About Kathy A. Perkins
Kathy A. Perkins is Professor Emerita (1989–2011) in lighting design and Africa/African Diaspora theatre. She joined the department to reinstate the MFA lighting design program, which she headed for twenty years. She developed new courses in African/African Diaspora theatre in addition to non-Western theatre courses.
In addition to productions at UIUC, Perkins has designed on Broadway and at such regional theatres as American Conservatory Theatre, Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory, Seattle Repertory, St. Louis Black Repertory, The Alliance, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Congo Square, Manhattan Theatre Club, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, New Federal Theatre, Definition Theatre, Mark Taper, Indiana Repertory, Writers Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Two Rivers Theatre, and Playmakers Repertory Company. She is the recipient of such design awards as NAACP Image Award, National Black Theatre Festival Award, and was a nominee for the L.A. Ovation Award. Internationally, she has designed in Switzerland, Austria, and South Africa.
Perkins edited Black Female Playwrights: An Anthology of Plays before 1950, Black South African Women: An Anthology of Plays, African Women Playwrights, Alice Childress: Selected Plays and Telling Our Stories of Home: International Performance Pieces by and about Women. She coedited Contemporary Plays by Women of Color (ATHE 1996 Outstanding Theatre Book Award) and Strange Fruit: Plays on Lynching by American Women. She is a senior editor for Routledge Companion to African American Theatre and Performance.
In 1995, Perkins co-curated ONSTAGE: A Century of African American Stage Design at New York’s Lincoln Center. In 2016, she served as theatre consultant for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) inaugural exhibition Taking the Stage. She is the recipient of numerous research awards, including the Ford Foundation, Fulbright, United States Information Agency (USIA), New York Times Company, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) and various University of Illinois awards, including University Scholar. She is the recipient of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Career Achievement Award in Academic Theatre and the USITT Distinguished Achievement Award in both Education and Lighting.
Perkins has traveled to over forty countries as both designer and lecturer. She has served as board member/advisory for USITT, URTA, Definition Theatre, and The History Makers. In 2007 she was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. She received her BFA in Drama from Howard University and her MFA in Lighting Design from the University of Michigan. In 2021 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. Perkins is Professor Emerita at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2011-2018). She continues to free-lance as a designer.