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Meet Will Oliver, the director behind the Johnson City Community Theatre's "Blithe Spirit" production

Jonathan Roberts • Jun 16, 2019 at 12:00 AM

At just 26 years old, the Johnson City Community Theatre’s Will Oliver already has more than a decade of experience in theater, and he’s not stopping anytime soon.

Born in Bristol, Oliver sort of fell into theater. Coming into high school, he described himself as a kid without any hobbies, because he wasn’t a band kid and didn’t play any sports in high school.

But once he found theater, he found himself.

Oliver has since performed at every theater in the Tri-Cities area, and has even traveled to Chicago and New York for auditions. He’s been with the Johnson City Community Theatre for five years, and It’s clear he’s established himself well as an actor. As a director though, he’s just getting started.

Will Oliver Briefly: 

Favorite production you’ve been a part of: Green Day’s “American Idiot” in Morristown

Favorite artist: David Bowie

Favorite restaurant in the Tri-Cities: Bloom Cafe in Bristol

One play you want to direct: Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”

One city to vacation anywhere: Paris, France

What got you into theater?

My friends. It all started with my high school forensics team at Sullivan East (High School), they told me ‘oh, you’d be good at this’ so I was like ‘OK, cool!’ and I auditioned without knowing what it was like and I just found that one thing. I was never a sports kid, a band kid or anything else, really, and I found theater I found what my niche is and what brings me into it. That literally brought me into me auditioning with Theatre Bristol — my first theater — and now I’m proud to say I’ve worked with every theater in the Tri-Cities area.

What has you excited about directing “Blithe Spirit”?

It’s a full-on period piece, creating the era of 1941. I’m very visually inclined and so creating the visual aspect is everything, whether it’s curating actual vintage pieces or theater magic to make it look very old. And, the piece itself is actually very funny, it’s a true farce. I work onstage and off, I act as much as I direct so it’s really interesting to see it from an actor’s perspective and then curate it from a directors perspective.

What is your favorite aspect about being part of the Johnson City Community Theatre?

Working with any local theater, it’s, in its name, it’s a community theater. It’s community driven, everything we do here is volunteer-based, nobody gets paid to be here so it’s all a hobby art form, we’re all here for the love of it. In my opinion, this is the most hands-on art form.

Why do you think it’s important for the community to have a theater like this?

We are the oldest community theater in Tennessee, and that just proves our durability and the durability of the art form. It’s important because we do a wide range of shows here. It’s very important to utilize your art form and even if you don’t become an artist, theater gives you public speaking skills, confidence, you can learn to do makeup or construction through theater, there’s everything. You can utilize every skillset you have, whether you become an artist or not.

What’s the most challenging about being a director?

From the director’s perspective it’s difficult because all answers come back to you. I’m very hands on with my actors/actresses and like I said I’m very aesthetically inclined so all answers have to come from me. And it gets to a point where you can’t answer everything any more, so that’s where your stage manager comes in. It’s all about knowing where your skill set lies, what you’re good at and knowing when to call for help.

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