Ms. Valerie O'Riordan

Contact Details


I grew up in Southern California as the youngest child of loving parents: a creative, funny mother and a strict policeman father.  At the age of 12, I knew that I wanted to work in a creative field. At 19, I defined theatre as that field, and since then all my professional pursuits have been theatrical in nature.  I began teaching acting in 1986, while continuing my work as an actor, director, producer, and freelance theatre publicist, then joined Actor's Equity Association in 1994.  I have been teaching at Riordan since 2000.

Career highlights include my thesis project, Tony Kushner's 'Angels in America' (understudy/performed), at the American Conservatory Theatre; Suzan-Lori Parks' '365 Days/365 Plays' project in 2007 with student dramaturges; the 2009 production of 'Romeo and Juliet' which married a concept I conceived in college with the designs of two drama alumni; our Season of the Greeks, after a Fund for Teachers fellowship in Athens; AND...our Salute to Shakespeare in 2016/17.

My interests include gardening, reading and travel, and a favorite quote is "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt" from 'Measure For Measure'. I live in San Francisco where my husband and I raised our (now grown) children, and I enjoy my job as Riordan's first female drama director. 

Personal Teaching Statement: The best teachers I ever had were the ones who made learning fun, and that is how I approach teaching and directing; promoting an atmosphere where students want to learn. By presenting material in an exciting and individualistic manner, I challenge students to take the work seriously, while maintaining a sense of humor about themselves. My theatre classroom is a place where students are allowed and encouraged to not only learn by doing, but by taking educated risks. Risk taking is an integral and exciting part of the creative learning process, and can help build self-esteem and define career goals.

The acting process fascinates me, and I am proud of my ability to foster spontaneity, truth and intimacy in actors. My acting curriculum is process-oriented so I can support students in developing their potential to grow as creative artists.