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Kara-Lynn Vaeni

Assistant Professor

Kara-Lynn Vaeni is a new playwright and accomplished theatre and opera director, with a mission to work in and create anti-racist and anti-oppressive theatrical and educational spaces. She does this through continued engagement with anti-racist theatre education, and continuing education in theatrical intimacy best practices.

She writes physically impossible texts, starring womxn of all ages, races and body types. She directs new plays, re-imagined classical texts, musicals and opera. Her first play, Shape, won an NEA grant, was named to the 2020 Kilroys List and premiered to fantastic reviews under her direction at the Kitchen Theatre in New York in June 2021. Her second play, In Search of the Sublime, was commissioned by Stage West in Fort Worth, and premiered under her direction there in March 2021. She has directed plays in the DFW area at Dallas Theater Center, Stage West, Undermain, Theatre Three, Second Thought and Kitchen Dog.

Previous to her move to Dallas, Vaeni was the literary manager at the New Georges theater in NYC for seven years. In NYC she has directed at Cherry Lane, New Georges, WP Theater, HERE, BAM, Irondale, 3LD, Wild Project, The Flea, The Lark, New Ohio, Westminster Opera Theatre and The Kitchen. Nationally she has directed at Yale Repertory Theatre, where she worked on a premiere by Amy Herzog, choreographed by Tarell Alvin McCraney; South Coast Repertory Theatre; the McCarter Theatre; the Maltz Jupiter Theatre; and Montana Repertory Theatre, where she directed a national tour of Lost in Yonkers. Internationally, her work has been seen at Divadlo Oskar Nebdala in Tabor and at The Estates Theatre in Prague. Favorite collaborators include Marcus Gardley, Kara Lee Corthron, Christina Pumariega, Jake Jeppson, Michael Federico, Jen Fok, Chris Lane and Kristin Leahey.

She currently holds faculty positions at Yale University and SMU. She has also taught/directed at Princeton University, Mount Holyoke College, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Seton Hall, the University of Virginia, Hofstra University and Pace University.


M.F.A. in Directing, Yale School of Drama
B.F.A. in Acting, Hofstra University
Theatrical Intimacy Training: over 50 hours of accredited training
Anti-Racist Theatre and Education: Nicole Brewer, Dr. Della Mosley, Janet Helms and others

Professional Experience

Multiple years of freelance directorial work

Resident Director for the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at New York University, 2007-14

Resident Stage Director, Opera Slavica, New York, 2008-present

The Director Collective

Literary Manager of Obie Award-winning theatre company New Georges, New York, 2006-12

Member, SSDC (Stage Directors and Choreography), 2010-present

Selected Grants and Fellowships

Bel Geddes grant, with designer Nick Francone, to enhance Vaeni’s and Francone’s production of AliceGraceAnon by Kara-Lee Corthron

Presidential Public Service Fellowship, Yale University

Julian Milton Kaufman Memorial Prize for directing, Yale University

Vaeni’s innovative staging and use of contemporary dance for Opera Slavica’s Rusalka won her an extended invitation to perform from the Artistic Director of the Czech Center in New York.


THEA 2303-2304, Acting I and II
THEA 6313-6314, Acting V and VI
THEA 4309, Business and Professional Aspects of Theatre


National Endowment for the Arts
Kilroys List
Theatre Fellowship, New Public Theatre, London
Guggenheim Works & Process
New York Times Critic’s Pick for Jenufa at Opera Slavica, NYC
New York Times Critic’s Pick for Alice/Grace/Anon at Irondale, Brooklyn
Best Theatre Director, Dallas, Dallas Observer
Directed three of the “Top Ten Productions of 2019,” Dallas Observer
Featured speaker and stage director for playwright Suzan Lori Parks, Hofstra University
Member, Society of Directors and Choreographers


Areas of Study



Art History

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts




Undergraduate Studies

Graduate Studies

Classes (See Catalog)


Faculty and Staff

Opportunities for Non-Theatre Majors

Student Internships & Collaborations


Our Season