: Performance, Labor, and ATHE @ 30,” in Chicago. She has served as the secretary for ATHE’s Theatre and Social Change focus group and presented often with ATHE’s focus groups in Women and Theatre (WTP) and Theory & Criticism. Howe has also presented numerous times on activist performance at the conferences of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR). She is an advisory board member of Jana Sanskriti International Research and Resource Institute, West Bengal, India.
Howe worked for several years as Resident Dramaturg and Director of New Play Development at The Other Theatre Company (Chicago), where she dramaturged Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, Yussef el Guindi’s Threesome, and Savanna Rae’s Daughters of Ire and directed Martín Zimmerman’s The Making of a Modern Folk Hero, Sarah Myers’ The Realm, and the development workshop for Bryan Renaud’s The Hole. She was a consulting dramaturg on A Broken Umbrella Theatre’s Freewheelers (New Haven, CT). Some other directing credits include: Gertrude Stein’s Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Ellen McLaughlin’s Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Juan Mayorga’s Way to Heaven, Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, George Brant’s Elephant’s Graveyard, Martín Zimmerman’s Phoenix Unforgiven, and The Eye & Tooth Project (co-directed with Kathleen Juhl). She supervises Loyola’s student dramaturgs and is the faculty founder and coordinator of Loyola’s Dramaturgy Working Group.
Howe previously taught in the theatre department at North Central College (where she was also the coordinator of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and faculty coordinator of the Safe Zone LGBTQIA ally education program) and at the University of Texas at Austin.
Ph.D. in Performance as Public Practice (Theory/History/Criticism), University of Texas at Austin
M.A. in Performance as Public Practice (Theory/History/Criticism), University of Texas at Austin
B.A. in Theatre and English, Muhlenberg College