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Karen Byrnes has directed over 100 productions in the last 37 years. She's worked with youth at a variety of schools as well as various community theatres on the Peninsula.
For ten years, she taught drama, musical theatre and improvisation classes for Hillbarn Theatre’s Conservatory in addition to writing and directing A Foolish FairyTale, Dreamquest and More Broadway Legends. For Hillbarn’s Mainstage Theatre, she directed Deathtrap,Holes, The Secret Garden and DefyingGravity, which won the Subscriber’s Choice Award for Favorite Presentation of a Play in 2009. For NDNU's Labor Day Theatre Festival she directed: Breast Men, Lone Star,Talking With, Hoffa: The Musical, Lenten Pudding, Graceland, Ghost Stories, If You Were My Wife, I'd Shoot Myself, Jackie Kennedy, Amelia Lives!, New York Minute, among others.
In 2013, she created NDNU’s Labor Day Children’s Theatre Festival as a way to showcase original works that address environmental, justice, race and social issues. The Festival provides opportunities for nearly two dozen youth to be involved in live theatre with experienced adult performers acting as mentors. Karen wrote The Girl Who Believed in Unicorns, a short play that tells the story of a young girl who stands up for her beliefs and conveys a charming message about being steadfast. She also wrote “The Legendof the Secret Knight” a play with music that portrays a young girl aspiring to be a knight like her father who ultimately discovers a power far greater in herself than knighthood. A powerful message to conserve our resources, end violence and promote critical thinking underscores the play’s theme.
In addition, Karen wrote a personal narrative about a young girl’s relationship with her Russian grandmother, “Baba and Me.” The play is set in San Francisco from 1952-1963 and illustrates the importance of appreciating our grandparents, our family traditions and leaving a legacy.
"Susie Macaroni", "Camp Runnamuca" and "Ghost Light" were three other short plays she created for youth as well.
Karen directed Fiddler on the Roof, Jr., Anne of Green Gables, The Little Princess, Once Upon A Mattress, Heidi, Meet Me in St. Louis, Wizard of OZ,A Midsummer Night's Dream as well as several other productions during her 14 years at Ralston School.
Most recently, she wrote six short plays inspired by San Francisco legends, SF Ghost Plays, (2016)andWatch Yourself (2017)
Both performed at the Magic Theatre in SF.