UVA Drama Celebrates the Career of Richard Warner
During his 30 years teaching acting at the University, Richard Warner compiled a directing resume that would be the envy of nearly anyone who has ever heard theatre’s call – including shows like Hamlet, A Streetcar Named Desire, Raisin in the Sun, and The Glass Menagerie, just to name a few.
Yet, when asked to look back at what he will remember most, Warner recalls moments when the lights weren’t quite so bright. “We have a little studio we affectionately call ‘Boo-Six,’ for ‘Basement 006,” he said. “It was my favorite studio to work in. I would go down there with graduate actors and undergraduate actors and they would produce scenes that were truly magnificent, but only 12 or 14 people ever saw them. These were splendid works of art that were done with a bunch of heart and soul, things that no one else will ever know about, but that I will carry with me.”
Making art is hard work. But for Warner, it was always a labor of love. “Every time I went into the studio, I got to work with UVA students who are such imaginative, lively, inventive people. You know, friends would sometimes tell me I seem so young. Well, there is no magic in that. I spent 30 years with 20 year olds, working together on self-expression, and finding the truth in these particular moments written by great authors.”
The feeling was mutual. “Richard was more than a professor,” said Jacquie Walters (College ‘11). He was a mentor, a fellow explorer, and an artist. “Not only is he incredibly talented himself, but he has an uncanny ability to find a student’s talent and nourish, knead, coax, challenge, and encourage it.”
He is quick to point out that like many transitions, this one is an end as well as a beginning. “Like old soldiers,” Warner said, “actors don’t die, they just fade away.” In addition to his latest and most coveted role as “doting grandfather,” he said he plans to act as long as he can speak, and will continue to impact lives and careers through the kind of heart-fueled coaching that impacted so many lives across Grounds and beyond. “Above all else,” Walters said, “Richard helped us realize that all we ever needed to be a great artist – or influencer, scientist, citizen, or simply person – was already inside of us. I still use his mantra today, ‘I am enough.’ What lesson could possibly be more important than that?”