New Faculty Focus: Q&A with Baron Kelly

During the course of the academic year, we’ll be sharing out Q&As completed by our newest faculty members in an effort to introduce them to our campus and School of Education communities.

Name: Baron Kelly

Title: Professor, Department of Theatre and Drama. He holds a joint appointment with the Division of Continuing Studies’ Odyssey Project.

Hometown: New York and California.

Baron Kelly

Educational/professional background: Diploma in Acting from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; MFA Acting from California State University Long Beach; PhD Theatre University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Previous position: Head of Graduate Acting and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Louisville.

How did you get into your field of research? As a young child, I loved watching old movies on television and reading books on actors from Hollywood’s Golden Era to understand their journeys in the business.

What attracted you to UW-Madison? Being a top R1 institution, there are tremendous resources and a top-notch intellectual environment that is so stimulating to be a part of.

What was your first visit to campus like? My first visit was when I arrived on campus for my doctoral studies in 1999. I had traveled a lot in the U.S. as an actor, so I was interested what this academic journey was going to unfold for me.

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with? The students will learn from a four-time Fulbright scholar who will impart knowledge and history from his artistic and scholarly world travels.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? I have dedicated my life to helping people better themselves through theatre. Helping people to understand empathy and compassion.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter during video chats (and eventually parties)? I have been to Russia many times to research the relationship between the poet Taras Shevchenko and 19th century African American actor Ira Aldridge. Also, the relationship between Aldridge and the Jewish communities who saw his performances of Shakespeare’s Shylock.  Also, I have researched the Scandinavian theatre career of African American actor Earle Hyman.