Hampton University

faculty q&a

Dr. Karen T. Ward

Chair of the Department of Fine & Performing Arts


Dr. Karen T. Ward

As a producer, director, actress and professor, Dr. Karen Ward has dedicated her life to theater. Having received her Bachelor of Arts degree in drama and African and Afro-American studies, a Master of Fine Arts in acting and a Ph.D. in communication with an emphasis in theatre studies, Ward has many professional accomplishments under her belt.

Today, Ward serves as the chair of the HU Department of Fine and Performing Arts, and a professor, producer and director for The Hampton Players and Company. Ward’s productions include “The Wiz”, “Shakin’ the Mass Outta Misery”, and “The Little Shop of Horrors” her latest production is “A Love to Call My Own” in which she wrote the story, music and lyrics. The play, a sequel to the 2001 nationally toured production “Mama Dee’s Girls,” takes the audience on an emotional journey through the crises of life in the 21st century, with a mixture of R&B and gospel music.

Have you always wanted to produce and direct plays?
I have always had a desire to be involved in the arts. I believe the arts are the perfect vehicle to raise social consciousness, be political, and educate all while entertaining. People love attending plays and I love my involvement in them regardless of the function I serve…producer, director, actor …whatever.

What influenced your decision to do a sequel to the production, “Mama Dee’s Girls”?
The public. Audience members who had seen “Mama Dee’s Girls” would ask me to do the play again, saying, “Please bring it back.” When I responded that I was thinking about writing a sequel, the reaction was so positive that I finally sat down and started weaving the story. It wasn’t long before the pages started pouring out of me and the songs just wouldn’t stop coming. Hence, “A Love to Call My Own.”

How long have you and the cast been working on this production?
It took years to write the story and then years to re-write the story. We cast in January and rehearsed seven days a week from about 8 p.m. till 1:30 or 2 a.m. It’s pretty intense, but nothing good ever comes from taking shortcuts and without total commitment.

HU Players and Company has a lot of talented students. Did you find it easy to find the cast?
Casting is the most difficult part of directing. The cast of “A Love to Call My Own” was terrific and worked extremely well as an ensemble.

What do you find most rewarding about your job as a producer and director?
Working with a terrific staff that is committed and willing to work hard to see that the project is exceptional. The cast and crew make the production. They tell the story and dedicate themselves to the art.

Who is your favorite character in this play?
I love the characters in the play. They each bring something special to the story. I can’t wait to continue their sagas.

Out of all of the plays that your have produced at HU, do you have an all time favorite?
No favorites. I enjoy what I do and I love telling stories. I wait anxiously for the next opportunity to do so.

-Ronda Bryant