Thomas Joyner’s professional life touches many points of the creative compass, but it always seems to come back to the stage. As an educator, scholar, writer, and theatre professional, his work consistently reflects his commitment to impactful, entertaining, and educational communication that moves the needle. He believes in the vital importance of history, literature, and the arts as tools to educate and engage us with each other, our communities, and our world.
A unique set of educational and work experiences gives Joyner a broad array of critical and creative skills in the areas of writing, editing, research, project management, analysis, implementation, assessment, and course and presentation design, as well as a strong grasp of effective narrative structure and the application of story-telling techniques in entertainment, personal, and business contexts.
As a university theatre educator at Eastern Mennonite University, the University of Central Florida, Rollins College, and the University of Colorado, Joyner created and taught over a dozen courses encompassing theatre history, dramatic literature, script analysis, public speaking, and performance while serving as a director and dramaturg for nine productions, including Dancing at Lughnasa, Antigone, the musical Triumph of Love, Stones in His Pockets, All My Sons and the rock musical Hair.
Among Joyner’s credits as a freelance director and dramaturg are fourteen other full productions, among them Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly, Last Summer and The Glass Menagerie for theatres in Central Florida and Queen Margaret for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. He worked closely with William Missouri Downs on staged reading and workshop productions of his contemporary Chekhovian comedy Seagulls in a Cherry Tree for the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre’s Playfest. From 2006 to 2008, he also acted as co-producer and director for a series of private play readings in Winter Park, Florida in collaboration with actor Tom Nowicki and some of Central Florida’s best professional actors.
As a performer, Joyner’s resume includes significant roles in dozens of plays including Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, Prospero in Return to the Forbidden Planet, Orgon in Tartuffe, Aeneas in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, The Captain in Woyzeck, Buffalo Bill in Arthur Kopit’s Indians, Hermocrates in The Triumph of Love, and The Man Going Back in The Grapes of Wrath for university, professional, and community theatres in Florida, Colorado, and Virginia. He participated in the first semester of Naropa University’s Actor-created Physical Theatre program under Amy Russell and Thomas Prattki, who went on to found the London International School of Performing Arts. These encounters, and his exposure to Barabbas, a Dublin-based clown-theatre company, sparked on ongoing fascination with devised theatre. Most recently, Joyner performed as a versatile voice-over talent for Rosetta Stone language software products.
Joyner’s scholarly work includes extensive research on the Irish theatre of the twentieth century and a four-year stint as writer/editor of study guides for the University of Colorado Department of Theatre and Dance. The course of his graduate studies was strongly influenced by his first mentor, Dr. Haiping Yan (now of Cornell University), and he completed his dissertationon on physical impairment as a metaphor for Ireland’s divided political geography in 2007 under the supervision of Dr. James Symons, professor emeritus. More recently, Joyner presented a paper, “Irish Clown and Celtic Tiger: Barabbas’s The Whiteheaded Boy takes on the New Ireland” and directed a pair of short plays at the 2008 Mid-America Theatre Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.
In the Nineties, Tom was a freelance writer who put himself through school on earnings from his work for DC and Image Comics, where he co-created and scripted three original series – Hammerlocke, Scarlett, and Damage – and scripted individual issues of a number of other titles, including Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. He composed trading card copy for DC, was un-credited scripter on the computer adventure game Helicops and, while in graduate school, reimagined a series of books on business topics into The Deli Zone, a humorous graphic story series for Creative Learning International. In the new century, before becoming consumed with teaching, he contributed to the website poppolitics.com, and created website copy for HealthTouch Associates, a multi-disciplinary alternative healthcare practice in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
By following the trail laid down by his diverse talents and passions, Joyner nevertheless always comes back to the theatre. Despite the chaotic media landscape of the 21st century, he believes that live theatre remains the beating heart of any civilization’s conversation about its values and choices. Since the Greek Golden Age, the stage has been the place where the deeper currents of a society’s maturation first burst into the public mind, the forum through which the complex undercurrents, transgressions, compromises, and central truths of cultures and peoples first find expression and are best read and understood. By maintaining its cutting edge vitality, theatre continues to shape our cultural dialogue, influencing and infusing the broader popular culture with its unique aliveness and adaptability.