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

The program expands the existing MFA in Acting program at the University of Houston by placing acting students in residence at the Alley Theatre, working directly with the Alley’s Resident Acting Company, in the third year of their degree programs. The first class of students will enter the expanded program in the fall of 2024 and will begin working in the Alley in academic year 2026-27. The program means that MFA in Acting students at the University of Houston will now be working in the same room with nationally recognized writers, directors, actors, and dramaturgs. The number and range of opportunities these MFA candidates will have is unique in the profession.

Artistic Director Rob Melrose shares, “It’s not so much ‘new’ as ‘next’ in a partnership that has been thriving for decades. 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.”

The program will admit eight students annually. Enrolled students benefit from a comprehensive package, including a Graduate Tuition Fellowship that encompasses a complete waiver of tuition and mandatory fees each semester, along with a rewarding graduate assistantship featuring a stipend. Moreover, students will now gain invaluable pre-professional experience immersed in the vibrant atmosphere of the Alley Theatre in downtown Houston.

The partnership with the Alley Theatre provides students exclusive opportunities to collaborate with accomplished professional actors and directors of both national and international acclaim. Through this collaboration, students forge meaningful networking relationships and garner exposure that paves the way for future employment in the dynamic world of theatre.

The program is meticulously crafted to cultivate versatile theater artists capable of seamlessly performing across a spectrum of roles, spanning contemporary to classical genres. It aims to instill both the technical proficiency and aesthetic sensibility essential for a thriving career in the professional theater realm.

During the initial two years of the three-year program, students 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. 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,” expressed Adam Noble, Head of M.F.A. Acting at the University of Houston.

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