Photo of Kenneth L. Stilson

Kenneth L. Stilson, M.A., Ph.D.

Professor - Acting, Directing, and Department Chair
Office: RCS  452

Kenneth L. Stilson is best known as the author of the classic text, Acting Is Believing, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th editions, with Larry D. Clark and the late Charles McGaw, which has been adopted by more than 150 universities and colleges around the world.

Professor of Acting, Directing and Musical Theatre and Chair of the Conservatory of Theatre & Dance in The Earl & Margie Holland School of Visual & Performing Arts at Southeast Missouri State University, Kenn played an instrumental role in building the professional training programs in theatre and dance at Southeast, which recently received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).

As a professional director, writer, and actor, Kenn has worked in such theatres as the Lincoln Center (NYC), American Academy of Dramatic Art/Hudson Theatre (Hollywood, CA), Southern Repertory Theatre (New Orleans), Le Petite Theatre (New Orleans), Alabama Lyric Theatre, Stage West Theatre (Ft. Worth), Shakespeare in the Park (Ft. Worth), First Run Theatre (St. Louis), MU’s Summer Repertory Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, Mississippi Shakespeare Festival and the Last Frontier Theatre Festival (Alaska). From Shakespeare to modern musicals and plays, he has also directed over 55 university theatre productions for Southeast Missouri State University, Texas Wesleyan University, Texas Woman’s University, Stetson University, The University of South Alabama, and The University of Missouri-Columbia. He has been an acting coach for 23 years, and he has many former students working professionally in theatre, film, and television, including two who have recently won Obie Awards and Tony Awards.

Kenn directed and co-wrote the feature film, Fire Lily, for Victory Film Productions. The film is based on his own play, Where the Lilies Grow, winner of the Critic’s Choice Award at the Edward Albee/Yukon Pacific New Play Lab. The film went on to win Best Feature Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Actress at the American Artist Film Festival (KC/NYC/LA), and it was an official entry at the Lakeside Film Festival in Michigan. He has also published a biography of Ezra Stone (aka. Radio’s Henry Aldrich), as well as numerous national and international articles on acting and theatre. His play, The Cow and the Milk, was produced as part of the Mizzou New Play Series and The Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, AK and was recently selected as part of Focus Publishing’s anthology, Best Monologues from the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, 2009-2012. His most recent play, Murphy’s Law, won three major playwriting awards: 6th Annual Southwest Playwriting Competition (AEA), the First Run Theatre’s 2013 Annual Playwriting Festival, and Excellence in Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, where it was recently presented as part of the Regional VI annual festival.

Kenn received his Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1991 and his MA in Theatre in 1987, where he studied under the tutelage of Dr. Larry D. Clark.


Janice Bittle
River Campus Seminary 454
Conservatory of Theatre and Dance
One University Plaza, MS 7850
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701