Karl o'brian Williams
Lecturer, Theater Program (THE) Co-Coordinator
Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts
Office Hours: Tuesdays 1:30p - 4:30p, Wednesdays 11a - 12:30p and 4:00p - 5:30p
Phone: +1 (212) 776-7863
Karl O’Brian Williams is a Jamaican-born actor, playwright, producer, and educator. His acting career has taken him from stages in the Caribbean to those in New York, Toronto, and the United Kingdom. In 2019 he was co-writer on the short film “Winston,” which received the following film festival selections: the Hip Hop Film Festival, Bronzelens, Circle City Film Festival, Queen City Film Festival, the Pan African Film Festival & the African-American Film Festival – the screenplay was adapted from Williams’ Monologue “The Kept Man.”
His play, ‘The Black That I Am’ has been staged in Glasgow and Galloway for the National Theatre of Scotland, and at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. ‘Not About Eve’ had a successful run Off-Off Broadway in New York, Queens, Brooklyn, Rochester, Hartford, Connecticut, and in North Carolina at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem. In 2013 the play received 3 AUDELCO nominations for Excellence in Black Theatre including Outstanding Ensemble Cast, Best Dramatic Production, and Best Playwright.
‘The Boys on the Hill’ was a selection in The Culture Project’s 2015 Summer Play Reading series at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre, and for Long Island University’s Kumble Theatre 2016 Pride Month Celebrations. The play is now being developed along with another one act called ‘Gully Queen’ as part of a trilogy on LGBTQ+ lives in Jamaica.
‘Random’ was a selection in NYU’s ten-minute play festival, and was adapted into a short film by students at the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2009. He was playwright in residence with Theatre Askew’s Youth Performance Experience. Williams’ passion for theatre and education has propelled his work with students of all ages and abilities.
He is currently Deputy Chair and Theatre Coordinator in the Speech, Communication and Theatre Arts Department at The Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY). He has taught at the City College of New York, done teaching artistic work with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Apple Arts, and Wingspan Arts. For New York University and the Center for Multipurpose Education & Programs Williams continues to direct the Martin Luther King Jr. Week signature event since 2011, and has produced shows for the Skirball Performing Arts Center, and the Jamaica Performing Arts Center.
As Artistic Director for Braata Productions, Karl curates the organization’s bi-annual Caribbean Play Reading Series, creates educational theatre curriculum for after school and senior center programs, and was the brainchild of Braata’s annual events, Bankra Caribbean Folk Festival, and Old Time Grand Market. He has shared the stage with Harry Belafonte, and the late historian, and activist Howard Zinn, and pursues artistic projects that interrogate socio-political issues, especially those intersecting with Caribbean culture, queerness, and immigration.
Creative Writing, Acting, Audio-book Narration, Directing, Arts Administration, Caribbean Theatre, LGBTQ+ Theatre, Social Justice Theatre
- MA Educational Theatre – New York University
- Post Graduate Diploma in Education – University of the West Indies
- BA English – University of the West Indies
- Certificate in Acting Shakespeare – Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
- The aim of this course is to develop effective skills in speech communication. The student examines how to generate topics and organized ideas, masters elements of audience psychology and practices techniques of speech presentation in a public forum. All elements of speech production and presentation are considered.
- The collaborative nature of the theatrical event will be explored in readings, presentations, play attendance, papers and creative projects. Contributions of the playwright, actor, director, designer, architect, critic, producer and audience will be investigated through selected periods, genres, theatre spaces and styles of production. The student's potential roles and responsibilities in creating theatre will be emphasized.
- This course continues the study of methods and exercises introduced in Acting I to develop the actor's skills, and moves on to an in-depth study of scene analysis and characterization. Creating an ensemble and exposure to different historical periods will be emphasized. Prerequisite: THE 110
- This course is devoted to the reading aloud of various works of literature, such as poetry, prose or drama, in order to develop an awareness of the voice and body as an instrument of communication, and to instill an appreciation of the beauty and sensitivity of the English language.
- The course introduces the basic concepts and theories of interpersonal communication in personal, educational and business settings. This includes a study of self as communicator, the effect of language on others, verbal and nonverbal expression of thoughts and feelings, and factors which contribute to effective communication. Prerequisite: SPE 100 or permission of department
- This course is designed to give the student experience in all the aspects of bringing a play to production. As the play is cast, rehearsed, designed, built, advertised, and performed for an audience, students will learn about the responsibilities and collaboration between the different participants involved in theatre production. Students will have the opportunity to hone their acting skills, and must also contribute to at least one other aspect of the production.
Prerequisites: THE 125 or THE 126 or THE 127 or THE 128
Research and Projects
- Currently developing the book and lyrics for a new musical: “Welcome to America – A Caribbean Musical”
- Developing a play called “Gully Queen – The Play” paying homage to homeless trans youth in Jamaica
Out & Allied Volume 2: An Anthology of Performance Pieces by LGBTQ Youth & Allies. Excerpts from my play “What’s in a Name”
Narrated the Audiobook: These Ghosts Are Family written by Maisy Card and published by Simon & Schuster (Paste Magazine’s Top 10 Audio Books for March 2020 & Libro.fm May 2020 Audiobookclub selection)
Honors, Awards and Affiliations
- Lorraine Hansberry Artistic Performance/Fine Arts NIA Award – New York University
- The Don & Elizabeth Doyle Fellowship for Youth Theatre – American Association for Theatre & Education (AATE)
- International Theatre Institute Jamaica Chapter Actor Boy Award – Best New Jamaican Play “Not About Eve”
- International Theatre Institute Jamaica Chapter Actor Boy Award – Best New Jamaican Play “The Black That I Am”
- Member Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artists (JADA)
- Member Dramatists Guild of America
- Member Jamaica Film & Television Association (JAFTA)