Interview: Jim Hammond-director of Gainesville Theatre Alliance

If you’re a theatre lover and can’t afford to get to Broadway to see live theatre, there’s an alliance right here in Gainesville, GA that rivals professional theatres. The Gainesville Theatre Alliance is a collaboration between Brenau University and the University of North Georgia, Gainesville Campus. Voted by On Stage magazine as the best theatre training program in the Southeast, this program offers quality shows for very reasonable prices.

The 2018-2019 season has been announced, and we’re in for another great season of shows! The mainstage shows will be Wizard of Oz  Nov. 6-17,2018; Noises Off Feb. 12-23, 2019; Men on Boats Feb 15-23, 2019; and Cabaret, April 9-20, 2019. GTA also offers Wonderquest Theatre for Young Audiences and will feature Sophie and the Pirates. Discovery Series for Fall brings Waiting for Gadot. Spring Discovery Series will be announced at a later date. 

Speakeysie was fortunate to conduct an e-interview with Jim Hammond, Artistic and Managing Director of the Gainesville Theater Alliance. Jim has been at the helm of GTA for  29 years, and his vision has helped shape and mold young minds and train them for careers in theater, film, and entertainment.

How long have you been working with Gainesville Theatre Alliance?  I’m about to begin my 29th year with GTA.  Time flies . . .

Prior to GTA, what experiences prepared you for your position as Artistic and Managing Director? As a student in the first years of GTA, I had a great mentor in Ed Cabell.  Watching him do his work inspired me to consider teaching and directing a university theatre program like GTA.  The demands of the job were a good match for my interests and growing skillset. I pursued an MFA in Acting and Directing at the University of Louisville, and then was hired to start theatre programs at Gordon State College and Georgia College and State University.  Building those programs from the ground up helped me understand and appreciate the foundation and tradition of excellence Ed had created here in Gainesville.

What are some of GTAs most memorable shows for you and why? It’s hard to pick favorites from more than sixty productions because every cast and every crew has been filled with talented and dedicated theatre artists.  I have inspiring stories to tell about every one of those shows. Name a title and I could go on for 30 minutes. I love challenges that scare me, so overcoming the degree of difficulty with content or design/tech in shows like Ragtime, Streetcar, Metamorphoses, In the Heights and Avenue Q are especially thrilling.

What makes GTA a special program? GTA has always placed its focus on community building.  The performance is not the end result we strive for, but we use the theatrical process as a means to a greater goal – building healthy relationships and communities.  We also know that with a healthy ensemble, the potential for brilliant work skyrockets. If you build it, they will come. If you create a company of dedicated theatre artists who value learning and growth in knowledge, skills, commitment and a generous spirit, you will attract very impressive people.  And we have.

Over 85% of GTA grads are working in the industry, which is an enormous success rate. Last year, GTA brought in over 80 freshmen and new students into its program.  Thank you, Jim, for your time and dedication to such a terrific program!  

GTA tickets and season passes are available now online at http://blog.ung.edu/gta/ TIckets sell out fast, so get yours ASAP!! We’ll keep you up-to-date on all the GTA offerings for the 2018-2019 season through social media and live streaming. Also, be looking out on social media for some Speakeysie GTA ticket giveaways in the near future!

-Jody Key – Managing Editor, Speakeysie — speakeysie@gmail.com  470-330-1499

Photo Credit: ung.edu

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