caryn desai


caryn desai (Artistic Director/Producer) is an award-winning director with awards and nominations from LA Drama Critics Circle, LA Weekly, Drama-Logue, Robby, Ovation and NAACP for her productions.  Recent directing: Exit Wounds, Under the Skin, Valley Song, Art, Daisy, Beast on the Moon, Cardboard Piano, Uncanny Valley, and Doubt. Selected credits:  Other Desert Cities, Red, God of Carnage, Backwards in High Heels, Dinah Was (most L.A. Ovation award nominations) “Master Harold” … and the boys, A Shayna Maidel, Shakuntala (also adapted by her), Rashomon, Our Town, The Importance of Being Earnest, Contradictions (her original work), Antigone, and Oedipus.  Selected musicals:  Raisin (LADCC “Best Production”), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Once on This Island, and Tapestry.

caryn is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. She has an MFA in directing from UC Irvine, a BA from CSU, Long Beach in acting and directing, an AA from LBCC, and a certificate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. She has certificates in Arts Administration, Marketing and Fundraising.  With a full Fellowship, she completed an Executive Program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business as one of 50 arts leaders in the nation selected for the initial program.  Additionally, she completed an Executive Coaching Program through the Hudson Institute, Santa Barbara.  She has served on grant panels for the county and city and as a speaker/panelist for the SRO Theatre Conference at USC on Best Practices, the Technical Theatre Conference about the role of a director, and more.  She represented ICT as a National Participant for the Listening Post Project with Johns Hopkins University and was named "Enterprising Woman in the Arts" in Long Beach. caryn was honored with the “We Can Do It” Award from the Long Beach Rosie the Riveter Foundation and nominated as an Amazing Woman in the Arts.

She taught college for more than 25 years and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Long Beach City College.  She served as a Dramaturgical Responder for the graduate playwriting students at USC and served as Vice Chair for the LA Producers League for Large Theatres. In 2016 she was the keynote speaker at the Disneyland Hotel for INTIX.  That same year she accepted the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Season and was recognized as a 2016 Community Hero by the African American History & Culture Foundation.  In 2018 caryn was named Distinguished Alumna from the College of the Arts at California State University, Long Beach.  Prior to the pandemic, she returned to teaching Nonprofit Arts Management at CSU, Fullerton. Recently she was honored to be included on the Long Beach City College Hall of Fame and to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Long Beach NAACP.  Most recently she was honored to be named an LA 2023 Inspirational Woman by the LA Times and had the privilege to serve as Mace Marshall for UC Irvine’s graduates from the School of Arts, School of Education, and School of Physical Sciences. She is honored to be the recipient of the 2024 Eternity Award by the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival for lifetime achievement in making a lasting contribution to the world of theatre.