Instructor Profile – John Warriner – Osher Lifelong Institute

John Warriner

John Warriner

John Warriner holds a Ph.D. from Texas Tech and is a member of SAG-AFTRA (the union for film and television actors) and Actors’ Equity (the union for theater actors). The former chair of Musical Theatre at Santa Clara University, he has taught acting for the camera classes at Southwestern College for the past eight years. Professional directing credits include Floyd Collins in Dallas and La Nona in San Jose. Local professional acting credits include Macbeth at La Jolla Playhouse, La Pastorela  at the Old Globe Theatre, and a radio-drama version of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Why do you like teaching for Osher?
I believe all teaching comes down to engagement. Finding ways to connect individually with each student, as well as having students who enjoy wrestling with a question as much as answering it. Further, teaching for me is really all about the PROCESS … letting the discoveries evolve with an immediacy and excitement that isn’t predetermined. I find the students at Osher to be a highly receptive, intelligent group of individuals – genuinely interested in the context of the class. Teaching at Osher keeps me engaged and invested and truly expands my horizons in a fantastic way.

Which subjects do you teach at Osher and why?
Being fortunate to hold a Ph.D. in fine arts, the scope of subjects I teach at Osher covers a wide gamut of topics, from theater and film to literature and other aspects of the arts. This fall, I’ll be teaching a six-week course on The Allure of the Ageless Movie Star as well as three additional courses in the newly established Film & Performing Arts Club. This is a wonderful new venue that will allow students to immerse themselves in a wide-range of subjects, including such film icons as Paul Newman, Bob Fosse, and Federico Fellini, as well as a locally produced, Broadway-bound musical.

Can you share a few fun anecdotes about why Osher students are wonderful to teach?
One anecdote actually relates to the terrific relationship I have with my mother, who is a sounding-board for course ideas. She is an amazing 94-year-old woman with whom I’m fortunate to share a great many ideas and interests and who really helps me relate to the thinking of an older adult. She came up with a fantastic course idea examining the The History of Cross-Dressing in Film, which proved to be one of my favorite classes, and she continues to be quite an inspiration to me and truly represents the Osher student spirit.

Another anecdote relates to a wonderful student from that very course on cross-dressing, who wasn’t shown films at a young age, and who was appreciative to have the opportunity to explore the wonders of film later in life. At the end of the course, she presented me with a wonderful book that inspired me to develop the upcoming course on the Allure of the Ageless Movie Star. So you see, the process is truly cyclical.

What are the top reasons why students should take an Osher course?
The Top 10 Reasons for Taking an Osher Class Are:

10. No grades.
9. Great way to socialize that isn’t necessarily on the Internet.
8. Excellent way to learn more about a subject that interests you.
7. Your instructors might make you laugh.
6. The final parties are a blast.
5. Did I mention no grades?
4. Expanding the mind in an open, relaxed environment.
3. Being allowed to express one’s opinions freely.
2. Engagement, engagement, engagement.
1. Finding out more about what it means to be human.

How has teaching Osher students inspired you personally?
I am continually inspired by my Osher students – by their zest for learning, their ability to persevere, and certainly their joie de vivre, all things I try to strive for in my own life. I found my last Osher class on Movies That Soothe the Soul a particularly personal journey. It was a decidedly subjective course, as the title might imply, and I was truly inspired not only by the way in which the students in that course allowed me to share with them a topic so close to my heart, but also the manner in which they kindly showed their appreciation and opened up their experience as well. This is the very sort of inspiration I’m fortunate to receive each and every time I have the opportunity to engage with an Osher class. I’m very fortunate indeed.