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Alley Theatre’s Artistic Staff reflects on what excites them personally about the Festival workshop performances and readings

Rob Melrose, Artistic Director: Why I’m Excited About The Janeiad

Obviously, I’m excited about the whole festival. It is always the most buzzing time at the Alley with so many guest artists, audience members, and projects all in the building at the same time. Of course for me, the chance to work with Anna Ziegler makes me very excited because I have admired her work for many years. One of my favorite films is Truly, Madly, Deeply – a movie about a young widow wishing her departed husband back into existence and one of my favorite works of literature is Homer’s Odyssey. Somehow Anna has managed to merge these two worlds as well as artfully dealing with the recent 20th anniversary of 9/11. It is a major work for the theatre and I’m so excited to get a chance to share it with you!   

Liz Frankel, Director of New Work: Why I’m Excited About Untitled Horse Play

When I started the Alley All New initiative, my goal was to make a creative home for playwrights. This year’s workshop production of Hilary Bettis’ brand new, still untitled play feels like proof that I’ve done it. The Alley began its relationship with Hilary when we presented a reading of her Queen of Basil in the 2018 Alley All New Festival. Then she returned the next year for a workshop production 72 miles to go…, which we later produced following its world premiere in New York. Both plays came to us after Hilary had received readings of them elsewhere. It meant the world to me that Hilary trusted me, the Alley and the Houston audience with the most autobiographical play she had ever written and that she sent me a rough, early draft that she won’t hear out loud until the first day of rehearsal. Instead of honing the play here, she’ll be finding it here, in her artistic home. Oh, and also, I’m excited about this play because I think it’s fantastic.  

Brandon Weinbrenner, Associate Producer & Casting Director: Why I’m Excited About The Bleeding Class

After the world premiere of her electrifying Amerikin seen at the Alley in 2022, I was eager to have playwright Chisa Hutchinson back in our building. Chisa does it again with The Bleeding Class, where we are immediately thrust into a world plagued by a pandemic that has everyone scared… except for Sugar, who might contain the answer to global immunity. Chisa began writing this play well before the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in 2020 and uses this timely topic to focus our attention on class and race in America, as we rush to solve a problem for many while creating bigger problems for some. With fearless dialogue and lovingly and specifically crafted characters, The Bleeding Class takes us on Sugar’s journey in surprising, hilarious, and chilling ways. How does Hutchinson do this? Beats me, but she does.  

Bradley Michalakis, Literary Manager: Why I’m Excited About Instructions for a Séance

This one-woman show by Katie Bender is unlike anything our audiences have seen before at the Alley. From the moment she enters the space, Katie subverts our expectations of what we can—and can’t–do in a theatre. Lines between reality and illusion are blurred, as we are invited to participate in a literal séance–one that can only occur in this space, on this night, with these people. It feels DIY, yet somehow explosively theatrical. It explores history, while remaining paradoxically personal—both to Katie, and to each member of the audience. I don’t know what will happen, but I know you’ve never seen anything like Instructions for a Séance. 

Baldemar Rodriguez, Manager of Community Partnerships: Why I’m Excited About December

It’s always a pleasure to welcome a Texas playwright to the Alley! We’re so lucky to be working on a new play by Marisela Treviño Orta, who you might know from her hugely successful play The River Bride. December centers on two Texans connecting in Minnesota as they discuss love, life, and poetry. But this play is so much more than a straightforward romance. It’s a relatable yet unexpected story that spans decades, full of surprising theatricality and laced with beautiful poetic language. And one of life’s lessons learned in this amazing story is that love and endearment have no age. I’m so proud to present the work of this wonderful Latina playwright to our audience here in Houston! 

Baldemar Rodriguez, Manager of Community Partnerships: Por qué estoy emocionado por la representación teatral de Diciembre:

¡Siempre es un placer dar la bienvenida a un dramaturgo de Texas al Teatro Alley! Tenemos mucha suerte de estar trabajando en una nueva obra de Marisela Treviño Orta, a quien quizás conozcas por su exitosa obra The River Bride. Diciembre se centra en dos Tejanos que se conectan en Minnesota mientras hablan sobre el amor, la vida y la poesía. Pero esta obra es mucho más que un romance. Es una historia identificable pero inesperada que abarca décadas, llena de una teatralidad sorprendente y mezclada con un hermoso lenguaje poético. Y una de las lecciones más aprendidas en esta increíble historia es que el amor y el cariño no tienen edad. ¡Estoy muy orgullosa de presentar el trabajo de esta maravillosa dramaturga Latina a nuestra audiencia aquí en Houston!