To say that David Brian Alley is a seasoned performer might be an understatement to the adjective. Alley has been a physicist, worked under Ebenezer Scrooge and has been multiple other people at once.
But first and foremost, he is a professional actor
and Artist-in-Residence at UT.
Alley has been in 37 productions in 13 seasons at Clarence Brown, including holiday classics, "A Christmas Carol," "It's a Wonderful Life" and the physics-based play "Copenhagen."
This fall, Alley will play a lead role in "Noises Off." Alley's character is an actor in a play called "Nothing On." The play follows the actors on "Nothing On" from production to closing night of their disastrous theatrical journey. "Noises Off" contains the playwithin-a-play structure, which, according to Alley, is a complex production.
"From a preparation standpoint and a research standpoint, I have to have an understanding of my character, Frederick Fellows," Alley said. "I have to have an understanding of his understanding of his character, Phillip Brent."
As an artist-in-residence at UT, Alley is a part of the professional company at the Clarence Brown Theater and teaches acting and, sometimes, play analysis classes.
"As a long-time artist-in-residence at the Clarence Brown Theatre, David Brian Alley has gained a very loyal fan following," said Robin Conklin, marketing director of the Clarence Brown Theatre. "Our patrons love him and many select specific productions just because he is in them."
Alley, who admires the work of fellow actor Kevin Bacon, said his favorite production is "Stones in His Pockets." In this play, two actors play the main roles of Jake and Charlie, as well as the 15 other characters. Alley played in this production at the CBT in 2006, as well as Playmakers Repertory in North Carolina.
"I don't think I've ever been in any production where I felt quite so raw and exposed in any given moment," Alley said. "It was just the two of us. If something went wrong, all we had to rely on was each other."
During one particular performance of "Stones in his Pockets," Alley said he realized the benefits gained from his education.
"Stones in his Pockets" was set to run for one more week at Clarence Brown when his fellow actor, Matt Detmer, was called to New York. Charlie Flynn-McIver, who had just finished the same show in North Carolina, was brought in to play out the last week of the production.
Flynn-McIver had two days to rehearse with Alley before they performed in front of an audience.
"It was kind of terrifying for me to learn the Clarence Brown version in just two days," Flynn-McIver said, seven years after the performance. "Of the people I've been on stage with and had to trust, David is on top.
"He knew his stuff so well that he could help me out. He is a very generous actor." Alley said this show was the most defining moment of his career.
"There were probably not any other two actors on the American theater on stage that night who were listening to each other more carefully and more intently than the two of us," Alley said.
Throughout his career, Alley has continued his education to gain more knowledge of the acting world. He has an MFA in theatre performance and a BA in theatre from UT. He also attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, from which he has an AA.
Los Angeles, Chapel Hill and Chicago have all welcomed Alley to their stage as a professional actor. His time in Chicago gave him the opportunity to occasionally work with actresses and comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
Alley has appeared in film and on TV in "It's a Miracle," "Unsolved Mysteries," "Something/Anything" and "The Heart is Deceitful." He played in the short film, "Gina: An Actress Age 29," that earned the 2001 short film jury award at the Sundance Film Festival.
As an actor, there is a lot of preparation to be done before a show, which Alley said is another favorite thing about his career. During the production of "Copenhagen" Alley learned the basics of nuclear physics to play his role, and must learn the background information for every character he plays.
"In the preparation process and when I'm doing research there is always something new to learn," he said. "While there are some things that are more challenging, it's always fun because I'm always learning."
Admission to opening night of "Noises Off" is free of charge and every other night is $5 for students and ranges from $12 to $40 for non-students. The play will run from Sept. 5 to Sept. 22.