Alley Theatre Company Members Paul Hope, Chris Hutchison Working with UH Students
Hutchison will teach a graduate course in stage movement, and Hope will direct the school's highly anticipated production of "The Rocky Horror Show" in October.
"Our educational approach to training actors, designers, dramaturges and stage managers is to provide a learning environment under the direction of an exceptional faculty with access to experienced working artists," said Steven Wallace, director of the UH School of Theatre & Dance.
Throughout his nearly 20-year career, Hutchison has portrayed a broad array of characters, encompassing a wide range of movement styles and physical demands. In his class, he will teach his own fusion of the techniques of dancer Rudolf Laban, actor/director Michael Chekov and classic clowning in the vein of comics like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Yoga will be incorporated, as will the Skinner Releasing Technique, which employs music, imagery and voice to inspire improvised movement.
"My goal is to show how all these things are related and how they draw from and progress out of the other disciplines," said Hutchison, who recently starred as Dr. Watson in the Alley production of "Sherlock Holmes and The Crucifer of Blood ." "Approaches to movement that were ‘new' just 10 years ago are incorporated into the latest iterations, which are made up of a hundred years of thought and practice already."
Hutchison has performed in many Alley productions including "The Farnsworth Invention," "A Christmas Carol," "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Othello," "Aresenic and Old Lace" and "The Lieutenant of Inishmore." He also has performed in theaters across the country, as well as in television shows such as "Chappelle's Show," "Ed," "All My Children" and "Guiding Light."
"Movement is a means to an end on stage. That end, in my view is the creation of a space for audiences to have transformative experiences. The more awareness an actor can have of himself and of his or her own body, its limitations and strengths, the more ways he has of bringing a character to full life on stage, of fully serving the play and the audience."
Joining Hutchison on campus this fall will be UH alumnus and Alley company member Hope, who recently worked with UH faculty and students during the 2009 Houston Shakespeare Festival. Hope also taught musical theater to graduate students last fall. In October, he will direct the school's production of the wildly popular "The Rocky Horror Show." The play will run Oct. 23 - Nov. 1 in UH's Wortham Theatre.
"I am very excited to be working on ‘The Rocky Horror Show,'" he said. "It is an honor to be asked to direct a main stage production at the university, and I am looking forward to working with the staff and students. It will especially be exciting to work on a musical production at UH, particularly one that has not been performed in Houston in quite a while."
Hope is in his 15th season as a company member of the Alley Theatre and has performed in numerous company productions including "Arsenic and Old Lace," "Charles in The Clean House," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Love! Valour! Compassion!" and "Art." He also has performed in many musicals across the country including "Grand Hotel" (opposite Cyd Charrise), "Dodsworth" (with Hal Linden) and "Mame" (with Juliet Prowse). His talents also have been featured in productions at the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet.
Hope and Hutchison's contributions to the School of Theatre & Dance reflect the bond between UH and the Alley Theatre that strengthened last fall. Through this unique alliance, the school's graduate students receive professional training from experienced members of the Alley company and have opportunities to participate in the company's productions. Last fall, UH students played ensemble roles in the Alley's production of "Cyrano de Bergerac," and this summer, Alley actor company member Todd Waite taught a graduate acting class at UH. In January, Alley actor David Rainey will be featured in the university's production of "Big Love."
"Our partnership with the Alley Theatre has opened the door and given us access to their talented company, which includes some of the premiere actors in our region," Wallace said.
The Alley Theatre, founded in 1947 by pioneering educator Nina Vance, is a professional resident theatre company under the direction of artistic director Gregory Boyd and managing director Dean R. Gladden. It is one of the few American Theatre companies that supports a company of actors, designers, artisans and craftspeople throughout the year. Productions are built and rehearsed in a 75,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, one of the largest of its kind, adjacent to its two-theatre complex in downtown Houston. The Alley was founded more than 60years ago as Houston's theatre company. It exists to provide audiences with the highest quality theatre, offering a wide variety of work including new plays, classics, the rediscovered and the rarely performed, and new musical theatre, with an emphasis on new American works. Throughout its history, the Alley has earned a national and international reputation for artistic achievement, including the Tony Award, and Alley artists have garnered praise from audiences across the country.
The UH School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelor's and master's degrees in theater and teacher certifications in dance. Its graduate program consists of a master of arts in theater and masters of fine arts in theater with specializations in acting, directing and design. Each fall and spring, the school produces five plays performed in the Wortham Theatre and the Jose Quintero Theatre, two dance concerts, four graduate directing projects, two Theatre for Young Audiences plays and the Houston Shakespeare Festival each summer. The school has benefitted from notable star faculty such as Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Sir Peter Hall and Jose Quintero. Among current faculty are Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff, Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow and Broadway dramaturg Mark Bly. For details on UH's School of Theatre & Dance, visit www.theatredance.uh.edu.