A Short Biography

Founder of New York's Chelsea Theatre Center, [winner for its work of five Tony Awards, four Tony nominations and 21 Obie Awards], Mr. Kalfin has directed more than 200 productions and workshops of new plays, musicals and the classics in venues on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in major American regional theaters, in Europe, the Middle East and as far abroad as Siberia. [The book, Chelsea On The Edge, details his contribution to the American Theater].

Broadway credits include STRIDER, HAPPY END [starring Meryl Streep and Christopher Lloyd], YENTL [starring Tovah Feldshuh], TRULY BLESSED [A Celebration of Mahalia Jackson]; and as Chelsea Co-Producer of Harold Prince's production of CANDIDE. He staged RASHOMON and THE MISTRESS OF THE INN [starringTovah Feldshuh] for the Roundabout Theatre Company, and directed the television production of THE PRINCE OF HOMBURG starring Frank Langella for PBS Great Performances "Theatre in America" Series. [The latter now available on DVD].

Other representative productions include Brecht's LIFE OF GALILEO at the NYU Skirball Performing Arts Center; OTHELLO for the Cornell Schwarz Performing Arts Center; Eugene O'Neill's ANNA CHRISTIE at the Metropolitan Playhouse; the off-Broadway productions of William Mastrosimone's A STONE CARVER; OUTWARD BOUND for the Keene Company, [Nominated for two Drama Desk Awards];and the recent Mirror Rep Production of THE SHANGHAI GESTURE.

His work abroad includes the London Premiere of THE DISPUTATION; STRIDER for the Haifa Municipal Theatre and at the Habima Theater in Israel; the Russian Language Premieres of THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH for the Krasne Fakel Theater in Novosibirsk, Siberia and Tennessee Williams' THE ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE for the Sfera Theatre in Moscow; as well an English Language Scandinavian tour of THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH starring E.G. Marshall and Sada Thompson.

Mr. Kalfin's career includes directing such artists as F. Murray Abraham, Lucy Arnaz, Elizabeth Ashley, Theo Bikel, Marilyn Chris, Joan Copeland, Charles Durning, Alvin Epstein, Tovah Feldshuh, Paul Hecht, Jack Klugman, Frank Langella, Dan Lauria, Christopher Lloyd, Ralph Macchio, Dina Merrill, Lou Diamond Phillips, Mercedes Ruehl, Meryl Streep and Loretta Swit in a variety of productions, readings and workshops in theaters throughout the country.

He has served as Artistic Director for the Chelsea Theatre Center, the Cincinnati Playhouse-in-the-Park and the Pirate Playhouse on Sanibel Island. Mr. Kalfin attended Alfred University and has his M.F.A. degree is in Directing from the Yale School of Drama. He has served on the Boards of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and Theater Communications Group.

INTRO TO LEGENDS OF OFF BROADWAY AWARD CEREMONY, June 27, 2015 (remarks by Peter Breger)

We begin our 2015 Awards by honoring some very special Legends of Off Broadway.

The thing we love about honoring the Legends of Off Broadway is this: after long and sustained careers they all continue to do amazing things.

We present the Legend Awards first since these folks have been working Off Broadway for decades, so, it’s time.


Our first honoree is a visionary director whose extraordinary career coincided with the birth of the not-for-profit theater in the 60s. Robert Kalfin seized the moment when funding first became available to innovative arts groups to realize his dream of starting his own theater company.

Under his aegis, the itinerant Chelsea Theater Center boldly produced some of the most challenging works of the modern theater for nearly three decades, including a 7-hour version of Genet’s THE SCREENS. Bob introduced New York to new British voices like Edward Bond, Christopher Hampton, and David Storey. He brought feminist playwrights into what had previously been predominantly male run institutions. He produced so many works by African American writers that people who hadn’t met him in person often assumed that he was black.

For Bob Kalfin, having people walk out of his productions was as much a measure of success as a commercial transfer. “You may hate it, but you won't see it anywhere else,” was the Chelsea’s in-your-face motto.

Because of such risk-taking, many of Bob’s productions did move to Broadway, including YENTL, and his adaptations of STRIDER, and HAPPY END, (which introduced New York to a youngster fresh out of Yale named Meryl Streep).

The legendary musical CANDIDE was widely considered unproduceable until Bob Kalfin convinced Harold Prince to reconceive it for the Chelsea.

Bob Kalfin’s example created a template for the modern artistic director. That job description might read: “Do what no one else is doing. Bring new voices into the conversation. Be fearless.” In other words, be like this extraordinary man. Please welcome a true Legend of Off Broadway… Bob Kalfin.