Karen Yates is a multidisciplinary artist and body worker. She employs sound frequency in a therapeutic capacity through Biofield Tuning and creates events where people can explore physical presence individually and collectively. Prior to this work, she developed an international practice that has included writing, social engagement, performance creation, directing, acting, and digital sound art. Her work continues to grow.
From 2010-2016 her live ensemble performance pieces and digital sound work focused mainly on international issues especially as they related to economic hierarchy and colonial power. Now she examines the impact to the earth and society through one’s connection to one’s body.
In 2017, she received training in Biofield Tuning from Eileen McKusick, its original developer. Yates is also a certified Tantra educator and the Chicago coordinator for Source School of Tantra Yoga events.
Original Creative Work
In February 2016 she wrote and performed Orangutan at Chicago’s RhinoFest with composer and musician Eric Reda. Orangutan chronicled her trip to Tulum, Mexico, and the impact of tourism and the historical objectification of the natural world.
In December 2015, she was the executive producer and creator of Amok Fest '15 at Links Hall, a weekend fest about colliding cultures and global shifts through the lens of Indonesia. The fest was an offshoot of her ensemble work, Amok. Amok is a theater piece using digital sound, gamelan music, and movement to examine the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa, geoscience, Dutch colonialism, and global capitalism.
Amok and AmokFest were developed through an "In the Works" residency at the Chicago Cultural Center, a six-month residency at Links Hall Chicago, a residency at Caldera Arts in Oregon, a Puffin Foundation Ltd. grant, an Illinois Arts Council grant, and a 3AP (part of 3Arts) grant and crowd-funding campaign.
In 2014, she received a City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program grant and a Propeller Fund grant for "Chicago Dream House," a socially engaged project on foreclosure and housing in Albany Park that debut May 31, 2014.
In 2013, she directed and produced the 15-actor workshop production of her play American Bacchae at Chicago's RhinoFest in February.
While studying for her MA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Columbia College Chicago, she was awarded the Albert P. Weisman Award for her 2012 digital sound project American Bacchae Infrasonic, based on her original play. This series went on to become an official selection of the 8th Annual International Streaming Festival of Audio Visual Art, based in The Hague, The Netherlands. In February 2014 the work was exhibited at Xin Wang's The Gallery in Beijing, China.
From 2010 to 2014, Yates was the Associate Artistic Director of the adventurous hybrid opera company, Chicago Opera Vanguard, a company named as making the "Best Effort At Keeping Opera a Living Art" by the Chicago Reader. With COV in 2011 she directed workshops of their new opera, The Suitcase, both in Chicago and Belfast, Northern Ireland. She also wrote the unproduced libretto for Frequency Response, a sci-fi opera with composer Rob Steel.
As a theater director, Yates’ work has been called "masterful," "driven," "vibrant and kinetic," "delightful," "evocative." Productions in which she has participated directorially have made journalists' "highly recommended" lists.
She has worked with Red Tape Theater, Oracle, ATC, Piccolo Theatre, Actors' Revolution Theatre, Chopin, Chicago Scriptworks, the WTA, TUTA, the Around the Coyote Festival, Stage Left, among others. She has experience with Shakespeare and new plays. Yates has studied movement and devising with Complicité, SITI Company, Goat Island, Wendell Beavers, and Antonio Fava, to name a few.
As an actor, she has worked often with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has also performed at Writers' Theatre (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination for Ensemble, To The Green Fields Beyond) BackStage, and Eclipse, among others. She also has done significant work in Playback Theater, a non-comedic form of improv that can be used in community outreach and cultural reconciliation, and has been a member of two Playback companies in Chicago. She was the live announcer for the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago, introducing President Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.