Chris J Handley is the Executive Artistic Director at Buffalo’s Alleyway Theatre, a professional non-profit theatre company and incubator for bold and visceral original theatre works. The company produces full seasons of new plays and musicals that embrace authenticity while being uniquely theatrical. Alleyway’s education and development programs foster the talents of emergent artists from Western New York and beyond.

Under Handley’s leadership, the company has thrived during the Covid-19 Pandemic, producing the work of over 30 playwrights and employing over 100 theatre artists during the digital season. Additionally, Alleyway has garnered national attention from American Theatre magazine and Playbill.com for its work. The company is a member of the National New Play Network, and was the first local theatre to produce digital programming in 2020. During the 20/21 season, Alleyway staff has increased individual giving by more than 70%, built new corporate partnerships, and secured several national competitive grants.

Theatre is nothing if not collaborative, and made for everyone. The company is committed to creating an equitable and accessible, diverse and inclusive, joyful community of artists, staff, and audiences.

Learn more about Alleyway.


Mr. Handley served as Alleyway’s Associate Artistic Director for two seasons before his appointment as Executive Artistic Director in June 2020. He grew up in WNY and has worked as an actor, director, educator across the country.

At Alleyway, he has been seen onstage in Navigators, Philosophus, Reefer Madness and Unholy Trinity. He is a five-time Artie nominee for his work on stages across the region: Fun Home, The Tempest, Talley’s Folly, Assassins, and Reefer Madness.

Handley’s work as an actor and director runs the gamut from classic and contemporary musical theatre to Shakespeare and Ibsen, award-winning indie soaps to Mississippi Riverboat entertainment. In the new play field, he has directed and performed in multitudes of productions, workshops and readings, shepherding new work through all stages of development.

He previously taught Acting and Voice/Speech at Indiana University and is currently on the faculty at SUNY Fredonia where he teaches Acting and Directing. He is Vice President of the Theatre District Association, a Cullen Fellow, 2019 Spark Awards Finalist for Artist of the Year, and previously served on the Buffalo/Rochester Actors’ Equity Liaison Committee.

MFA Acting Indiana University, BFA Musical Theatre SUNY Fredonia.

You can reach him at chandley@alleyway.com