By Jacob Nelson
Like many aspiring theatre professionals, John Hounihan got started in college. However, unlike others, he started by completely revamping his university’s theatre company.
While studying management at the University of Houston, Hounihan oversaw the Honors College Club Theater and directed a number of plays for the organization. In doing so, he helped grow its staff from about 15 people to 87, and helped skyrocket its audience from about 10 people to about 700.
“It is my biggest basis for my career goals and gave me valuable experience in theater administration,” Hounihan said. “It was the accomplishment that defined me as an undergrad.”
The way Hounihan was able to successfully revamp the theatre company was by observing what other theaters do well and emulating those traits. On top of that, he also was the one to come in and take the club’s potential seriously.
“The club had a strong lack of direction, they wanted to have fun,” he said. “It took someone to come in and say, ‘Let’s get a bigger venue, get advertising, let’s do all the things that a basic theatre does.’”
By pairing his high school experience working in community theater with what he learned in business classes as an undergrad, Hounihan was able to make big changes with even bigger results.
“I was able to use what I learned in class and talk to the people in the organization,” he said.
The positive experience gave Hounihan the confidence he needed to pursue a professional career in theatre, which is one of the reasons he has enrolled in the MSLCE program.
“This theater gave me the idea that I could be involved in theater administration without a theatre degree,” he said. “With this program I would hope to be able to translate these skills that are maybe 50% theatre skills and 50% administrative bureaucracy.”
He hopes MSLCE will teach him more about the artistic side of the industry to complement his strong understanding of how the business side of theatre works.
“I have a strong business background, but I want to hone the creative side, specifically learning how media contracts work, how fundraising, pitching works,” he said.
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