Hopkinton POS

HCA Spotlight Series Family

 HCA Spotlight
 Learn more about the people who call the HCA 'home'.

Gene Houk, HCA and ESL Theater volunteer

Can you share with me a little bit about your professional background? Theater background? I have been involved with computers since the early 70's. As a young man, I was always tinkering with electricity. If someone in the neighborhood had a tv or radio problem, I would be the one to test the tubes in the unit and replace the bad one.It was not a far stretch to start my own computer company to help users get the most from their machines. I sold my company in Texas to come up to the Northeast to help raise my two grandsons. 

I can remember as a small child walking to downtown Enid, Oklahoma with a quarter in my pocket. This would gain admission to a movie theater, a coke, and a pickle. I would then spend all afternoon watching movies over and over again, To go to sleep that night, I would replay scenes in my head. My family lived in Venice, Ca during my junior high school days. I first delved into theater at that time and was actually working. I would take a bus to a studio and sometimes the guard would look the other way as I roamed the lots. I found parts such as Tom Sawyer at a Mark Twain Jr High school production and even played a part in an Oscar's skit one year. Let's just say that I have been enamoured with theater from very early times. I resumed my active theater life after my children were raised. I performed in and directed shows for several theaters in and around Midland, Texas.

How do you approach directing/technical directing?  Do you have a particular philosophy? I believe that the role of the director is to develop a safe space for the actors to present a story. I manage the working space to enhance the story and give the audience pretty pictures. I try to draw the characters from the actors and give them great leeway to interpret their parts. I am usually surprised with the nuances that the actors naturally develop. I hope that the actors trust me to tell them when something doesn't work. 

What made you want to get involved at HCA? When we moved to Hopkinton, I began searching for a local theater. I made contact with Kelly at ESL, we had coffee, and the rest is history.

What has been the most memorable experience thus far at the HCA? This is a hard question. I probably had the most fun directing The Game's Afoot. 

Previous to HCA, I had spent all my time in front of the curtain acting or directing. Here, I have spent more time working the technical part of theater. I have had to learn lighting, sound, optics, etc. It has made me a more well rounded theater person.

How have you adapted to making art during the pandemic? Two words - green screen. I have helped produce video productions by developing backgrounds to enhance the recent on-line shows. 

Alyssa McQuillan, dance instructor

Tell us about yourself? I grew up and still live in Bellingham, MA.

What led you to the Hopkinton Center for the Arts?  I began working at the HCA in 2018 when I was told about a front desk position opening. I was originally hired for that position but was later asked if I could teach a pre-ballet class and that's when I slowly started teaching more and more dance classes here at the HCA! I absolutely love dance and teaching children, so being a youth dance instructor is a dream job for me.

Have you seen yourself grow as an artist since participating in HCA classes and performances? If so, how? I have definitely seen myself grow in the art of dance since I began teaching at the HCA. The HCA has allowed me an opportunity to find my own style of teaching and I am so grateful for that. 

What value do you think the HCA brings to Metrowest? The HCA brings such wonderful things to the MetroWest area. It allows children all the way up to adults the ability to explore all different styles of art and I think it is an amazing benefit to the community. In my opinion, every form of art can have such a positive impact on people's lives and its great to have one organization offer so much to people of all ages in the area. 

What is unique about the adult student experience at HCA? What's unique about the adult student experience is that it offers such a variety of classes to adult students which I think is greatly appreciated by adults in the area. It can be hard to find fun adult classes with convenient times and the HCA offers just that.

What is your fondest memory at the HCA? I have lots of fond memories of participation here so it's hard to choose just one. One of my favorites would be watching the children I taught all year long dance in the spring showcase back in 2019. Seeing how much fun the kids were having brought me such joy and pride that I never felt before.

What has teachinga the HCA been like during COVID? I taught online hip-hop and creative dance classes online this past spring and summer. I loved being able to provide kids with some structure in their days and a lot of them told me how grateful they were for the classes. It was definitely different not being able to teach in person, but I had the chance to get really creative in the way I taught and I learned a lot!

What suprises you most abou the HCA? The ability for instructors to get creative and offer classes that you might not normally see other places. There is such a wide variety of fun classes taught by some of the most creative instructors!

Learn more about the HCA dance program here.



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