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Poetry Series Featuring Actors From The Alley Theatre

Watch and listen as actors give voice to the words of renowned poets through a partnership with Houston's nationally recognized Alley Theatre. In this video series, a curated selection of poems by authors such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Emily Dickinson, Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, and many others whose written words can be found in the holdings of the Harry Ransom Center will be activated through readings by celebrated actors in the Alley Theatre's Resident Acting Company.

Join us each month for a new, inspiring poetry reading, complete with an introduction and commentary by Ransom Center Betty Brumbalow Director Dr. Stephen Enniss, who will provide insight into the poems and authors selected. He has written on Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Seamus Heaney, among other notable literary figures. He is the author of After the Titanic: A Life of Derek Mahon (Gill and Macmillan, 2014).

Each episode will be available for a limited time. Set reminders to see the videos as they are released.

Sylvia Plath

December 6, 2021 - Chris Hutchison

This final installment of Wordplay features a selection of works by American poet Sylvia Plath read and interpreted by Chris Hutchison, a member of the Alley Theatre's Resident Acting Company.

War Poetry

November 1, 2021 - Shawn Hamilton

This installment of Wordplay highlights the Ransom Center's war poetry collections. Actor Shawn Hamilton of Houston's Alley Theatre reads and interprets works by poets of the First World War as well as poets who lived through periods of conflict and turned to poetry to express something of their experience.

Anne Sexton

October 4, 2021 - Melissa Pritchett

Selections from the works of American poet Anne Sexton are featured in this installment of the Harry Ransom Center's Wordplay virtual poetry series. Sexton won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for her book Live or Die, and her writing often relates to her struggle with depression and includes details of her personal life. The Center holds manuscripts, correspondence, notes, and other materials that explore her writing career from her earliest poems to the materials published after her death. Actor Melissa Pritchett of Houston's Alley Theatre brings to life through performance and commentary Sexton's raw, highly personal, and confessional works.

16th- and 17th-century Poets

September 6, 2021 - Todd Waite

Works of celebrated 16th- and 17th-century poets including John Skelton, William Shakespeare, Anne Bradstreet, and John Donne are highlighted in this installment of the Harry Ransom Center's Wordplay virtual poetry series. Actor Todd Waite of Houston's Alley Theatre brings to life through performance and commentary important works of poetry by authors represented in the Ransom Center's collections.

Dylan Thomas

August 2, 2021 - Melissa Molano

Dive into the works of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in this installment of the Harry Ransom Center's Wordplay virtual poetry series. Actor Melissa Molano of Houston's Alley Theatre captures the rhythmic nature of Thomas' writing and provides commentary. The Ransom Center is home to the largest collection of Dylan Thomas manuscripts in the world, many of which can be viewed online in the Dylan Thomas digital collection.

  • About the Alley Theatre

    Actors from Alley Theatre's Resident Acting Company will activate each poet's words, offering commentary about their dissection and reaction to the written words. The Theatre's commitment to maintaining a Resident Acting Company has made it unique among American theatre companies and enables artists to deepen their work through long-term collaboration and strong ties to the community. One of America's leading nonprofit theatres, the Alley Theatre is led by Artistic Director Rob Melrose and Managing Director Dean R. Gladden. Featuring current plays, re-invigorated classics, and new work by contemporary writers, the Theatre reaches more than 200,000 people each year through nearly 500 performances and educational programs. Learn more about the 2021-2022 season lineup.

  • About the Ransom Center's Archival Poetry Holdings

    The Ransom Center's poetry holdings span hundreds of years, a variety of poetic genres, and come from countries all around the world. Twentieth-century poetry holdings include the work of Billy Collins, e. e. cummings, T. S. Eliot, Robert Lowell, Louis MacNeice, Christopher Okigbo, Ezra Pound, Frederick Seidel, Anne Sexton, Edith Sitwell, James Tate, Dylan Thomas, and Dara Weir, among others. The Center holds extensive collections of Beat Generation poets, including materials related to William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac.

    Eighteenth and nineteenth century archival materials shed light on the creative process of such poets as Edgar Allan Poe, Christina Rossetti, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde,. The Center also has extensive holdings by Romantic Poets and includes poetry by William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and William Wordsworth.

    The Center contains one of the largest collections of poetry related to the experience of war written by combatants and noncombatants alike. Included in the collection are printed and manuscript works by men and women from many countries and multiple languages and conflicts. In addition, it includes the recent acquisition of The Dean Echenberg War Poetry Collection.

Alley Theatre

Program Sponsor
Funding generously provided by
the Madison Charitable Foundation.

The series is co-directed by Alley Associate Producer & Casting Director Brandon Weinbrenner.

Programs & Symposia Exhibitions