Kashi Johnson is an actress, director and tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at Lehigh University where she teaches courses in acting, African American drama, Hip Hop theatre and spoken word performance. She directs plays during the production season, continues to act herself and has also conceived and written several student devised pieces, including the plays gener8-tion Txt, Speaking Freely and Untold Truths.
Professor Johnson has been a trailblazer in Hip Hop theatre pedagogy. In her course, Hip Hop is the ‘Trojan horse’ that ushers students into the world of performance, identity exploration and truth telling. Students are challenged to engage social justice issues critical to the Hip Hop generation, and encouraged to find ways to incorporate these concerns into their performances. Her pioneering, culturally responsive, approach to teaching performance has been critically acclaimed for its ability to give voice to issues of diversity and inclusion. Professor Johnson has been invited to present at numerous national conferences and given recorded talks for TEDx and season 3 of BlackademicsTV about "Act Like You Know."
Act Like You Know. Generation 7.0 class shot. 2015.
In 2005, she co-Founded RedSun Productions with Teniece Johnson as a performance platform for showcasing local Hip Hop artists and outlet to nurture aspiring performers. Since its inception, RedSun Productions has produced its popular HipHopCollective show, over 35 times in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley area.
Regionally, she has performed in several staged readings including Countdown to the Happy Day for the Forum Theatre, Playwright's Forum, and The Black Women Playwright's Group at the Roundhouse Theatre (MD), and Billy Be Home Soon for the African Continuum Theatre Company (DC) and the Fresh Flavas New Works Festival at The John F. Kennedy Center (DC). Recent acting credits at Lehigh University include playing the role of Aunt Ester in Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson and Saint Monica in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis.
Select directing credits include The Piano Lesson and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson, The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe, God of Carnage by Yazmina Reza, Our Lady of 121st Street by Stephen Adly Guirgis, The Crucible byArthur Miller, The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman, How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel, Flyin’ West by Pearl Cleage, Talk Radioby Eric Bogosian and I’m Not Rappaport by Herb Gardner, among others.
She has been honored with the appointment of Lehigh University’s Class of ’61 Professorship, and is a proud recipient of the Stabler Excellence in Teaching Award. Most recently, Professor Johnson has received the Faculty Recognition of Universal Design in Learning Award, the 25 Women Who Are Changing Lehigh Award and the MLK Faculty Award.
Professor Johnson received her M.F.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and her B.A. in Theatre from Lehigh University. She is a member of Actor’s Equity Association (AEA), Black Theatre Network (BTN), Black Theatre Association (BTA) and American Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).