Dr. Kristin O'Malley joined the Oakcrest faculty in the fall of 2019. She directs Oakcrest's Middle and Upper School theatre productions, organizes and runs its annual Shakespeare Monologue Competition, and teaches Theatre Arts and Public Speaking for Middle School students, Beginning Theatre Arts, and Playwriting.
Dr. O'Malley holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University and a Bachelor of Arts in Drama from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Last fall, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, writing her dissertation on how Catholicism has been represented in secular theatre in the United States post-1965. She has directed over twenty shows, acted in many others, and has taught middle school in Virginia and Maryland.
Dr. O'Malley enjoyed writing her dissertation on a topic that integrated some of the most important parts of her life. "As a Catholic involved in theatre, I wanted to better understand how theatre has historically crafted portrayals of Catholicism, and how commercial theatre has the potential to impact how people understand religious practices," she explains. "Vatican II and the election of John F. Kennedy made a significant impact on how the public engaged with perceptions of Catholic identity in the United States, so I took that as a starting place to see how theatre performances engaged with Catholic identity following these historic moments."
When she returned to Northern Virginia after graduate school, Dr. O'Malley was happy to see a teaching opening at Oakcrest. "I was familiar with Oakcrest from my previous time living in the area, and I was excited when the job opened up, because I knew it would be a space that would allow me to grow both as a Catholic and as an educator," she says.
This fall, she is busy working with Middle School students to prepare for the production of The Female Quixote, a play written by Claire Wittman, and adapted from the 1703 gothic novel of the same name by Charlotte Ramsay. Dr. O'Malley chose the play after reading it this past spring. "The message of the story spoke to me, because I think many of us want our lives to be grand adventures, and we often lose sight of the fact that our own life stories don't need to be epic to be beautiful and exciting in their own rights," she notes. "This play has never been produced before, so Oakcrest will be the first to bring the play to life. It is rare to have the opportunity to debut a brand-new play. Moreover, this is the first time in my experience that I've had access to the playwright who has been incredibly generous and supportive, so I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with both the playwright and our students to craft the first ever production of The Female Quixote."
Dr. O'Malley has greatly enjoyed the time she has been able to spend with so many Oakcrest students. "My favorite thing about Oakcrest is that the students all have a wide array of interests, and they are encouraged to explore them all. As a theatre teacher, I love that students with a strong interest in theatre are still actively involved in sports, and that our athletes willingly and joyfully help with our shows." When she is not teaching, Dr. O'Malley enjoys reading through her ever-growing library, teaching herself the guitar, and country line dancing.