Kathleen Coombs (formerly Kate Sullivan Gibbens) is a writer, director, composer, and performer living in Chicago. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from UCLA, a BA in theatre studies from Emerson College, and a handy CPR certification from the Red Cross. Oh, and she’s a certified yoga teacher, a member of the Dramatists Guild, and proud alum of Directors Lab West, too. She most recently became the Chicago Resident Director/General Manager for Drunk Shakespeare and has been commissioned to write a new children’s play based on an old tale.
While working toward her MFA, Kathleen co-wrote "8, The Play" with Dustin Lance Black. Directed by Joe Mantello, "8" debuted at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre in 2011, starring a lot of famous people. To her amazement, in 2012, it was followed by a Los Angeles benefit starring even more famous people.* Kathleen also produced and directed the Sacramento premier of "8," which has now been performed in hundreds of cities across America.
Her most play, "click" (LATC Playwrights Festival) was presented as a reading in August 2018 at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Earlier in 2018, she was commissioned to write a modern feminist re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, called “Beauty and Bea,” which debuted on the Girl Tales children’s podcast. In 2017, Kathleen was commissioned to write the feature screenplay, “Sakura (Blossom)” for Pocketwatch Studios.
As supported by a Lincoln City Fellowship Grant, Kathleen is currently writing the book for the new musical “Life Sentence” along with songwriter Patrick Burns. Other written works include the commissioned original musical, "Sat Nam: a Story of Sex, Love, and Yoga," (LA Workshop), "The Great Buford Fire Funnel" (Francis Ford Coppola One-Act Festival), and "Cuore Mio – My Heart" (DC Source Festival). A newly-conceived chamber version of the “Sat Nam” is currently in development.
Kathleen is the creator and Artistic Director of The Album Project, where she has curated and directed stagings of "Rumours," "Jagged Little Pill,"and "Ed Sheeran's +." In 2016, Kathleen directed “Avenue Q” at Redhouse Arts Center, which received 9 SALT Award nominations, including Best Musical and Best Director of a Musical. Additionally, Kathleen has directed "Legally Blonde, Jr." with TexARTS, which garnered a Broadway World Award nomination for Best School Production, "Spring Awakening" with glory|struck productions (StageSceneLA award – Best Direction) and the immersive cabaret send-up "A Day at The Beaches" in Los Angeles. Kathleen was also nominated for Broadway World Awards for Best Choreography and Best Cast of a Musical for “First Date” (Austin Theatre Project).
Leading undergraduate courses in playwriting at UCLA sparked Kathleen’s love of teaching. She has since taught playwriting workshops to both beginners and professionals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Texas. Lectures and workshops have included “The Room Where It Happens: Putting Your Stories Onstage” (DFW Writers Conference), “Writers’ Workshop for Foster Alumni” (Beyond Emancipation Oakland), and “Writing the One-Act Play” (Austin Public Library). She is currently developing a series of yoga classes for writers and actors. Kathleen also works as a freelance script consultant and artist coach.
Kathleen believes in the power of representation. Her work focuses on inclusion while exploring topics such as equality, justice, memory, and identity.
*New York Famous People: Matt Bomer, John Lithgow, Bradley Whitford, Anthony Edwards, Christine Lahti, Rob Reiner, Larry Kramer, and others. Kathleen did, in fact, freak out over this cast.
LA Famous People: Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon,** Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jane Lynch, Chris Kolfer, Rory O'Malley, John C. Reilly and more. More freaking out occurred here.
** Yes. She is one degree away from Kevin Bacon.