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5 Questions with Faculty: Karla Kash

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 29, 2017) — Karla Kash joined UAlbany's College of Arts and Sciences this fall as an associate professor and Theatre Program director and producer. A professional actor, director, choreographer and fight director, Kash spent the past 10 years as head of the BFA Musical Theatre Program at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

She said she was initially drawn to UAlbany because of its proximity to New York City and Boston. Her reasons for joining the University changed as soon as she interviewed.

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Actor and choreographer Karla Kash joined the Theatre Program this fall, as director, producer and associate professor.

“The faculty are incredible artists and human beings,” she said. “Then I met the students, and they were and are so kind, curious and fun. The administrators made me feel welcome during my interview as well, and continue to. I love the diversity at this school and the opportunity to work with students, faculty and staff from so many different backgrounds.”

What are you working on now?

Currently, I am working on the musical Hair. I am the choreographer of our production here at UAlbany. I am thrilled to be working on this musical that was so ground breaking when it first premiered 50 years ago but is also still so relevant today.

What made you decide to pursue your field or specialty?

I grew up singing, dancing, acting, choreographing and directing from a very early age. Theater was my love, my passion and my reason for waking up in the morning. I did not know until late in my senior year of high school that I could major in theatre so it took me awhile to find the right school and program to study. I am so grateful that I earn my living as a theater artist and educator.

Who is someone who influenced you?

I have been really lucky to have so many incredible mentors over the years. However, most important have been the women in the theater that I have worked with. Theater is still a very male-dominated profession, especially for directors. Learning how to pave my way in this career from the many strong, intelligent, talented and giving women that have mentored me has been the greatest gift.

What do you see as the challenges confronting those in your field?

This is a great question. Well, being a theater artist is so hard. It is not a clear and cut-and-dry career path. It is always challenging. Theater artist are freelancers always looking for the next gig. It is a lifestyle some can handle and some cannot. We are saturated with actors, so it is always harder for them.

Then there is the issue that there are so many female actors and there are fewer parts for them so it is even more challenging for actresses.

The other variable is, our country is changing and the theater has to change with it. When I went to school, I studied plays by old (often deceased) mostly straight, white men. This is the cannon that has been taught in theater training programs for years. But our world doesn’t look like that anymore and our students and audiences deserve to hear more voices. We need to continue to support underrepresented groups as playwrights, actors, producers and all various types of theater artists.

Dinner tonight with anyone, living or not: Who, and why?

Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is the creator of the musical sensation Hamilton for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Awards for Best original Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Musical. Mr. Miranda has also won The MacArthur Genius Grant. Mr. Miranda is THE voice in contemporary musical theater and a truly remarkable person and I would give anything to be in his presence.

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