Chair / Professor, Executive Director of The Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival — Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre & Dance
Kenneth L. Stilson is best known as the author of the classic text, Acting Is Believing, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th editions, with the late 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 Founding Chair of The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and 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.
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, California), The Gallery Players (NYC, Off Off-Broadway), 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, River Campus Summer Arts Festival, Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, Mississippi Shakespeare Festival, Last Frontier Theatre Festival (Alaska), and the River Campus Summer Arts Festival.
From Shakespeare to modern musicals and plays, he has also directed over 60 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 more than 25 years, and he has many former students working professionally in theatre, film, and television, including two who have won Obie 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, Alaska and was recently selected as part of Focus Publishing’s anthology, Best Monologues from the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, 2009-2012. His full-length comedy, 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 presented as part of the Regional VI annual festival. He recently completed writing the libretto for an original full-length dramatic musical, American Hero, accepted for Equity Staged Reading at The Gallery Players in NYC in 2016 and was produced at Southeast in 2017.
Kenn received his Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1991 and his M.A. in Theatre in 1987, where he studied under the tutelage of Dr. Larry D. Clark.