Sam Kelley

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Dr. Sam Kelley
Born (1946-06-23) June 23, 1946 (age 68)
Tennessee, United States
Occupation Playwright and Professor
Nationality United States
Period 1970-present

Dr. Sam Kelley or Samuel Lawrence Kelley (born June 23, 1948) is a Distinguished Service Professor in Communication Studies and Africana Studies at the State University of New York College at Cortland.

Early years as Professor[edit]

Kelley earned a B.A. in Speech and Drama from the University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff, an M.A. in Speech from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and where he received an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. His earned a Ph.D. in Speech, with a concentration in Radio-TV-Film, from the University of Michigan.

His courses include Films of Spike Lee, African Americans in TV and Film, screenwriting, Human Communication, Interviewing, and advertising. Additionally, he directs the Communication Studies Internship Program.


His play, Pill Hill, caught the attention of theatre critics with its professional debut at the Yale Repertory Theatre’s Winterfest in 1990. Pill Hill has won numerous several awards and has been produced in theatres around the country. Among other works are Blue Vein Society, Thruway Diaries, White Chocolate, and Faith, Hope and Charity: The Story of Mary McLeod Bethune. His current works include Habeas Corpus, which is about the 1919 Elaine, Arkansas Race Riot in Phillips County, and Retirement Blues, a contemporary comedy about a couple adjusting to the husband’s first twenty-four hours in retirement. Dr. Kelley had the opportunity to see his work developed and produced in theatres across America: Yale Repertory Theatre; Yale Cabaret Theatre; Hartford Stage; Philadelphia Theatre Company; Nuyorican Poets Café; Billie Holiday Theatre, Brooklyn, NY; Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company, Syracuse University; Jubilee Theatre, Houston, TX; Ensemble Theatre, Fort Worth, TX; Chicago Theatre Company; eta Creative Arts Foundation, Chicago; Coppin Players, Baltimore, MD; Juneteenth Legacy Theatre, Louisville; University of Louisville; Penumbra Theatre; Plowshares Theatre Company, Detroit, MI; Teatro Mascara Magica, San Diego: and numerous other venues around the country.

In March 1985, Kelley helped to organize the first SUNY Cortland Gospel Music Festival. The annual event celebrated its 25th anniversary on Oct. 24.



Pill Hill

Habeas Corpus

The Blue Vein Society

Faith, Hope and Charity: The Story of Mary McLeod Bethune

Thruway Diaries

Beautiful Game

A Hero For McBride

White Chocolate

Retirement Blues

No Hidin' Place Down Heah Brings

The Blue Frog


External links[edit]