For any artistic community to thrive, collaboration is key. Collaboration promotes learning, a larger ability to create, and connections that may last a lifetime. Local actor, writer, and director Michael Winder understands this and looks to bring an even higher level of collaboration to the local theater community.
Winder has been a staple of the theater community since he arrived in our Willamette Valley years ago. Since then, Winder has landed roles on stages in both Albany and Corvallis, taught improv classes at the Majestic Theatre, and performed as part of Infinite Improv for over two years. His most recent acting turn came as the lovelorn Tony in Kiss Me Like You Mean It this past July at the Majestic Theatre.
Winder’s love for theater finds its roots in his childhood and in his teaching career. His natural tendency toward being an entertainer tied with the improvisational nature of his eventual teaching led him to the stage.
One of Winder’s favorite aspects of theater is the feeling of being in a team with all involved in any given production.
“The one thing that I know I love about theater is the team aspect,” Winder said. “You’ve got a group of actors who need to communicate well and work with each other and have a lot of confidence in each other. You have your technicians and your crew around that and you have a director who’s just sort of shaping this whole amorphous mass of people. As a teacher, you’re kind of isolated, and I’ve always been kind of an introverted kind of guy, so theater kind of fulfilled this need to work together with people.”
While Winder spreads his efforts across all aspects of theater, the thrill of the performance and the joy of creating through writing are what keep him coming back.
“I can’t lie, I like being on stage and having people laugh at me, and clapping because of something I did,” Winder said. “But at the same time, performing something that I’ve written is just the dream. It’s the best thing.”
Winder’s list of stage credits is only overshadowed by the Midsummer Arts Festival, a non-profit arts festival that he started in 2013.The festival provides free access to theatrical performances, both new and old, to the Albany community. After three consecutive successful years, Winder’s hope is that his little theater festival continues to grow and becomes a staple in the community for years to come.
With the establishment of the Midsummer Arts Festival and Winder’s new position as the Events and Production Coordinator for Linn-Benton Community College, Winder hopes to promote the performing arts through large-scale collaboration.
“The number one goal is to help facilitate a performing arts hub of companies, high schools, middle schools, the Majestic, Albany Civic Theatre, and just getting us all together to collaborate,” Winder said. “Through this collaboration, you can increase exposure to performing arts in general, which in turn increases the number of people [willing] to come out to shows.”
Winder is a selfless talent who isn’t looking for fame. He only hopes to elevate the community he’s a part of to even greater heights, and to leave a mark on the region that welcomed him with open arms.
By Nathan Hermanson