Kari Barclay

(they/them, he/him)

  • Assistant Professor of Theater

Areas of Study


  • PhD, theater and performance studies, Stanford University, 2021
  • BA, theater studies and political science, Duke University 2016


Kari Barclay is a writer, director, and researcher working at the intersection of performance and politics. They have created productions regionally and in New York at venues including the San Francisco Mime Troupe, MirrorBox Theater, and Manbites Dog. Their original play CAN I HOLD YOU? was the first full-length piece about asexuality performed in the U.S. and enjoyed a sold-out run in San Francisco and workshop in New York. Their newest play STONEWALLIN’ is the winner of the Southern Queer Playwriting Festival and is under a yearlong development process in Richmond, VA.

Kari’s research interests include theater history, queer and trans performance, gender and sexuality studies, applied theater, and asexuality studies. Their book project, Directing Desire, examines the rise of intimacy directing, consent-based approaches to staging sex and sexuality in contemporary theater. Kari has trained with Claire Warden, Tonia Sina, Adam Noble, Chelsea Pace, Laura Rikard, and other artists who choreograph intimacy for Broadway and HBO alike. They integrate this work in theory and practice to advance racial and gender equity in the entertainment industry.

Kari earned their PhD in theater and performance studies at Stanford University in 2021. Their writing has been published in The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Arab Stages, and Theatre Bay Area.

Spring 2024

Individual or Group Projects — THEA 225
Analyzing Modern and Contemporary Theater — THEA 253
Playwrighting Workshop — THEA 265
Theater Senior Project - Full — THEA 425F
Theater Senior Project - Half — THEA 425H

Fall 2024

Individual or Group Projects — THEA 225
Foundations of Theater — THEA 252
Dramaturgy & Theater Criticism — THEA 329
Theater Senior Project - Full — THEA 425F
Theater Senior Project - Half — THEA 425H


Kari Barclay New Book Published

October 4, 2023

Assistant Professor of Theater Kari Barclay's new book Directing Desire explores the rise of consent-based and trauma-informed approaches to staging sexually and sensually charged scenes for theater in the contemporary U.S., known as intimacy choreography. The book comes out in print October 25 but is available now for pre-order from Barnes and Noble and the e-book is available online now.

Kari Barclay Article Published in "Theatre Topics"

May 3, 2023

Assistant Professor of Theater Kari Barclay's newest article on asexuality in theater was recently published in March 2023's Theatre Topics. The article builds on their play, Can I Hold You?, which Kari wrote in 2018 and was one of the first plays to explore asexual identity.


College of Arts and Sciences Welcomes New Faculty for 2023-24

September 18, 2023

Students choose Oberlin—and thrive at Oberlin—because of the nurturing mentorship of the outstanding faculty who guide their learning. We are honored to welcome the newest additions to our faculty across the College of Arts and Sciences for 2023-24.