Meet Ms. Krantz

Meet+Ms.+Krantz

Gracie O'Leary, Editor

Actor. Director. Poet. Storyteller. Playwright. Photographer. These are just a few of the roles that Ms. Kara Emily Krantz plays in life. It’s her most recent role that brings her to Worcester Academy: Member of the WA Theater Faculty.

Ms. Krantz is an accomplished playwright/poet from Sturbridge. She self-produced her first play, ALL BARK, NO BITE, in 2016, which has gone on to be published and produced around the country. She earned an MFA from NHIA and penned six full-lengths, including YOU, ME, & ENNUI (which debuted at W Festival 2018), a screenplay, GRACE NOTE (Storypros International Winner), and her first original pilot, TRACE MEMORY (w/co-writer Amanda Kay Burdine). Over the summer, her short play, “Recess,” won the People’s Choice at the Hollywood Brisk Festival and has been produced in South Korea, Australia, and Japan. 

I sat down with Ms. Krantz to find out a little bit more about who she is, what brought her here, and her vision for the future of WA’s theater program.

When did you first know you wanted theater to be your future?

At the age of ten, I meticulously transcribed by pen the entire script, line and verse, to the movie version of Bette Midler’s Gypsy. I then proceeded to organize a vagrant theater troupe out of my three younger siblings, forcing them to enact all the roles I didn’t personally want to portray. I produced, cast, directed and starred in that first glorious show (but) it took me over another decade to realize and embrace the fact that the theater is my greatest joy. 

So you did not pursue theater as a career initially?

No, I didn’t. I was introduced to theater at a young age. My mom would bring me to all these plays to help me get “cultured” (her words) and I knew I wanted to be an actor. So I acted in college but only as an extracurricular activity because virtually everyone told me that there was no future in the arts and that I wouldn’t ever be able to get a job. I then majored in psychology. By 22, I had received both my undergraduate degree at Worcester State and an MA in Counseling Psychology from Assumption College.  I wasn’t doing a lot of theater at that time because I was so focused on my masters and becoming a psychologist. But then, I took a breath and realized I needed to slow down. I had hardly any life experience!

So how did you get life experience?

At 22, I packed my bags, I got in my car, I drove around the country for three months. That turned out to be an amazing experience that opened me up to life’s possibilities and the fact that we each get to define what our life looks like. That trip returned me to my artistic nature a bit more. I knew my calling was the arts. I had always loved theater. I had always acted. Then one day l got the chance to assistant direct and realized that I love that, as well. And then I got back to writing plays which is something I had really enjoyed since my teenage days.  

How did you make that transition to a career in the arts happen?

It wasn’t immediate. I took a job teaching at Southbridge High School as an English teacher. Unfortunately, the school was failing so the State took over, put us into receivership, and laid off most of the teachers.  Funny enough, I found an opening for a theater teacher at Worcester Academy and I applied. I didn’t get the job. They hired Ms. Jaz. I had really wanted the job so I asked them what I could do better. They said they loved me but they wanted someone with more of an academic background in the subject.  So I got off that phone call, looked up MFA programs, applied to New Hampshire Institute of Art, and two years later received my MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen.

And you actually became a playwright, correct? Tell me more about that work. 

Since I started writing plays, my work has been produced around the world, I’ve won awards, and I’m a two-time O’Neill  (National Playwrights Conference) semi-finalist, which is one of the highest awards for playwriting in the country. I also started  a small production company, Becoming More Productions, where my focus is on new writers and new work — both my own and others. I work with a troupe of actors and we read new plays together, give feedback, and develop them. 

What made you pursue teaching here at Worcester Academy?

The idea of combining my love of teaching with my love of theater is a dream come true. I get to work with the students here and make art — and that is a gift. It’s funny… in the five years since I first applied for that first theater teacher job here at Worcester I have consistently looked at the job board. I have checked in with the department, I have come to shows. I’ve always been interested in what’s going on here at Worcester Academy. 

Now that you are here, what are your plans for our theater program?

I really want to do ensemble plays that are not only fun but have literary merit — plays with language that is beautiful and enjoyable with roles that are meaty so the actors can really delve into them. It’s not unlike what Ms. Jaz was doing here — choosing really great plays that allow actors to grow. And since we are a school, after all, I’m big on process over product. Naturally I want the product, the final show, to be awesome. But more importantly, what gets us there? What are we learning? How are we growing? So, so many times in theater it’s just like this rush to the finish line and then it’s over in like a heartbeat and it’s like what just happened?  I think sometimes we miss out on being in the moments of learning, growing, discovery and laughter and all the things that get us to that product. The process should be just as wonderful — not just for the actors but the crew, as well. I want to make sure the whole company communicates with each other and are not just trying to check off their own checklists. I want us to create together.

Would you consider putting on any of your shows here?

I would love to direct my own shows at WA, but want to ensure it’s in the best interest of the students. One idea I have is to host staged readings of plays to give the student body easy access to new and interesting works – plays we could enjoy hearing and consider producing ourselves. Actually, my ten-minute play, “Recess” – I wrote that play specifically for Mr. Plante! He starred in it and we won an award for Best New Play. So yes, who knows, maybe one of my shows will go up at Worcester Academy one day.