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Kelly Kerwin.

Kelly Kerwin Named New Artistic Director of Oklahoma City Rep

An experienced producer, particularly at New York’s Public Theater, Kerwin succeeds founding artistic director Donald Jordan.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.: The Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre (OKC Rep) and its board of directors have announced the selection of Kelly Kerwin as its new artistic director. She will succeed the company’s founding artistic director, Donald Jordan, who will transition to artistic director emeritus after June. 

“The vigorous national search resulted in more than 65 highly qualified candidates from across the United States,” said search committee chair Max Weitzenhoffer, chairman of Nimax Theaters, philanthropist, and OKC Rep Board member, in a statement. “We are impressed by Ms. Kerwin’s experience and vision and are excited to have her lead OKC Rep into the next generation.”

In a statement, Kerwin said, “My vision is to produce powerful and innovative works of theatre that will help us better understand our own humanity. I am honored to lead OKC Rep into the future, and I see this next phase as one that will be an expression of Oklahoma City’s ambition, creativity, and generosity of spirit. I’m so excited to be immersed in Oklahoma City’s thriving arts community.”

Kerwin will start in the job on July 6, and will be relocating from New York City, where she currently serves as associate producer for the Public’s Under the Radar Festival, and is also a line producer for plays and musicals in the Public’s five performance spaces. She also co-leads the Public’s Devised Theater Working Group, and is an adjunct professor at Connecticut College, where she teaches Theater and Culture. Kerwin earned a BFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Theatre School at DePaul University, and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama, where she received the Pierre-André Salim Prize. 

Kerwin has worked as an artistic leader, performance curator, director, dramaturg, and producer on the staff of Yale Repertory Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Atlantic Theater Company, the House Theatre of Chicago, and Chicago’s Collaboraction. She also helped establish, with Jane Beachy, Chicago’s Salonathon, a weekly series specializing in underground performance. As a dramaturg, she has worked on world premieres such playwrights as Ike Holter, Phillip Howze, Carly Mensch, Amelia Roper, and Emily Zemba. 

At the Public, she line produced Girl from The North Country, A Bright Room Called Day, Soft Power, The Line, We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time, and Mlima’s Tale. She also produced three Under the Radar Festivals.

“Kelly Kerwin is an extraordinary, sparkling jewel of a leader: brilliant, passionate, with exquisite taste and with inspiring gifts for both listening and leadership,” said Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis in a statement. “In her years at the Public, she made herself invaluable; I can only reconcile myself to her leaving by knowing that she is going to make great theatre in Oklahoma, and that her success there will be good for the entire field. (And good for the wonderful state where my great-grandparents and grandparents were born!) There is no leader in the American theatre who has more potential, or a brighter future.”

Said writer/director Whitney White, whose Capsule Kerwin produced in the most recent Under the Radar festival, in a statement, “Kelly is an artist and thinker who is always building new pathways—she is innovative, generous, and always puts the artists first. When I am working with her, I know that the work will be supported, and that my team will succeed.”

 The national search for a new artistic director was conducted by a broad-based committee of Oklahoma City community leaders and was chaired by Max Weitzenhoffer and assisted by Seth Gordon, Director-Helmerich School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma (OU) and OKC Rep board president Cliff Hudson.

Of Kerwin, founding artistic director Donald Jordan said in a statement, “In my time with her, she has shown the sense of service, commitment, artistic vision, professional excellence, and dedication needed to build upon our foundation and continue to lead the organization forward. I think the Rep and Oklahoma City are very lucky to have her!”

An award-winning, nationally recognized professional regional theatre, OKC Rep produced its first play in 2002 and has produced more than 85 productions since. It was the first theatre in Oklahoma City history to be join Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national association of leading professional theatres, in 2011, and it won the American Theatre Wing’s National Theatre Award in 2012.

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