Michael Patrick Thornton

Co-founder & artistic director of The Gift Theatre, Michael was recently seen as Judge Danforth in Steppenwolf’s The Crucible, as King Richard in The Gift’s Richard III at Steppenwolf, and in fellow Gift ensemble member Will Eno’s Title And Deed (Lookingglass) directed by Gift ensemble member Marti Lyons which led to a Time Out Magazine “Best Actor” award. Michael was also seen in the nationally acclaimed rolling premiere of fellow Gift ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker’s Colossal at The Kennedy Center, Playwrights Horizons, and the Olney Theatre directed by Will Davis, Othello at The Gift Theatre (Iago) Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Our Town, and the Midwest Premiere of Will Eno’s Middletown at Steppenwolf, directed by Les Waters.

Directing credits at The Gift: world premiere of Gift ensemble member David Rabe’s Good For Otto (Jeff Nomination: Director) world premiere of Claire Kiechel’s Pilgrims (co-directed with Jessica Thebus) 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 nominated for a Best Actor Jeff Award (Suicide, Incorporated) Best Director Jeff Award (Good For Otto) and also played 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 has taught at Second City, the School at Steppenwolf, Acting Studio Chicago, Black Box, Columbia College, DePaul, and Northwestern University. He regularly improvises with Natural Gas, with Susan Messing in Messing With A Friend and in Thornton & Messing (at Steppenwolf and at Annoyance thru TBS Just For Laughs Festival). His two-person, critically-acclaimed conceptual improv show You & Me is now in its fourth year and has played at Steppenwolf, Second City, The Den, and Actors Theatre of Louisville where Artistic Director Les Waters called the show “Hilarious, horrifying, and human. Quite magical, really” and the Chicago Reader called it “masterful.” Recent guests have included Michael Shannon, Amy Morton, Tracy Letts, David Pasquesi, and the Grammy-nominated Spektral Quartet.

As a writer, Michael’s plays have been workshopped in New York through Young Playwrights, Inc. and in Chicago through Second City and American Theatre Company. His play The Princess And The Bear was performed at Western Michigan University and published along with his creative non-fiction in Third Coast Press and The Packingtown Review. His play Lie With Me received a workshop through ATC’s CORE residency and was semi-finalist in American Blues Blue Ink Award. Michael attended The University of Iowa, is a staff writer for “The Paper Machete” and is writing a novel series called A Low Hum.

Awards/distinctions: Best Actor: 2017 Midwest International Film Festival (The View From Tall) 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.

TV/Film: Counterpart, The Red Line, Elementary, The Exorcist, The Chicago Code, Jeri’s Grill, Unknown Unknown, The Jamz, and Liquors. Michael played Dr. Gabriel Fife on ABC’s Private Practice and appeared in Ron Howard’s The Dilemma and the indie film The View From Tall. He lives blissfully in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife, the performance artist Lindsey Barlag Thornton.