NEW UH THEATRE DIRECTOR STEVEN WALLACE
TO EXPAND SCHOOL’S FOCUS
Veteran Theater Educator to Concentrate on Inter-Disciplinary Training,
Preparation for Evolving Entertainment World
HOUSTON, July 30, 2007 – When Steven Wallace first arrived
at the University of Houston, he was impressed. A renowned program,
talented faculty, enthusiastic students and Houston’s bustling
arts scene made it easy for him to accept the position of director
for the UH School of Theatre & Dance.
Wallace will officially become the school’s director on Aug.
1. Among his priorities is to expand the school’s focus to
better prepare students for careers on the stage and beyond.
“My goal is to position this program so that it readies
students for the world of entertainment,” he said. “I
want to prepare students for the theater, while recognizing that
many of them will also have careers in film, television, theme parks,
cruise ships, Las Vegas and other performance outlets.”
Wallace previously served as the dean for Florida State University’s
(FSU) School of Theatre. At FSU, he concentrated his energies on
directing and the development of new productions. His enthusiasm
for original plays will continue at UH, as the experience of working
on fresh projects benefits students in many ways.
“When students work on a finished play, they know exactly
how it begins and ends. It’s another world when working with
a fresh original project,” Wallace said. “That’s
the world many of them will live in when they graduate. Work in
television, film and even most of what is happening in New York
is almost all ‘new work.’ They should have that skill
set, understand the process and not be afraid to work with new projects.”
Another benefit, Wallace said, is that new works often attract
industry veterans to academic institutions. Based on previous experiences,
he has discovered that students are rewarded from the knowledge
they gain from visiting artists.
“Bridging an academic setting with the professional world
creates a unique experience for students,” he said. “In
addition to learning from visiting artists, students are able to
make contacts. These contacts may not bring immediate employment,
but it is very reassuring for students to have relationships with
established actors, writers, producers and directors. Actually knowing
someone in the business is empowering when you’re just getting
Wallace also wants to foster stronger bonds between the school
and UH’s other fine arts programs. Understanding all artistic
points of view will contribute to theater and dance students’
ultimate growth, he said.
“I am in favor of fostering an inter-disciplinary environment,”
Wallace said. “Whether you’re an actor or director,
it is impossible to think that you will carve out a career only
working in theater. I want students to think of how their talents
can impact performances in other disciplines, be they art, music
or writing. It’s important that artists know how others outside
of their disciplines work.”
This inter-disciplinary approach to the arts is one that is rooted
in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at UH, which fuses
the talents of musicians, actors, writers and artists. The center
and its mission of promoting collaboration among the arts was yet
another draw to accept the director’s position, he said.
More than working with artists inside and outside the university,
Wallace wants to fortify the school’s relationship with the
community. He said that deepening the relationship between the school
and Houstonians will build audiences and assist in outreach efforts
to bring theater to local school districts and surrounding communities.
Prior to working at FSU, Wallace was director of the University
of Oklahoma’s School of Drama and artistic director of its
He also served as director and chair of the School of Communications
and Fine Arts at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M.,
and an assistant professor and technical director at the College
of Santa Fe in Santa Fe, N.M.
Outside of academics, Wallace served as executive vice president
for development at Dreamvision Corporation Inc. and vice president
of Pan American Pictures Corporation in Beverly Hills, Calif. Both
companies were focused on film and video distribution.
Wallace received his bachelor of science degree in drama and speech/English
at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M Kingsville) and his
master of fine arts degree at Trinity University through its professional
conservatory located at the Dallas Theatre Center.
He is married to Elizabeth (“Beth”) Berkley-Wallace,
and they have two children, Brian and Michelle.
Wallace is filling the position that was vacated by Sidney Berger,
UH John and Rebecca Moores Professor in the School of Theatre &
Dance. After serving as director for 38 years, Berger stepped down
to concentrate on teaching, directing and overseeing the Children’s
Theatre Festival and Houston Shakespeare Festival.
The School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelor’s and
master’s degrees in theatre, teacher certifications in dance
and a master of fine arts. Each fall and spring, the school produces
four plays performed in the Wortham Theatre, two dance concerts,
the Edward Albee Playwrights' Workshop, the Stuart Ostrow Musical
Theatre Workshop, various student productions, the Houston Shakespeare
Festival and the Children's Theatre Festival.
For more information on the school, visit http://www.hfac.uh.edu/theatre/.
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.
For more information about UH visit
the universitys Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom.