Philippa Kelly

Dramaturg: King Lear

Philippa Kelly, PhD, has served for 13 years as Resident Dramaturg for the California Shakespeare Theater, and as Production Dramaturg for several Bay Area theaters including Remote Theater, the San Francisco Playhouse, Magic Theater (workshop dramaturg), the Oakland Theater Project, the San Francisco Playhouse, and the Aurora Theater. She’s also currently working on docent and pre-show speaker-training with the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Marin Shakespeare Theater. In many projects Philippa blends her background as a classical dramaturg with her passion for new works. 

Philippa thoroughly enjoys the collaborative aspect of dramaturgy, and is often invited to contribute materials to dramaturgy teams, such as the Berkeley Repertory Theater (program article for Ghostlight, audience toolkit writer for Anna Deavere Smith’s School-to-Prison Pipeline project), the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Merry Wives of Windsor playbill), Magic Theater (playwright interviews), and various Cal Shakes production teams where we’ve brought in a non-resident lead dramaturg. Philippa’s contribution to the Play-On Lear team has been ongoing since 2018 (she’s also working as dramaturg on a new Gardley project, due to premiere in late 2024.)  

Philippa has been awarded many scholarships and fellowships by foundations such as the Commonwealth Awards (Junior Scholar), the Walter and Eliza Hall Foundation (Junior Scholar), the Fulbright Foundation (Senior Fellow), the Rockefeller Foundation (Senior Fellow), and the University of New South Wales (Visiting Senior Fellow). She’s also been awarded grants from the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (National Bly Award for Innovation in Dramaturgy), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the California Arts Council, the Walter and Elise Haas Foundation, and the Australian Research Council.  

Philippa has also done a lot of work, on both commissioning and volunteer bases, with Bay Area high schools and with prison education. As a scholar, Dr. Kelly has published 11 books with international presses including Halstead Press, Oxford University Press, Ashgate Press, Arden Press, Routledge Press, and the University of Michigan Press. Her Arden book, The King and I, is closest to her heart, illuminating King Lear through the lens of Australia’s history of outcasting. In 2020 she published Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in Contemporary Dramaturgy: Case Studies from the Field (Routledge, associate editor Amrita Ramanan)Philippa has also written and published 48 internationally peer-reviewed articles and 52 professional playbill articles. She serves as Professor and Chair of English at the California Jazz Conservatory, and as Visiting Professor at San Jose State University and Northeastern University.