After a decade in New Mexico (including a two-year stint teaching at Zuni Pueblo), educator and Teatro Paraguas mainstay Alix Hudson is moving to the Midwest with her fiancee Charla Stearn. Hudson’s work has dazzled the local theater scene both on and offstage for ages—and you can still catch her in stage show Red Bike before she goes. Still, this one’s a real blow to local arts, so we snuck in a quick Q&A before Hudson departs.
First of all, where the hell do you think you’re going?
Michigan. We’re moving to a little town called Cedar Springs, which is just outside of Grand Rapids, and it is a really neat and sort of in-between spot between my fiancee’s family and mine.
I absolutely love New Mexico, but I am more of a Midwest kind of of ecology person. I like gardening out here, but I’m still not that great at it—and I’m a really good gardener. My parents have a 40-foot apple tree that grew out of the compost, as an example. Also, if we were to stay here, we couldn’t afford a couple acres and a nice house. Knock on wood, we’re closing on about 6 acres in Michigan, and we’re gonna kind of homestead a little bit. That’s the plan. Charla has a job as a band teacher with Grand Rapids Public Schools, and I’ve had an interview…for early childhood special ed.
An artist’s job is never truly done, but do you feel you accomplished what you set out to accomplish at Teatro Paraguas?
No. I’ll just say that because I don’t even want to say I’m closing the door. Obviously it will be different, and I won’t be able to do whatever with Teatro Paraguas at a moment’s notice, as long as they’ll have me writing the Christmas show, taking minutes, working the online fundraiser....I want to still be there for Paraguas.
I like that idea that I could ever be a person who says ‘I’ve completed the thing!’ But I’ve been very, very happy with many projects in many different ways. The beauty of my plays being staged, that total honor, that total heart full-ness. I’ll never forget The Elliott Trilogy, getting to play a ditzy character, getting to play the characters I never thought I’d play—even getting to be in the Paraguas Orchestra on ukulele; I’m not very good, but I did it! I got to be creative in ways I never thought I would. I got to do soundscapes for several shows.
I guess that doesn’t fully answer it, but I feel like I’ve done a lot, and I hope there is still more. There may be a natural ending, but we have our biological family back in the Midwest, and we’ve really got family—familia—through Teatro Paraguas, and I know we won’t lose track of each other.
Is there anything you learned during your Santa Fe tenure that you’ll carry with you moving forward?
This is an education thing, not a theater thing, but especially during COVID, with teaching, or just teaching in general, that idea of starting to let go of perceived control. No, I guess that’s a theater thing, too. You know, my first show I directed in college when I was a junior, I just had this vision and I needed to see it through, but that’s the worst way to teach, the worst way to direct. It took me doing my first Benchwarmers [at the Santa Fe Playhouse], I think. I applied and got accepted, and I just sat and didn’t say boo when the director Jonah Winn-Lenetsky found all these things in my script that I hadn’t written, and I don’t know if I would have found that nuance.
He did a lovely job, and watching a gifted director direct my piece—that trust, to see where trust can lead you, and it’s the same thing in your classroom. You can control small children, that’s the ugly truth, and people do it far too often. They manipulate them and control them to be little cyborgs, but it’s better if you trust that they’re curious, trusting, caring little people, and they have things they want to learn about. If you hold onto control, you’re not only going to fail, you’re going to do everyone a disservice. You have to trust everyone is there. You trust your colleagues and your students and everyone’s going to do better and you’re not going to give yourself a heart attack at 35.
That’s something I’ve suspected for the last few years, but I’ve really learned now. This last year was a real reckoning space, and I asked myself who am I other than someone who does theater every night. I don’t feel I haven’t found myself, but I won’t go so far as to say I ‘self-actualized,’ but I’m pretty aware and I loved the people who were around.