Theatre Students at UH To Learn From Alley Theatre’s Company Actors, Artisans

Graduate actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs to work with Houston’s famed theatre company

Alley Theatre and the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance are joining forces to offer graduate students an opportunity to learn from and work alongside some of the country's finest stage professionals.

Beginning in fall 2008, UH's graduate student actors, directors, designers and dramaturgs will actively participate in Alley productions, learning the process of creating professional theater from those who know it best. Likewise, the creative and technical minds of the Alley will bring industry insight to the university's classrooms.

"The alliance will be the most comprehensive affiliation between a member company of the League of Resident Theatres and a state higher education institution," said Steven Wallace, director for the UH School of Theatre & Dance. "This is a Texas-sized partnership. It will provide our students with opportunities to work with some of the nation's top theater talents and allows the Alley to add the next generation of artists to its already rich pool of talent. It's a win-win situation for both UH and the Alley, but ultimately, the city of Houston and its arts patrons will benefit from this collaborative effort."

To help groom these students, members of the Alley's noted acting company will work with them during Saturday workshops designed to hone the students' stage skills. Also, a director associated with the company will helm an annual production on the Alley's Neuhaus Stage designed by and featuring UH graduate students.

"Working artists thrive on collaboration," said Alley Theatre artistic director Gregory Boyd. "We welcome the opportunity to mentor and help train these students and expect that the interaction of students with our professional company will yield rich creative ideas and experiences. This unique program will facilitate the complete involvement and immersion of these students in the artistic life of our theatre."

Through this affiliation, graduate directing, dramaturgy and design students from UH will have the opportunity to work as assistants on Alley productions. Graduate actors may earn roles in the Alley's annual production of "A Christmas Carol." Actors in their second year of the graduate program may be eligible to be cast in regular season Alley productions.

To place the country's finest talents in this ambitious graduate program, the school is intensifying national recruiting efforts and will award assistantships to 20 students annually. These assistantships will cover tuition, fees and cost of living over the two-year course of their graduate studies.

"Theater education is at its best when it is imbedded in active productions," said John Antel, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. "The Alley is one of the most respected resident companies in the country. Our students will receive the highest quality training as a part of this collaboration. The Alley partnership is another step in the university's move to support local arts programs through faculty and student production support, but also through building the future audiences that will make our so-called ‘third coast' into a first rate cultural center."

Founded 61 years ago, the Alley serves as Houston's premier theater company offering new plays, classics, re-discovered and rarely performed works and new musical theater. Led by Boyd and managing director Dean Gladden, it is one of the few American theater companies supporting a resident company of actors, designers, artisans and craftspeople. The Alley Theatre's facility consists of two stages - the 824-seat Hubbard Stage and the 310-seat Neuhaus Stage. Each season, the company presents a wide ranging repertoire of productions performed year round. The Alley is also home to programs that engage students around the city and state of Texas in educational theatre activities.

The UH School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelor's and master's degrees in theatre and teacher certifications in dance. Its graduate program consists of a master of arts in theatre and masters of fine arts in theatre with specializations in acting, directing and design. Each fall and spring, the school produces four plays performed in the Wortham Theatre, two dance concerts, the Stuart Ostrow Musical Theatre Workshop, student productions, the New Play Festival, the Houston Shakespeare Festival and the Children's Theatre Festival. Among the notable star faculty who lent their energies to the school are Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Sir Peter Hall and Jose Quintero. Current faculty includes Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow, Houston Shakespeare Festival founder Sidney Berger and Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff.

About the University of Houston The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.