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UH School of Theater and Dance Expands MFA Acting Program in New Partnership with Alley Theater

The University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance in the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts, alongside the Tony Award®-winning Alley Theatre and its Artistic Director Rob Melrose, announces the expansion of the “University of Houston/Alley Theatre MFA Program in Acting.”

In expanding the existing MFA in Acting program, acting students will now be placed in residence at the Alley, working directly with the Alley’s resident acting company, which is comprised of nationally recognized writers, directors, actors and dramaturgs, in the third year of their degree programs. The first class of eight students will enter the expanded program in the fall of 2024 and will begin working in the Alley in academic year 2026-27.

“It’s not so much ‘new’ as ‘next’ in a partnership that has been thriving for decades,” Melrose said. “Alley Theatre resident artists have been directing, acting and teaching with the University of Houston for years, just as UH faculty have been collaborating on Alley productions as voice coaches, stage combat/intimacy specialists, dramaturgs, set designers, lighting designers, playwrights and directors. We’ve now created a path for MFA actors to capitalize on the powerful and productive two-year arc of training that UH has offered for the past 15 years by joining us for a third year.”

Students enrolled in the program will receive a comprehensive package, including a complete waiver of tuition and mandatory fees each semester and a graduate assistantship stipend. Moreover, students will gain invaluable pre-professional experience immersed in the vibrant atmosphere of the Alley Theatre in downtown Houston where they will forge meaningful networking relationships and garner exposure that paves the way for future employment in the dynamic world of theatre.

During the first two years of the three-year program, students will undergo intensive conservatory training in acting, voice, speech, movement and stage combat. Esteemed faculty from the University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance, alongside a cadre of visiting guest artists, including those from the Alley Theatre, guide students through this rigorous curriculum.

The program's culminating third year comprises immersive experiences, encompassing mainstage and understudy roles, as well as ensemble performances hosted at the Alley Theatre’s Meredith J. Long Theatre Center in the heart of downtown Houston.

"We are excited to witness the fruition of our continued collaborations with Alley Theatre, crystallizing into a dynamic and expanded MFA program,” said Adam Noble, associate professor and head of MFA Acting at UH. “We believe that this initiative will bring about transformative experiences for our students and contribute significantly to the flourishing arts community here in Houston. In an era where university/theatre partnerships are often contracting and disappearing, we take pride in our city's resilience. The School of Theatre & Dance eagerly embraces the opportunity to collaborate with one of the nation’s flagship theatre companies and to play a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of artists for the American theatre.”

Similar programs nationally include the Case Western Reserve University – Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program; Brown University – Trinity Repertory Company MFA Program in Acting and Directing in Providence, RI; and the University of California San Diego MFA Acting Program in partnership with the La Jolla Playhouse.

Story by Stephanie Berry, Communications Manager, Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts

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