Pretty early on in his life, John Tyson knew what he wanted to do. From the time he was a little boy living in northern California, he wanted to be an actor. He earned his degrees in theater from Cal Berkley and later the University of North Carolina. Afterwards he moved around the country quite a bit.
He would eventually wind up in New York City, where he lived for the next nine years. It was while there that he met up with his longtime friend Gregory Boyd, the director of the Alley Theatre, who invited him to come to work here. And so Tyson moved to Houston in 1998 and has remained here ever since.
What he does? John Tyson has been acting for 40 years. He's worked in companies all over the United States: the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Stagewest and the Playmakers Repertory. For the last 14 seasons he has been a resident company member of the Alley. His most notable performances have included Dromios in The Comedy of Errors, Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night and his most recent performance as Richard Harkin in The Seafarer. Tyson says most of the time his schedule is pretty full. He works six days a week and although acting takes up most of his life, that is fine with him.
"It's very dangerous work being in front of an audience every night. It's very stressful, mysterious, but it's also a lot of fun. "
Besides acting, Tyson has also done some directing at the Alley. He directed The Woman in Black, as well as his own plays Act of Passion and The Good Thief. In recent years, he had also written his own adaptation of Christmas Carol and the musical Happy Ending.
What inspires him? "The desire to be somebody other than myself," he says. "It gives me the opportunity to be someone other than John Tyson." Other than that, he says it's inspiring just to go in front of a group of strangers and help them forget the troubles that they have in their daily lives...even if it's just for a few hours.
"I just like entertaining people, making people laugh, and like making people listen. That's the thing that keeps me going." And he is constantly looking for new ways to impress the audience.
If not this, then what? "I'd be building custom-made dollhouses. " After building his first dollhouse a few years ago for a friend's daughter, he says, it became a hobby of his. He tries to make time for it, but doesn't have much to spare.
If not here, then where? Point Reyes, California, a small town just north of San Francisco, is where he would like to be when he retires.
"It's quiet and pretty. There's a lot of aging hippies there, so it's a very mellow community."
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What's next? Tyson and the rest of the members of the Alley have been rehearsing every day in preparation for the last show of the season, a farce called Noises Off, in which Tyson will be playing an old English actor at the end of his career who has a major drinking problem.
As far as his future is concerned, Tyson just wants to keep doing what he's doing. "Until they get sick of me and throw me out...I'll be working at the Alley Theatre."
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