Michael Patrick Thornton
Artistic director & co-founder of The Gift Theatre, Michael was most recently seen at Lookingglass in fellow Gift ensemble member Will Eno's Title And Deed, directed by Gift ensemble member Marti Lyons. Michael also was in the critically-acclaimed, Hayes Award Winning inaugural rolling premiere of ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker's Colossal at Olney Theatre. Other recent credits: Iago in Othello at The Gift Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville's American Theatre Magazine renowned production of Our Town directed by Les Waters, and onstage at The Gift in the world premiere of Hinderaker's Jeff-Nominated Dirty. Previous stage credits: U.S. Premiere of Absolute Hell at The Gift Theatre directed by fellow Gift ensemble member Sheldon Patinkin and the Midwest Premiere of Will Eno's Middletown at Steppenwolf, directed by Les Waters.
Directing credits at The Gift: War of the Worlds (75th Anniversary Production), the Chicago Premiere of Will Eno's Oh, The Humanity (and other exclamations) Prairie View, Night & Her Stars, Stop/Kiss; Santa's Great American Depression Holiday Show! America; White People; Three Sisters; Long Day's Journey Into Night; Hurlyburly (Joseph Jefferson Award: Actor In Leading Role); A Young Man In Pieces; Language Of Angels; County Fair; and Orestes 2.0. Elsewhere: Of Mice and Men (Steppenwolf) the World Premieres of Sean Graney's IS N UR B1UDS7REEM... and Mark Harvey Levine's LA 8AM (Collaboraction) and Picasso At The Lapin Agile (Noble Fool).
Michael was a very grateful assistant director on Steppenwolf's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County.
A Joseph Jefferson Award-winning actor for Solo Performance in Conor McPherson's The Good Thief (The Gift) Michael was honored with a Jeff Nomination for his performance in The Gift's World Premiere of ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker's Suicide, Incorporated. Other acting at The Gift: Will Eno's Brief Study of an Endless Thing and David Rabe's It's Just The Moon (TEN: 2013, 2012) The Ruby Sunrise, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, The Good Thief,and Boys' Life. Elsewhere: Colossal (Kennedy Center/UT-Austin Cohen Fest) Cherry Docs (Next, directed by Kate Buckley) A Skull in Connemara (Northlight-After Dark Award, directed by B.J. Jones) The Day Maggie Blew Off Her Head (Serendipity) Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Ivanhoe) Flanagan's Wake! (Noble Fool) Zoo Story and the title role in Steppenwolf's The Elephant Man.
A graduate of The School at Steppenwolf, The Second City Conservatory, and The Second City Directing Program, Michael trained at the iO Improv Program, under Mick Napier at Annoyance Theatre, and occasionally teaches at Second City, Acting Studio Chicago, Black Box, and Columbia College. He regularly improvises with Natural Gas, with Susan Messing in Messing With A Friend / Thornton & Messing (seen at Steppenwolf and at The Annoyance thru the TBS Just For Laughs Festival).
Thornton and Messing also both run the improv program at The School at Steppenwolf.
His two-person improv sets include: with Kyle Zornes in Thornes, Kirby O'Connell in Mike And Kirby: No Suggestioms, Please, and Jillian Burfete in Thornton & Burfete at The Second City. Michael's "Reader-Recommended" two person improv show You & Me was most recently seen at Actors Theatre of Louisville and enjoys an open run at Chicago's Den Theatre. Actors Theatre of Louisville Artistic Director Les Waters calls the show "Hilarious, horrifying, and human. Quite magical, really."
As a writer, Michael's plays have been workshopped in New York through Young Playwrights, Inc. and in Chicago through Second City. His play The Princess And The Bear was performed at Western Michigan University and published in excerpt along with his creative non-fiction in Third Coast Press and The Packingtown Review. He is a staff writer for Chicago's live magazine salon-in-a-saloon, "The Paper Machete" and has recently completed the novel A Low Hum.
Awards/distinctions: Tree of Life Award: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; Chicago Finalist: National Shakespeare Contest (Mitzi-Newhouse Theatre; Lincoln Center) 3Arts Artist Award; Northlight Theatre's Jack Springer Award for Outstanding Performance; The Tim Meier & Helen Coburn Meier Foundation Achievement Award, The Second City Foundation's Jim Zulevic Chicago Arts Award, The Joseph Jefferson Award for Solo Performance and induction into The University of Iowa and St. Patrick High School Halls of Fame.
He lives blissfully in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife, performance artist Lindsey Barlag Thornton.
Thornton directed the world premiere of David Rabe's Good For Otto at The Gift.