Festival director acts professionally

Christopher Moore stepped out onto a platform and readied himself to jump.  As he mentally prepared himself to take the plunge, distracting cheers of “Go Chris!” could be heard from friends back on the ground.  Soon after, Moore heard the same cheers again, only this time they came from an audience sitting ten feet away, while he performed as the third-spear carrier from the left.  During high school, Moore balanced a role on the diving team with performances in plays in and outside of school.

“My friends would come see me dive and cheer me on in plays. It was only embarrassing because they treated both as if they were cheering me on at a football game,” he said.  “They were being supportive the only way they knew how and that always made me smile.” Moore was a diver as a junior and senior in high school and into his freshman year of college.

Growing up outside of Washington D.C. with his army-brat stepmother and father, Moore, the current director of the theater program, first stepped on stage at age nine when he performed in “Inherit the Wind.”  The guidance and support of an elementary school teacher paired with his stepmother’s encouraging words were key components in his early development as an actor. Moore received a double major in radio television and theater from Northwestern University, where he met and befriended middle school Dean Kate Benton. They were later reunited at Harvard-Westlake, where Benton recommended him for his teaching position.“We were and still are very close friends,” Moore said. Moore worked his way through college, acting in commercials and in small industrial films.  After kick-starting his career at Harvard-Westlake helping acting teacher Ted Walch in summer intensive workshops, he began working full-time shortly after.  He was appointed director of the theater program two years ago, after almost nine years as a theater teacher.

Moore has worked alongside Walch since the beginning, and to this day, still considers him to be his teacher.  

During his first few years, Moore continued working on a regular basis. As time went on he found that it was hard to balance the tight schedules of the acting business with his classes. Moore passionately declares that his first priority is his students and now only works outside of school once in a while.  In a true example of dedication, Moore can boast working a full-time acting job for 31 days and only missing one day of school.  Moore believes that his experience as an actor helps students to relate.

“It’s nicer for kids to see that their acting teacher does what he preaches,” he said.

Recently Moore has had guest roles on television shows, such as “Desperate Housewives” and “NCIS.”

“I miss acting, particularly for the stage, but I try and keep my hand in the game doing the occasional show and of course always being the perpetual ‘student of theater.’”

Moore has spent close to 40 years with theater, as an actor, producer and director. The only thing he hasn’t tried is writing.

“I don’t have the discipline for it,” he said.

Despite his personal impatience with the writing process, Moore thoroughly enjoys reading the plays that students have written.  His favorite part of the playwright festival process is seeing the products of student imagination come to life.

“It is funny because there really is no such thing as a ‘full-time actor.’ As an actor you are always searching and often struggling for the next job and then the next job after that. Being a teacher at H-W has allowed me to never have to do another acting job to just pay the rent,” Moore said.

Moore genuinely adores being a teacher, even if it does take him away from the stage.

“I used to call myself an actor who teaches, now I proudly call myself a teacher who sometimes gets to practice what he teaches.”