As a theatre educator, I primarily work with college and university students (including theatre majors, minors, and nonmajors) in performance-related coursework. Read my teaching philosophy and a few student testimonials below on this page.

A secondary area of educational expertise is working with K-12 students.

EDUCATION

  • MFA Acting
    Florida Atlantic University
  • BA Theatre: Performance, Music
    University of Northern Iowa

CURRENT APPOINTMENTS

Above: With co-instructor Mark Parrott and UNI students from Foundations of Theatre, Spring 2017.

Below: Voice & Diction students at Coe College warming up at the beginning of class, Fall 2019.

Above: Leading a talkback for middle school students after a performance of Out of Bounds (youth version) with Working Group Theatre – Iowa Tour, 2015.

Below: With elementary and middle school students in Buffalo, NY after leading a forum theatre workshop in conjunction with Out of Bounds (full-length version) with Working Group Theatre – National Tour, 2016.

Above: Iowa Conservatory acting students playing theatre games at Nolte Academy, Fall 2020.

Below: With Nolte Academy’s Junior Musical Theatre Intensive students after their final recital at the Coralville Performing Arts Center, Spring 2019.

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

I center my classroom around student growth. I support students in developing an understanding of their creative process, incorporating constructive feedback, and working collaboratively with others.

 

Equitable, anti-racist, consent-based, trauma-informed practices form the backbone of my teaching. Using the principles of UDL (Universal Design for Learning, as defined by David H. Rose, Ed.D. in 1990), I regularly revisit my syllabi, assignment breakdowns, and classroom practices to assess their accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion. I experiment with new material regularly and design new projects to respond to what is currently happening in the theatre world. Innovation involves risk, and I hold myself accountable when I make mistakes. I do not demand perfection from anyone, myself included, but I expect progress. When we know better, we must do better.

 

Like acting, teaching requires me to be mindful of how I impact my audience. I use my words carefully to model the curiosity and openness I want to impart to my students. I ask “what if…?” and make space for the students to contribute their ideas, and I reply with “yes, and…!” as often as possible. We discuss how this way of engaging with each other can strengthen both the creative impulse and the collaborative spirit.

 

The “language of critique” is one of the most vital aspects of my teaching. I challenge the usefulness of terms like “good and bad” or “right and wrong” when it comes to art, preferring phrases like this one from my former teacher Theodore Swetz: “It doesn’t have to be right, it just has to be fascinating!” I offer phrases (e.g., “This is what I saw…”) that enable my students and me to comment on the work with kindness and specificity, articulating observations and communicating individual impact without judgment. This framing acknowledges each student’s personal experience while honing their ability to analyze the effects of an artist’s choices on their audience. 

 

I often combine the acting techniques from my training and approach them from fresh angles, demonstrating the fluidity of the artistic process. For example, I teach students how infusing Meisner’s “repetition exercises” with Chekhov’s “archetypal actions” roots the work in their bodies. I assign comparison essays in which the students find common ground between two seemingly contradictory actor training systems, such as Strasberg and Meisner. My classroom functions as a laboratory where students can experiment with different tools, discover what works for them, and develop an appreciation for the merits of other approaches.

 

The topics covered in my classes are global in scope. For one example, when the students and I address the psychophysical acting approach of Michael Chekhov, we explore the roots of his techniques in African and Asian theatre. In another example, I show documentaries about performers from Noh and Kathakali theatre traditions, comparing the performers’ skills in concentration, specificity, and subtlety with those in modern disciplines, such as acting for the camera.

 

Regarding grading, I approach introductory classes differently than advanced coursework. I present beginner students with a pre-determined set of expectations and grading criteria. As the students progress through the program, I give them more autonomy. At every level, I prioritize transparency and clear communication. Using contract grading and community agreements enables me to open a discussion with advanced students in which I ask for their input on workload, classroom expectations, and evaluation standards. We work together to determine a system for grading, and ultimately the students evaluate their work according to the contract we create, defending their conclusions in a one-on-one conversation with me at the end of the term.

 

My teaching is rigorous and adaptable; I set the bar high and provide enough guidance and support for each student to reach their goals. Students leave my classroom with a complete toolbox and the critical thinking skills to use their tools creatively in our ever-changing world, whether they continue as professionals in the theatre industry or pursue another path.

Above: The cast of Anti-Racist Baby poses with the posters they made for their performance at Kimmel Auditorium (2021).

STUDENT TESTIMONIALS

"Good morning! I just wanted to say thank you. I love that you normalize talking about privilege with race, sexuality, gender and everything else, I love that you try to incorporate EVERYONE into your lessons/ talk about things and people/ disabilities that aren’t talked about as much as they should be, etc. I KNEW I’d Love having you as a professor. You’re great!"
Coe College Intro to Theatre Student
Email, 2020
"We talk about content a lot in class. We always know what is expected of us, and we go over the rules and guidelines for everything, which was really helpful especially when you haven't ever taken a class like this before. I think that Professor Hahn has an advantage because she has been in so many plays and musicals, and she really knows her content. I believe a class like this has students who are either 100% interested in it or not really at all. She did a very good job at making the class more than just lecture every day and got the 'not really at all' students more interested in it."
UNI Theatrical Arts & Society Student
Anonymous Evaluation, 2018
"Katy is exceptionally good at classroom management and at articulation of ideas and concepts. Whenever students got off task or began to speak out of turn, she was firm and respectful yet was consistent in making each and every student feel welcome and comfortable in class. Regarding her teaching of content, she put things in ways I had never thought of, and was able to use every single situation as a teaching and learning opportunity. No matter what happened, Katy was always on her toes and ready to use the class events in order to benefit everyone."
UNI Acting Student
Anonymous Evaluation, 2017
"Katy loves what she does so much. She is quick to pivot her teaching style to fit each individual student. Her problem solving and work ethic kinda scare me, but they are undoubtedly impressive."
UNI Directing Student
Anonymous Evaluation, 2022