HEAD OF THE CLASS 
The Alliance Theatre’s Christopher Moses Helps Atlanta Actors Go Pro

By Bret Love

Christopher Moses fell in love with theatre as a child, after seeing a stage production of Peter Pan at the age of four. Now, as the Alliance Theatre’s Director of Educational Programs, his job is a sort of personal Neverland, helping aspiring actors make their professional dreams come true.

Moses started out as a performer himself, starring in an Alliance production of James & the Giant Peach. He joined the theatre’s education staff in 2000 and has served as the Education Director since 2011. Under his leadership, the department has doubled the number of annual students to around 11,000. launched new programs such as the Artist-to-Artist master class series, and expanded nationally recognized programs like the Collision Project and the Institute for Educators and Teaching Artists.

In 2014, Moses was named Associate Artistic Director at the Alliance, and Artistic Director Susan Booth called him “a phenomenal partner in the leadership of this theatre’s artistic vision.” We recently spoke with Moses about that vision, including expansion into adult education for film work, commercials, screenwriting and voiceover acting.

How did you originally get involved at the Alliance Theatre?

Many years ago, I played James in James & the Giant Peach at the Alliance. I fell in love with the idea that this major regional theatre, which was producing August Wilson and Paula Vogel, was just as committed to programming for young ones. I gradually became more and more involved with the education programs, and felt a calling to provide more opportunities for people to engage in this art form.

With companies such as the Alliance, Dad’s Garage, Actor’s Express, etc., Atlanta has had a robust theatre scene for years now. What makes the city’s theatre scene unique?

I think there’s this remarkable combination of talent and humility here, which results in a truly supportive community of theater artists that ultimately makes the work stronger. I find it incredibly refreshing that Atlanta stands out as an artistic community that is both thriving and nurturing.

The Alliance’s education program has grown dramatically under your leadership. At the same time, the type of work available to actors in Georgia has changed dramatically with the massive influx of film and TV productions. Is there a connection there?

Absolutely. The film industry has reminded people that there is real work here for actors. It also seems to have captivated the collective imagination, inspiring people to dip their toes into this industry by enrolling in acting classes. The visible presence of the film industry in Atlanta has reawakened dreams and passions for those who have always been curious about this business, but have been hesitant to take the first step.

Until recently, a lot of the city’s best talent left Atlanta to find work in NYC and L.A. How do the Alliance’s classes and workshops help actors who want to refine their craft and get work here at home?

That motivates a lot of our thinking here. We want them to stay here and find work here, so we’re always equipping them with strategies for navigating a difficult landscape. The majority of new students come to us interested in the film industry, but we always stress the importance of theatre training. We introduce them to all of the wonderful theatres in this city where they can gain invaluable experience working on stage. We’re always looking for opportunities to employ actors, both on our stages as well as in our classrooms. There are many incredibly talented actors who stay in Atlanta by teaching classes here between gigs.

You’ve expanded the Alliance education program to include film work, auditioning for commercials, screenwriting and voiceovers. Are there plans for further expansion?

Yes, I’d like to continue to offer more classes designed for working actors. We just started a series of Curious Conversations with people from the industry who have found success. These are informal, intimate conversations—like Inside the Actor’s Studio without the pretense-- where those curious about the industry get a chance to hear personal stories and advice from pros.

Susan Booth described you as the person who is strategizing “the theater’s growth and sustainability in the years ahead.” What do you see as the keys to long-term sustainability for theatres in an era when many arts organizations are struggling?

We really need to focus on how to make our work accessible and essential to our community. The guiding principle for us as we plan for the future is, how can we make sure that anyone who wants to participate in our programming can. It’s a bold vision that not only motivates our staff but helps us remain relevant.

Classes will beging on March 7. For more information call 404.733.4700 or visit alliancetheatre.org/classes.

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