Wesleyan portrait of Katie  Pearl

Katie Pearl

Assistant Professor of Theater


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BA University of Washington
MFA Brown University

Katie Pearl

Katie Pearl’s work ranges from conventional plays to community-wide collaborations to experimental performances. Areas of expertise: site-specific theater, socially engaged art, civic practice, environmental issues.

Pearl’s professional practice is motivated and shaped by the conviction that personal encounter and creative exchange are essential to a humane world. Her core interest is the dynamic and shifting nature of the relationships that make up a performance event and their ability to shift perception and catalyze action. As she seeks to spark the flexible thinking and trust in imagination so often devalued in today’s divisive society, she asks: how can live performance move her and her audiences towards connectivity and community?

Katie Pearl is a director, playwright, and performer. She joins the Wesleyan faculty as the co-Artistic Director of the Obie-winning PearlDamour, a company with a 20-year history of pushing the boundaries of theatrical convention. PearlDamour has garnered recognition and support from major institutions such as the NEA (Our Town grant), the Creative Capital Foundation, and the Multi-Arts Production (MAP) Fund. PearlDamour projects are genre-defying, community building, and adventurous—from the 8-hour performance installation How to Build a Forestinspired by Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil spill and devised for traditional theatre stages; to Lost in the Meadow, created for a forty-acre hillside at Longwood Botanical Gardens outside Philadelphia, fancifully exploring the short-sightedness of humans; to the 5-town, 5-year MILTON, our performance and community engagement project created for and with small towns named Milton in order to discover what it means to be an American.

Commissions include Trinity Rep, The American Repertory Theater, The Kitchen, and PS122. Pearl has been a Berkeley Rep Ground Floor and SPACE at Ryder Farm artist. She was the 2017 Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton and a visiting lecturer at Harvard, where her teaching and research focused on the concept of the Artist-Citizen. Pearl has also built a reputation as a director skilled with conventionally produced, scripted plays: from Maria Irene Fornes’s What of the Night?, which she recently directed as the Quinn Martin Guest Chair of Directing at UCSD with a team of MFA actors and designers; to William Inge’s Bus Stop, made with undergraduates at Whitman College; to the site-specific Red Hills, about the Rwandan Genocide, created in the gutted 9th floor of a Wall Street office building for En Garde Arts in NYC. Current/upcoming works focus on civic and environmental crises, including Ocean Filibuster, set to premiere at the American Repertory Theater in 2020, and OK OK, designed for small civic venues in cities across the U.S.

Pearl received her BA from the University of Washington (Drama) and her MFA from Brown University (Writing for Performance). She is an alum of the Drama League and a member of SDC.

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

T/TH 1-2:30


Fall 2019
THEA 245 - 02
Acting I

THEA 390 - 01
Performance Ensemble