2024 Master Teacher Stephen McKinley Henderson

"Being a Ten Chimney's Fellowship Teacher is an honor and a challenge.  Actors who have served the American Theatre for twenty years on stages throughput the country quickly form an ensemble that is truly inspiring. I have seen the magic before.  Sharing with them enriches me.

Ten Chimneys is a magicians' workshop of Theatre.  The practitioners who come there from across America return to their alchemy with renewed dedication.  I am proud to be one of the Fellowship Teachers who gets to stir the cauldron."

~ Stephen McKinley Henderson, 2024 Master Teacher

Stephen McKinley Henderson’s glowing performances have appeared on stages throughout the United States and abroad, on Broadway and off, and is recognized as a veteran performer of August Wilson's oeuvre.  His signature August Wilson role is the gossipy Turnbo in Jitney, for which he won a Drama Desk Award.  He is also known for his work in film and television.  

He received Obie and Lucille Lortel awards in the Outstanding Lead Actor category for his work as Pops in Stephen Adley Guirgis’ Between Riverside and Crazy, the play which received the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  He revived the role in 2022-23 and was nominated for a Tony as Best Actor. He also appeared on Broadway in Dracula, the Musical, Drowning Crow, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with Charles S. Dutton and Whoopy Goldberg and the premiere of King Hedley II.  He received a Tony nomination as Featured Actor for his work in the 2010 Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences, starring alongside Tony Award winners Denzel Washington and Viola Davis and was also presented with the Richard Seff Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor from Actor’s Equity Association.  In addition, he received a 2017 Virtuoso Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for his work as Bono in Paramount’s Academy Award Nominated film of Fences, again starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.  

Mr. Henderson’s additional film work includes performances in six Oscar nominated films: Denis Villeneuve's Dune, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, Denzel Washington’s Fences, Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea and Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Other film credits include Lester in Tower Heist and roles in Marie, Keane, If You Can Say It in Words, and Native Son. 

Noteworthy television work includes Halle Berry's directorial debut, Bruised for Netflix, the FX/HULU series Dev, Wu Tang: An American Saga, Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series, The Newsroom, HBO Films’ Everyday People and William Duke’s PBS American Playhouse film, A Raisin in the Sun, starring Danny Glover and Esther Rolle. He also had a reoccurring role as a judge for 15 seasons on NBC’s landmark series Law and Order and was a co-star on the FOX series, New Amsterdam.  In addition you will see his work on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Third Watch and Blue Bloods.  Recent works include Ari Aster's Beau Is Afraid, Lila Neugebauer's Causeway, and Alex Garland's Civil War.

In 2023, he received the Lucille Lortel Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Harold Prince Lifetime Achievement from the Drama Desk Awards, "recognizing an individual's lifetime of outstanding contributions to the theater."  The Acting Company honored him with the John Houseman Award in 2024.

Mr. Henderson received the University of North Carolina School of Arts Honorary Doctorate when he delivered their combined 2020/2021 commencement address.  He also delivered the commencement address and received Juilliard's Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts in May of 2017. He was the 2016 Denzel Washington Endowed Chair at Fordham University.  During his 30 years as faculty for the department of Theatre and Dance, State University of New York at Buffalo, Mr. Henderson served periods as Head of Performance and Department Chair.  He retired as Professor Emeritus in 2016. He is a member of the LAByrinth Theatre Company, where he portrayed Pontius Pilate in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  Mr. Henderson is also a Fox Foundation Fellow, and Distinguished Alumnus of Purdue University Graduate School, College of Liberal Arts. 

Master Teachers (2009-2023)

Every year, Ten Chimneys selects and collaborates with a Master Teacher for the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program — a luminary stage actor whose talent, generosity, ability to teach, and dedication to mentoring are deeply admired by stage actors and the entire theatre community. The Master Teacher for each year is a key collaborator in the program, working with Ten Chimneys staff to develop the curriculum, content, and focus of the artistic elements of the experience. During the first two years of the program, the top regional theatre actors in the U.S. spent the artistic portion of their Ten Chimneys immersion delving into Shakespeare — with the late actress Lynn Redgrave in 2009 and renowned Shakespearean Barry Edelstein in 2010. In 2011, they explored Chekhov with award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, and in 2012, the Lunt-Fontanne Fellows focused on American Musical Theatre with Broadway legend Joel Grey. The 2013 program explored spontaneity on stage, and was led by American icon, Alan Alda, and in 2014 the Fellows studied works related to the Lunts' and their illustrious friends with award-winning actor David Hyde Pierce. In 2015 we welcomed Phylicia Rashad, who led the class in roles that were "against type" and differentiated from the characters they typically were cast in. The 2016 program was led by Jason Alexander and focused on the physicalization of choice - the powerful collaboration of mind and body in building a performance.  Our 2017 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Class with Master Teacher Alfred Molina focused on developing fresh ways into character work through text analysis and casting against type.  2018's Fellows led by Stephen McKinley Henderson concentrated on fortifying each actor with justified reality; reflecting that they are coming from an experience to an experience, to do something immediate, important and compelling.  In 2019 and 2022, Tyne Daly used poetry as a medium to focus on renewable energy.  In 2023, Director Jerry Zaks worked with the actors on comedic work and timing.  Sadly, the Fellowship did not occur in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is Ten Chimneys?

Ten Chimneys, the estate lovingly created by theatre legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, is open to the public as a world-class house museum with a progressive mission to serve the arts.

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