February 5th, 2010
Richard Warner! Who are you?
I’ve been working as a pro actor since 1974. My wife, Jude, and I moved to NYC right after I got my MFA from Catholic University. We kicked around the City for about a dozen years, doing shows Off and Off-Off Broadway, some soaps and a fair amount of regional work. Then we had our kid, Ben, and that changed our thinking quite a bit about life and art and all that good stuff. When Ben was 2 years old, I landed a job on the theater faculty at University of Virginia. Twenty plus years later here I am a tenured professor and head of the UVa acting programs….what can I say, I loved the teaching and Charlottesville in a beautiful place to live.
Fair enough… but how do you know Sideshow?
A number of the rascals who created this company are former students of mine: Scottie Caldwell, Jonathan, Walt, Matt, Karie, Faith Hurley, Autumn, Lisi, John Bonner, Nate Whelden. A sound designer by the name of Ben Warner is also an artistic associate…lots of wonderful connections.
Why are you a theatre educator?
Remember that list of UVA rascals I mentioned a little while ago? That’s why, really. Any acting teacher will tell you this. I’m a pretty blessed guy. I have had the distinct pleasure of exploring the craft with a lot of very creative young artists. And I guess I really enjoy the stability. One aspect of the life of an actor that has really come into sharp focus for me again in this Chi-town experience is how much energy and discipline and confidence and drive one has to produce in a daily way to keep an acting career going. I could tell you that I miss that, but that would be a lie. I have an artistic home where my work is valued. I wish that for all hard-working theater artists.
Wait… if it’s so great at UVA working with awesome students, why aren’t you there right now shaping even awesomer students?
The university has awarded me a paid leave to dive into some creative research. So here I am in Chicago, a city I really never knew. I will be working on this amazing, wild play by Jane Burroway through April. I am also in the process of writing a play. And I will be having conversations with intern and educational program director from the Goodman and Steppenwolf. Plus a workshop or two for Sideshow and maybe a workshop or two at Northwestern. The plate is pretty full.
Tina trained in improv here in Chicago too! Speaking of Chicago, how do you like it so far?
It’s real cold. It’s real windy. The people are a lot more friendly than say your typical New Yorker. Everyone seems to be living at the same pace. There’s a community spirit that I don’t even feel that much in my small hometown village in Virginia. You can get a mean deep-dish pizza. The top theater in town at the elite institutions has the look, feel and integrity of the finest regional theater I have seen in my 30 years of watching. It does not seem to be driven exclusively by the same mercantile values of Broadway.
Well, Chicago and Sideshow are honored to have you. What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get home?
Hug my wife, run around with our jack russell and take a good long walk in my neighborhood.
Nice! Thank you so much for your time, Richard. I can’t wait to see you soon!
“I always had a soft spot in my heart for the Stegosaurus….I guess this is mostly because I had a bright orange one when I was a kid that I used to take to bed with me…”