Halena Kays

Artistic Director of The Hypocrites Theater Company 


Halena Kays is the artistic director of The Hypocrites theater company where she both performs and directs.  She is the co-founder and former artistic director of Barrel of Monkeys where she created and directed the majority of their public performances including their critically acclaimed long-running show: That’s Weird, Grandma, called “the best reason to live in Chicago on a Monday night” by Time Out Chicago. She is a UT-Austin and Northwestern grad and a former member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care unit. 

For the Neo-Futurists, Halena directed 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, Burning Bluebeard, co-created and directed Daredevils and Daredevils Hamlet and the premiere of the sight specific extravaganza, Fake Lake.

Halena is equally proud to have worked with many other respectable and disreputable theater companies in Chicago over the years; she was recently on stage in The Kid Thing (About Face/ Chicago Dramatists), Oedipus, Mud and 4.48 Psychosis (The Hypocrites), The Children’s Hour (Timeline), The Golden Truffle (Redmoon), and Fair Use and Theatrical Essays (Steppenwolf).

She received her Masters degree in directing from UT-Austin where she directed The Threepenny Opera, the premiere of Erin Philiips’ The Death of Beth and a new adaptation of The Trojan Women.  For “UT New Theatre” she directed the premiere of Frances Cowhig’s Lidless; for “The New Works Festival” she conceived, co-wrote and directed 101 Ways to…. While in Austin Halena was seen on stage in the world premiere of C. Denby Swanson’s A Brief Narrative of the Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits at Salvage Vanguard Theater and has work-shopped two new plays: The Laura on Laura Comeback Tour (workshop production in Austin, full production moved to Chicago) and a new musical by Andy Bayiates and Jonathan Mastro. 

Halena has been nominated for a Jefferson Citation for Best Supporting Actress and Best Direction, named one of “30 under 30” to watch by SixOSix magazine, and received a signed letter from Mr. Rogers saying she was “special” in 1978.   She also just had a kid.