Melissa Owens Kaley

Associate Professor of Theatre, Interim Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance

Melissa Owens Kaley is the resident Studio Acting professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance, where, in addition to a wide variety of performance-related courses, she also teaches Performance Studies, Costume Design, Introduction to Theatre, and multiple international Study-Travel Theatre courses.

Professor Owens Kaley came to Converse in 2012, and has served the department as Chair for six years leading the programmatic planning and assessment for Theatre, Musical Theatre, and Dance. She received her BA degree in English Literature and Drama from LeMoyne College, her MA degree in Theatre from Miami University, and her MFA in Theatre Performance from Kent State University.

Scholarly & Research Activity

Melissa Owens Kaley has worked professionally for over 30 years as a Theatre actor, educator, director, and designer. A member of Equity/AEA, her representative career acting roles include: Anne Collier in The 1940s Radio Hour, Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain, Elizabeth in The Crucible, Mrs. Anna in The King and I, Marmee in Little Women, Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, and Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel at Virginia’s Barter Theater, where she spent five years as a resident company member.

An award-winning teacher, Professor Owens Kaley received the 2021 Cato Award for Faculty Excellence from Converse and two 2019 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Awards for Excellence in Directing and Excellence in Playwriting for her new adaptation of Lady Gregory’s The Dragon. Her Theatre Converse directing credits include the musicals Urinetown and an all-female 1776, as well as Dancing at Lughnasa, Thom Pain (based on nothing), and The Tempest; as the resident Costume Designer she has also designed and/or built the costumes for over 40 Converse productions.

Known for her passion for developing the individual artist’s voice while joyfully collaborating in an inclusive creative ensemble, Owens Kaley embraces a visionary and practical methodology, the Michael Chekhov Acting technique, teaching annually with the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium (GLMCC). She regularly attends state, national, and international theatre conferences such as the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the Michael Chekhov Association (MICHA), the South Carolina Theatre Association (SCTA) and the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC), frequently presenting Acting and Directing workshops and panels.

“I’m excited to share with you the transformative work of Michael Chekhov, whose technique teaches theatre practitioners to ‘find the way from the Imaginative to the actual.’” – Professor Melissa Owens Kaley


  • MFA in Theatre Performance - Kent State University
  • MA in Theatre - Miami University
  • BA in English Literature and Drama - LeMoyne College