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Ken Martin Named New Clarence Brown Theatre Artistic Director and Head of the UT Department of Theatre

Ken Martin will join the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, August 1, 2022, as the new Clarence Brown Theatre artistic director and head of the Department of Theatre in the College of Arts and Sciences. Calvin MacLean, former artistic director and head, retired in August 2021.

“We are excited to welcome Professor Ken Martin to our Volunteer family,” said Theresa Lee, Herbert Family Dean, College of Arts and Sciences. “His more than two decades of experience in higher education theatre and as scenic designer in many theatres across the nation make him well-positioned to lead our theatre program at UT, as well as the Clarence Brown Theatre and company.”

Martin comes from the University of Missouri, at Kansas City, where he was the Patricia Mcllrath Endowed Professor and Chair of the Theatre Division.  His 26-year career in academia also included nearly 18 years serving as chair of the theater departments at both Coastal Carolina University and Ashland University in Ohio. Tremendously successful as an administrator at both institutions, Martin navigated curricular revisions and development, managed resources effectively and efficiently, successfully supervised personnel, created innovative collaborations, cultivated significant enrollment growth, authored self-studies for NAST accreditation, and forged international partnerships.

“Theatre is a highly collaborative art form, so bringing in a new leader will have a huge impact on everything we do,” said Casey Sams, interim department head. “Working with Ken will bring new energy and new ideas into both our productions and our classrooms, and we are excited to get started!”

A member of United Scenic Artists, his scenic designs have been seen at The Sacramento Theatre Company, Cleveland Ensemble Theatre, Contemporary American Theatre Company and many others. He has also scenic designed shows for many colleges and universities including Marquette University, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Coastal Carolina University, Cuyahoga Community College, and The Ohio State University. Martin has actively served his profession as a respondent for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festivals, as a consultant for several regional theaters and through active participation in organizations like the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and the South Carolina Theatre Association.

“In addition to being eminently qualified on paper and in practice, Ken Martin is an engaging and compassionate human being and theatre artist,” said Tom Cervone, managing director of the Clarence Brown Theatre. “During his brief, yet impactful, visit during the interview process, Ken encouraged all to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. And he responded intelligently and proactively. I look forward to being his partner, his colleague, and his friend.”

Search committee members included Chair Jeff Pappas, director of the School of Music, and Tom Cervone, Katie Cunningham, Joe Payne, and Courtney Jo Sandidge.

“The Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee is among the most respected professional training programs in the country.  This is the opportunity of a lifetime.  I cannot wait to work alongside the students, staff and faculty and become a member of the Volunteer family,” said Martin.