Kathy A. Perkins

Kathy A. Perkins

Emeritus Faculty — Lighting Design/MA and Ph.D. Faculty

University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) 1978 Theatre – Lighting Design [MFA]

Howard University (Washington, D.C.) 1976 Drama {BFA]

USAA  829

  Specialties: Africa/African Diaspora Theatre, Women of Color, Lighting Design


(Representative Listing)
St. Louis Black Repertory Company – Artistic Director: Ron Himes
Black Eagles, A Soldier’s Play, I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinkin’
Badges, One Mo’ Time, Joe Turner’s Come & Gone, Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery, The Piano Lesson, Flyin’ West, Oedipus, When the Chickens Come Home to Roost, In White America, Williams and Walker, Train Is Comin’, Eubie, The Wiz, The Dance on Widow’s Row, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Dawn Yankees, Intimate Apparel, Dreamgirls, Ain’t MisBehavin’, Othello, Ruined, Anne & Emmett, Miss Julie, Clarissa and John, Torn Asunder

What the Critics Say


“Morisseau uses the generational divide — nicely demarcated by Shilla Benning’s period costumes and Kathy A. Perkins’ dreamlike lighting — to suggest how inherited traits, and traumas, affect an entire lineage.”

The Philadelphia Enquirer on Mud Row at People’s Light

“Kathy Perkins’ stellar lighting makes the transitions between time periods seamless and brings Michael Carnahan’s thoughtful set design to life.”

Talkin’ Broadway on Mud Row at People’s Light

“while Kathy A. Perkins’ lighting and Christian Frederickson’s sound design solidified the tragic beauty of the design work. We have come, over the years, to expect such high quality at Actors Theatre, but this production forcefully reminds us again.”

Broadway World on Seven Guitars (Actors Theatre of Louisville)

“Seven Guitars opens on that backyard, ramshackle but also artfully crafted with splashes of color and sculptural shadow by scenic designer William Boles and lighting designer Kathy A. Perkins.”

The Courier-Journal on Seven Guitars (Actors Theatre of Louisville)

“…..but Randolph-Wright keeps separating out every memory of fantasy passage with heavy-handed underscoring and dramatic lighting effects (by Kathy A. Perkins) on Alexander V. Nichols’ stunningly claustrophobic shack set.”

San Francisco Chronicle on Blood Knot (American Conservatory Theatre)

“A many-shelved, tome-crammed bookcase reaches toward the heavens between a long, curved ram and a cloudy night sky, painted in dawn, dusk and sultry daytime hues by Kathy A. Perkins’ lights.”

San Francisco Chronicle on The Blue Door (Berkeley Repertory)

“Under Mr. Sullivan’s direction ‘In Real Life’ has been buffed to a high professional sheen, with John Lee Beatty’s stylishly stark red set brought to remarkably varied life by Kathy A. Perkins’ lighting.”

The New York Times on In Real Life (Manhattan Theatre Club)

“Jack Magaw’s homespun set and the rich all-encompassing sunsets created by Kathy A. Perkins’ lighting design create an environment that is cozy but with hints of vastness just beyond the horizon.”

Chicago Tribune on Flyin’ West (Court Theatre)

“Director Ron OJ Parson (who staged a superb revival of August Wilson’s Fences at the Court last season) has elicited lovely performances from his cast, with a richly realistic set by Jack Magaw beautifully lit by Kathy A. Perkins.”

Chicago Sun Times on Flyin’ West (Court Theatre)

“The action, played out against an attractive set by Chris van den Berg, admirably lit by Kathy A. Perkins, is arresting, often surprising and very funny.”

The Citizen (Johannesburg, South Africa) on Hang on In There

“Beatty’s lovely set is treated to a busy but attractive lighting design by Kathy A. Perkins”

Los Angeles Times on In Real Life (Mark Taper Forum)

“….the physical production is very strong. Scenic designer Todd Rosenthal’s combination interior/exterior settings are artfully gritty and everything else looks right, from Myrna Colley-Lee’s costumes to Kathy A. Perkins’ lighting.”

Chicago Tribune on Wedding Band (Steppenwolf)

“…the play swirls about in a surrealistic frenzy, and the production, in the Goodman Studio, is able to suggest every bit of the drama’s quicksilver shifts in time and emotion through its complex scenic, lighting, slide projection and sound design.”

Chicago Tribune on Let Me Live (Goodman)

“Beautifully lighted by Kathy A. Perkins against an attractive red backdrop designed by John Lee Beatty.”

Seattle Union Record on In Real Life (Seattle Repertory)

“The lighting designs by Kathy A. Perkins are remarkable. It’s a pleasure at last to see designs that contribute to the tone and illuminate the dancers’ bodies in a three-dimensional space.”

Los Angeles Herald Examiner on Otis Sallid: A Night for Dancing (Los Angeles Theatre Center)

“Jim Kenny’s set and Kathy Perkins’ lights create a teasingly puzzling opening that only in retrospect is naturalistic.”

Los Angeles Times on Win/Lose/Draw (Hollywood Skylight Theatre)

“Martyn Bookwalter’s set is austere and authentic, while Kathy A. Perkins’ lighting design adds to the eerie and menacing effect of things.”

The Hollywood Report on The Birthday Party (Los Angeles Theatre Center)

“Nicole Morin’s costumes beautifully complements the characters while Kathy A. Perkins’ lighting illuminates the figures as if they’re prisoners in an interrogation cell.”

Los Angeles Herald Examiner on The Birthday Party (Los Angeles Theatre Center)

“It’s all evocatively lit in urban night tones by Kathy Perkins.”

Los Angeles Herald Examiner on Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Cast at the Circle)

“Better are Kathy A. Perkins’ lights which help maneuver the many sketches from place to place.”

Los Angeles Drama Logue on Beyond the Fringe (Los Angeles Theatre Center)

“Douglas D. Smith’s multi-level set well lit by Kathy A. Perkins”

Los Angeles Times on The Triumph of the Spider Monkey (Los Angeles Theatre Center)


Perkins is the editor of Black Female Playwrights:An Anthology of Plays before 1950 (1989), Black South African Women: An Anthology of Plays (1998), African Women Playwrights(2008) and Alice Childress: Selected Plays (2011). She is co-editor of Contemporary Plays by Women of Color (ATHE 1996 Outstanding Theatre Book Award) and Strange Fruit: Plays on Lynching by American Women (1996).







In 1995 she co-curated ONSTAGE: A Century of African American Stage Design at New York’s Lincoln Center. Perkins has traveled extensively throughout Africa and the Caribbean as both a designer and lecturer. 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), Money for Women Fund, United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT,) and various University of Illinois awards, including University Scholar.

Perkins has designed lighting for productions throughout the U.S., Europe, and South Africa. She has worked at such regional theatres/venues as American Conservatory Theatre (ACT), Berkeley Repertory, Seattle Repertory, St. Louis Black Repertory, Alliance, Carnegie Hall, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Congo Square, Manhattan Theatre Club, Alabama Shakespeare, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), New Federal Theatre, Mark Taper, Studio Arena, Indiana Repertory, Court, Penumbra, and Victory Gardens. For two seasons, she was the resident lighting designer for the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC). She is the recipient of such design awards as NAACP Image, Chicago’s Black Theatre Alliance, and Woodie Award, and was a nominee for the L.A. Ovation Award and New York’s Audelco.

Perkins has served as a board member /advisory member for USITT, URTA, New World Theatre, Congo Square, and The History Makers. In 2007 she was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.