Kelli Simpkins headshot

Kelli Simpkins


Kelli Simpkins (she/they) is a theater, film, and television artist whose career has spanned thirty years. They are dedicated to telling stories often excluded from the mainstream that focus on class, queerness, disenfranchisement, and ‘the other.’ They are a company member of Tectonic Theater Project and are one of the original creators/dramaturges/performers of The Laramie Project. Kelli appears in the HBO film of the same name, for which she and fellow company members share a Humanitas Prize and an Emmy nomination.

Kelli co-wrote, directed, and devised an original play for Western Michigan University called Good Death, which was performed at the Kennedy Center’s Region III American College Theatre Festival. After living and working in New York, Kelli relocated to Chicago, where they’ve performed at Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, Timeline Theater, Victory Gardens Theatre, and About Face Theater, where they are also an artistic associate. They have simultaneously spent numerous years developing, collaborating on, and performing award-winning, socially-engaged, interview-based documentary projects, including The People’s Temple and Spill.

Kelli’s TV and film credits include Work in Progress, Rounding, 100 Days to Live, Slice, Proven Innocent, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, Patriot, Betrayal, A League of Their Own, Law & Order: C.I., and Chasing Amy. Kelli is a contributing writer to the book MOMENT WORK—Tectonic Theater Project’s Process of Devising Theater. She is also a teaching artist and educator who has led training labs throughout the country. She is a proud recipient of the 2013 3Arts Award. Kelli is represented by Gray Talent Group and managed by Jodi Schoenbrun Carter at 1022m Management.


Featured Artworks

  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "Everybody" Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington DC
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "The Lady from the Sea" Photo by Michael Brosilow Court Theatre, Chicago
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "Charm" MCC, New York City
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "Spill" Timeline Theatre Company, Chicago & Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "Cocked" Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "We're Gonna Be Ok" Photo by Michael Brosilow American Theatre Company, Chicago
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "The Gulf" Photo by Michael Brosilow About Face Theatre, Chicago
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "Bull in a China Shop" About Face Theatre, Chicago
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "T" American Theatre Company, Chicago
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "The Secretaries" About Face Theatre, Chicago
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "The Kid Thing" Chicago Dramatists & About Face Theatre, Chicago
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork "Pony" About Face Theatre, Chicago
  •  Kelli Simpkins artwork Still from "A League of Their Own"

Kelli Simpkins has crowd-funded a project with 3AP

  • Queer In(n)

    • $17,276 raised of $5,000 goal
    • 0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
      • 3Arts matched
      • 346% funded

    I am fundraising to launch the first phase of Queer In(n)—a curated, generative online gallery inspired by interviews with Chicago LGBTQIA+ and/or gender and sexually diverse youth/elders and their advocates. As a theater artist, much of my career has …

    Read more about Queer In(n)