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Faculty Spotlight: Adam Noble

Faculty Spotlight on School of Theatre & Dance professor of acting and movement Adam Noble

"The diversity of this city, and by extension the University of Houston, was a huge draw for my family and I when we chose to move here.  And now, with everything that is happening, both here and in the rest of the country, I cannot divorce my new understanding of diversity and equity from my experiences within the KGMCA, or the School of Theatre & Dance.  While my journey to this moment has clearly shaped and prepared me, I see now that UH will forever be the site of my true awakening... the place where my work to become an anti-racist really began." -Adam Noble

Q: Please provide your educational history.

A:  I am a perpetual student, and I continue to augment my research interests with self-study, as well as by learning from master teachers in various disciplines.  However, I believe you’re referring to my “formal” education:  I received a BA in English for the University of California at Berkeley, and an MFA in Theatre from the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of Washington.  I am an active member of the Society of American Fight Directors, where I continue to learn about the art of stage and screen violence, as well as Intimacy Directors and Coordinators, a group working on the vanguard of the “consent culture” movement, nurturing safe spaces and best practices when staging or filming intimate storytelling.

Q: What are some fond memories from your journey in the arts?

A:  There are always the “peak moment” stories in any career:  my opportunity to perform a season of Shakespeare in the Park in NYC with all-star casts, or my time choreographing an opera at the Kennedy Center in DC... there are the times I played big roles, or to big houses, like my time playing the title role in MACBETH in front of five thousand people at the Miller Outdoor Theatre here in Houston.

Then, there are often the “big fish” stories as well:  how close I came to being cast in major motion pictures when I was still struggling in New York, or the list of celebrities that I’ve auditioned with or vied against for roles.  There are so many moments in a career when you can dream, how would life be different if...? 

But in all honesty, my fondest memories in the arts have been the people.  The instant bonds that so often form with a new cast, and the deeper friendships that last after the final curtain has fallen.  The scores of kind and compassionate artists who have extended a hand, or offered advice, or picked me up when I was down.  The audience members who took the time to tell me how the story I had helped to tell had affected them... how it changed them.  And there are my colleagues and my students as well, who challenge me to do better, to be better, every day. 

Q: Describe one thing that has surprised you during your career in higher education.

A:  Frankly, I thought that my move to academia would be the end of my career: a seismic shift from doing the work to teaching the work.  But this has not been the case, I am pleased to say.  While my primary focus has naturally shifted to teaching, and I continue to hone that craft, my creative work has also deepened.  It has been a pleasant surprise.  And, in retrospect, how could I teach this work if I was not still deeply immersed in it? 

Q: What accomplishments in your career do you feel most proud of?

A:  I am now old enough (cough cough) that I am seeing the success of my students move to the fore in my consciousness.  While there are still big projects that I am leaning into, I am most proud of my work in nurturing the next generation of artists.  I am happy to see my students out there making art, telling stories, and chasing their dreams.

Q: What specific skills or ideas, which you have cultivated in your area of expertise, do you find valuable in your career now?

A:  The intimacy training has leapt to the fore in a truly appreciable way of late.  The ideas of respecting everyone, of offering clear communication, of treating all people with equity and compassion... these shouldn’t be radical ideas.  But there are so many artists hungry to dive into this work! 

There has been a massive call for introspection in our country.  Theatre makers (all of us, I hope) are looking in the mirror, and taking an unflinching look at what we see.  This work is not easy, and it is never finished, I imagine.  But perhaps my intimacy training has put me a bit ahead of the curve nationally, as I have spent over a decade addressing the systemic challenges and personal changes that so many of us now want to see echoed more broadly in our country, and the world. 

Q: What do you think are the most important attributes of a good instructor?

A:  A devotion to improvement and growth (in both knowledge and practice) in one’s field of endeavor.  That same devotion, blended with open-mindedness and compassion, to one’s students.  A deep willingness to learn.

Q: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

A:  A few years ago, I finally took a bow in front of a packed house at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  That was a “bucket-list” event.  More recently, I became the resident artist for fight direction and intimacy at The Alley Theatre, which was perhaps even more satisfying than my Kennedy Center bow, as it afforded me -- until the pandemic hit – with an ongoing opportunity to work with world-class artists.  While I no longer think that anyone “makes it” in this business (as there is always more to do and to accomplish), that kinda felt like making it.

Q: Has there been any press coverage that you would like to share? If so, list links in your answer with any helpful descriptions.

A:  The press right now is not focused on me, nor should it be.  Here are a couple of related links to groups doing important work in Houston.


Q: What is coming up for you in the future that we should watch for? 

A:  Well, at the moment (thanks, Covid), the only work I’m still able to do is voice over for anime.  There will be a few of those projects coming out, though I don’t have dates at this time.  I really enjoy my time in the recording studio.  But I’m looking forward to the theatre and film work returning.  Only time will tell how long we’ll have to wait. 

Q: What advice would you have for incoming students who are focusing on a career in the arts?

A:  Stay hungry.  Keep learning.  Never stop.  Respect others.  Believe in yourself.  Embrace what makes you unique, and then find the universal truth within it.  Keep innovating.  Embrace what serves from the past, discard the rest.  And do the work.  Showing up and working diligently in service of something larger than yourself is a worthy way to spend a life.