Attractive smiling woman with dark hair

Anna Kessler

Anna Nadia Kessler was born on September 10, 1982, in Oxford, Mississippi. Her parents, Roger and Rayanna, owned a local dance studio where they taught the fundamentals of ballet, tap, and jazz to children and ballroom dancing to adults. The couple was obsessed both with dance and women's Olympic gymnastics, and they named their only child after Anna Pavlova and Nadia Comaneci.

The Kesslers maintained a very busy schedule, and Anna was raised at the studio, spending long hours unsupervised. She was allowed to wander in and out of classes and encouraged to participate whenever she felt the urge. Her first formal school experience was the day she started first grade. She was accustomed to having free rein and had difficulty adjusting to rules and adhering to a strict class schedule.

Anna's independent and free spirit, combined with a bright mind, resulted in numerous trips to the principal's office. Despite her behavioral issues, Anna enthusiastically embraced learning, became a voracious reader, and developed a vivid imagination. By the time she was in the third grade, Anna was performing at a middle school level in all subjects. Desperate to keep her engaged, a teacher gave Anna a Folger Shakespeare's Library paperback copy of "Romeo and Juliet" to read during class time.

Anna devoured the text. She practiced her cursive writing by keeping meticulous notes on the plot lines and characters and enthusiastically looked up words and phrases. She imagined that she was Juliet, acting out the scenes quietly to herself.

For Anna's ninth birthday, Roger and Rayanna bought her a Riverside Shakespeare complete works, and Anna spent the next few years working her way through Shakespeare's canon. In high school, Anna tried getting involved in the theater department but found the talent lacking and the modern American plays pedestrian.

In 1990, Anna moved to Ashland, Oregon, to join the Shakespeare Studies program at Southern Oregon University. She immediately realized that her love of the Bard and his language was academically based, not performance-based, and dropped out after one semester.

Anna moved to Portland, where she discovered improv and devised theater. She joined the newly-formed Imago Theatre, where she worked in all aspects of theater production and management. Anna developed a taste for innovative, new works and became a successful producer.

In September of 2002, Roger died unexpectedly. Anna traveled home to Oxford. While there, she realized that Rayanna was losing her vision and had been for some time. Anna moved back to Oxford to be near Rayanna.

Anna got involved in the local theatre as both an actor and a director. When the Artistic Director left, Anna applied for the position and was hired. She continues to direct plays and also acts on occasion.

Except for one long-term relationship lasting from 2004 until 2012, Anna has dated only casually for the most part.

 

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