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Ms. Valerie O'Riordan

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Bio

I grew up in Southern California as the youngest child of loving parents: a creative, funny mother and a strict policeman father.

At the age of 12, I knew that I wanted to work in a creative field. At 19, I defined theatre as that field, and since then all my professional pursuits have been theatrical in nature.

I began teaching acting in 1986, while continuing my work as an actor, director, producer, and freelance theatre publicist, then joined Actor's Equity Association in 1994.

Career highlights include my thesis project, Tony Kushner's 'Angels in America', at the American Conservatory Theatre; Suzan-Lori Parks' '365 Days/365 Plays' project in 2007 with student dramaturges here at Riordan; and our 2009 production of 'Romeo and Juliet' which married a concept I conceived in college with the designs of two drama alumni.

My interests include gardening, reading and travel, and a favorite quote is "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt" from Shakespeare's 'Measure For Measure'. I live in San Francisco with my husband and two teenagers, and I enjoy my job as Riordan's first female drama director. In 2011 I was awarded a fellowship from the English Speaking Union to study and act on the Globe Theatre stage in London with high school drama teachers from around the country. We are hoping for a 2015 summer reunion for a similar program in Athens, Greece.

Personal Teaching Statement: As a teacher and theatre director I promote an atmosphere where students want to learn. By presenting material in an exciting and individualistic manner, I challenge students to take the work seriously, while maintaining a sense of humor about themselves. Our drama department is a place where students are allowed and encouraged to not only learn by doing, but by taking educated risks. Risk taking is an integral and exciting part of the creative learning process, and can help build self-esteem and define career goals.

The acting process fascinates me, and I am proud of my ability to foster spontaneity, truth and intimacy in actors. My acting curriculum is process-oriented so I can support students in developing their potential to grow as creative artists.