A Brief Interview with Wendy
Why did you come to Durham?
I have to answer that by telling you why I left New York. When Australia granted me its Distinguished Talent Visa, which allowed me to live and work in Melbourne as long as I wanted, it was too rare an opportunity to pass up. I had already been considering leaving New York because I'd been there for 27 years, and it was changing into more of a tourist destination with a Gap, Starbucks and Barnes & Noble on every corner. Like so many other die-hard New Yorkers, I was becoming disillusioned and tired of the dirt, noise and ever increasingly overcrowded conditions. (See David Byrne's article in Rolling Stone "The Rich Are Destroying New York Culture") There are almost half a million more people in New York now than when I left! It felt like the right time to begin a new life journey.
So I moved to Melbourne and spent a few wonderful years there (commuting back to New York each year for our Six-Week Intensive.) When I realized that I was "very" American and didn't want to spend the rest of my life in Australia, I took a four-month sabbatical and visited friends here in Durham. I got a feel for what was happening in the Triangle and simply decided this would be a great place to land when I returned from Down Under.
And you've opened a theater company in Durham too.
Yes, and it's been really satisfying to witness the extraordinary response that we've been getting. We opened our first season with a wonderful little show called JACUZZI that received 4-1/2 stars from INDY Week and recently finished showing our original work I WISH YOU A BOAT that had audiences pretty much on the edge of their seats. Both the public and our critics have really embraced the work that we're doing here. And when they discover that some of our ensemble members have never acted before, they're pretty blown away -- which I think is a great testimony to the quality of the Studio's Meisner program.
No matter how much previous training you may have, you'll find that Wendy can still make you better, bolder and more inspired to do extraordinary work.
Wendy Ward received her BA in drama in 1981 from Duke University where she has served on the Advisory Board for the University’s drama department. She continued her training at the National Theatre Institute and studied in New York with Anna Deavere Smith, James Price, and Vivian Matalon. In 1989, she became Associate Director of The Acting Studio, one of New York's leading schools devoted to the work of Sanford Meisner. In 1996, she founded the Ward Studio, a professional actor training program specializing in the Meisner Approach.
Ms. Ward has served on the faculty of University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania teaching Meisner to sophomores. She has directed over seventy productions in New York, Philadelphia and Melbourne, Australia, a third of which were original pieces devised in her performance workshop program. She works with actors from all over the world in her New York Acting Intensive – a program which continues to be one New York's most challenging summer actor training programs.
Ms. Ward has a podcast series available for free on iTunes and is featured in the books Acting Teachers of America by Ronald Rand and Acting Career Start-Up by Anthony Smith, available in major bookstores.