By Amanda Stoll / Photography by Craig Stocks
It’s not necessarily about playing the most roles, or directing the most productions; for Chip Joyce it’s about doing those few special ones that make his “hit list.”
Chip, 31, grew up in Peoria, graduated from Woodruff High School, and didn’t leave home for long before he was back in town. He studied film at Columbia College in Chicago for two and a half years before transferring to Illinois State University in Bloomington. He commuted there from Peoria and studied theatre with a concentration in cinema studies.
“I’ve basically lived here my whole life. I like it,” said Chip, whose parents still live in town. He also has a sister in the MFA graduate program at Johns Hopkins University.
For the last year, Chip has been working at Cumulus Radio in Peoria as an account representative in sales and advertising. “You have to be a great people person for the job, and I think my theatre abilities are what really help me with it. With acting, obviously, it’s being comfortable with other people one-on-one, and I always have been.”
At nine years old, Chip was in his first show, “A Christmas Carol.” Soon afterward he preformed in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was his first show at Corn Stock Theatre.
“I grew up preforming, and I always wanted to be a director,” said Chip. “I kind of had to wait around until I was old enough. I started directing and have been kept really busy with that.”
Instead of limiting himself to one place, Chip enjoys preforming and directing at different venues in Peoria. “Every theatre provides great, excellent opportunities… You get better, well rounded experiences by going to different places,” said Chip. “Each venue has its own unique characteristics and space, and, to some degree, audiences… why not spread the love?”
Some of the most notable shows Chip has directed are “Hair” at Corn Stock Theatre and “RENT” at Eastlight Theatre.
In June, he will be directing his first horror show, “Jekyll and Hyde,” at Eastlight Theatre, and in the fall, his first non-musical stage show, “The Graduate,” at Corn Stock Theatre.
His most recent role as Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at Corn Stock Theatre was his first time being on stage in two years. He has been directing an average of two shows a year for about six years, mostly at Eastlight Theatre and Corn Stock Theatre.
A few years ago, Chip even did a one-man-show at Peoria Cabaret Theatre. “Just me playing multiple characters, doing all of them… I did a lot of speech and stuff in high school where I had to do that, so it was just old hat for me really.”
Scenic designer is yet another hat Chip wears around the theater, designing sets for other directors and some of his own shows. “I like to be a planner,” Chip said. “As soon as I know that I have a show… I love to just start thinking about it, conceptualizing… and the best way to do that is to design my own set. It’s hard to picture what the show is going to look like if you don’t have it in your mind.”
While Chip keeps himself busy in the theatre scene, he says it is good to take some time off once in a while to “recharge the creative battery. I love going to see other theatre, going to museums, reading books, and watching movies because we draw our creativity from all sorts of places.”
Always looking for new challenges in directing and acting, Chip has a “hit list” of shows and roles he wants to do. “I’ve been really fortunate,” said Chip, “a lot of the roles I’ve wanted to play through the years I’ve gotten to play… I feel like I need to start finding new things.”
Recently, Chip also had the opportunity to serve on the board of directors for Corn Stock Theatre’s Winter Playhouse. “It’s really rewarding to be able to creatively steer organizations a little bit,” he said. “When you get to have a hand in making big decisions like what shows they are going to do… that’s great as well”
Whether it’s acting, directing, or designing sets, Chip has a lot more to accomplish off of his “hit list” before he sets down his various hats.