Alley ready for challenge of directing ‘Arabian Nights’ in return to Bearden


Kira Suerth

Ms. Alley works with her group of advanced acting students during a recent class.

Emily Simmons, Staff Writer

As the second semester takes off, students adjust to their new classes and a new Bearden faculty member adjusts to her role as director of the spring drama production.

Ms. Katie Alley returned to Bearden this fall and will take on this year’s show Arabian Nights.

Ms. Alley attended the University of Tennessee and interned under Bearden theater teacher Mrs. Leann Dickson whilst earning her degree in education in 1999. She also taught at Bearden from roughly 2000-2006, during which time she was Ms. Norwood.  After leaving Bearden, Ms. Alley went on to teach at Sacred Heart in their theater department, and then at Catholic High School as a theater teacher before returning to Bearden in the fall of 2016.

“Bearden is really home to me,” she said. “It is where I learned to teach under the fabulous mentor, friend, and teacher, Mrs. Dickson.

“At Catholic, I was in charge of all the productions, and here at Bearden there is the advanced acting class, the stage tech class, and the advanced cast that really allows the students to have lives outside of the theater. It really is an amazing program.”

Not only does Ms. Alley have big plans for the upcoming production, but she also has plans to expand the theater department.

“I really want to reignite the advanced acting program here at Bearden – to breed a new energy,” Mrs. Alley said. “The theater program here is very well established with a lot of available resources and support.

“Another goal I have other than to just create and bring back excitement to the advanced theater program is to just carry the torch that Mrs. Dickson has been carrying. I want to uphold the standard of excellence held here at Bearden.”

Students in the theater department are also excited to get to work with Ms. Alley with the upcoming production. Yahyaa Jahangir and McKenzie Stump, both seniors and Bearden theater veterans, expressed excitement for working with Ms. Alley and are optimistic about the spring production.

“Ms. Alley really challenges us,” Stump said. “She doesn’t want us to do things they way everyone else does. She wants us to bring something new to the table and really be unique.”

Added Jahangir: “Ms. Alley is a phenomenal director. Mrs. Dickson speaks very highly of her and I look forward to getting to work with her on Arabian Nights.”

Auditions have yet to occur for the unique spring production, but excitement is already evident in the students.

“This production is really unique in a sense, because it’s a story about stories, and there are a lot of ensemble pieces too,” Jahangir said. “Also the set is going to be relatively simple and the costumes are what is going to be the focus.

“A definite challenge for this production is the overall Middle Eastern origins and the names within the production that come from the Middle East.”

Added Stump: “I am super excited about the possibility for us to paint the floor of the stage as part of the set, and the costumes that will be used for the story. Also this piece is a really big ensemble production unlike most others I have done.”

This production is a subject of excitement for Ms. Alley and the students.

“I chose this production because I was looking for something with a lot of ensemble in it, and this adaptation of Arabian Nights was recommended to me by a fellow theater teacher,” Ms. Alley said.

Arabian Nights has roughly 76 characters, according to Ms. Alley, and will require many costumes and students to play multiple roles with many lines.

“This production is not only unique due to its characters, set, and costumes, but it’s very important to me in the sense that it’s all about stories and storytelling,” Ms. Alley said. “That’s  something truly important to me because I believe stories can change lives, heal wounds, and just truly create change which is something I am all about.”