WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Folger Theatre has named Karen Ann Daniels their new artistic director and director of programming. Daniels, the current director of the Mobile Unit at the Public Theater, will lead the vision and strategy for cultural programming across the Folger, including theatre performances, concerts, poetry readings, talks, screenings, and other humanities programs. She succeeds Janet Alexander Griffin, who retired in spring 2021.
“I’m delighted that Karen Ann Daniels is bringing her talents and experience to the Folger,” said Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Library, in a statement. “She will bring her own deeply inclusive vision of Shakespeare to the work of Folger programs, connecting more deeply with D.C. communities and combining our public offerings in new and exciting ways that build on the rich history of Folger public programs.”
Daniels has brought theatre and the arts to community centers and other spaces across New York City in her role at the Public, and is currently overseeing the Mobile Unit’s Summer of Joy, a free four-week tour to public plazas in all five boroughs in partnership with the National Black Theatre, the New York City Department of Transportation, and the People’s Bus. She has also launched new programs, such as Mobile Unit in Corrections: Hip-Hop vs. Shakespeare, which brings the tools of theatre to incarcerated communities. In her prior role as associate director of the Old Globe’s arts engagement department, Daniels managed community partnerships and created, piloted, and implemented programs such as community play devising workshop and Reflecting Shakespeare, which brought Shakespeare to incarcerated communities.
An accomplished actor, director, playwright, and musician, Daniels was recently a visiting artist at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., where she co-devised a digital musical with theatre students, Gather ‘Round, that premiered last April. In 2019 her musical The Ruby in Us premiered with the Old Globe’s coLAB project, which she co-created. A former chair of of City of Chula Vista’s Cultural Arts Commission and seat holder on the New California Arts Fund Leadership Committee, Daniels is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, holds an MFA in musical theatre from San Diego State University, and received a certificate in Shakespeare from the British American Drama Academy. She will begin at the Folger in October while serving as a 2021 Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity.
“I believe the humanities and arts, particularly theatre, are essential to evolve our ideological, emotional, and human connection, especially now,” Daniels said in a statement. “Ensuring these resources are available to all of D.C. is vital. I am so proud to join the Folger, as it is uniquely positioned to fill that need.”
The Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, welcoming millions of visitors each year online and in-person. The Folger aims to allows visitors to experience the power of performance, the wonder of exhibitions, and the excitement of path-breaking research.
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