Campus News - April 23, 2001

Paul FordFord discovers destiny in art

By Brian Lucero

Many search their entire lives for their destiny. For others, destiny searches for them. For Paul Ford, a theatre professor at UNM, destiny not only searched for him, it found him.

“It was at the end of my junior year of high school between classes that I realized that I had different options that I never allowed myself to look at before,” says Ford, with that, he sat down and missed his next three classes to think about a new direction. “When I got up,” he says, “I knew I was going to be doing theatre for the rest of my life.”

Since then, Ford has been acting and directing professionally in theatres all around the country.

He describes his life in theater as fulfilling. “It’s been continually thrilling and rewarding,” he says. “Although I wish that my retirement fund was larger, I would not want to live my life any differently.”

In order to create a more stable lifestyle for his family, Ford settled in Sacramento, Calif. There he was able to pursue his interests in teaching. He began to build theatre programs for local private schools, community centers and theatre organizations. Eventually, his teaching brought him to New Mexico; teaching in the former New Mexico Repertory Theatre and in the fall of 1989 he came to work at UNM.

Ford continues to teach because he loves the idea that he could have a long-term investment in others in a somewhat transient business. “Working in theatre you have a good time, but you're always starting over again. There is no sense of accumulation,” he says. “As a teacher, you make an investment of time and energy in somebody and you get to watch the growth. You can actually see that growth pay off in different areas of their lives.”

It doesn’t matter to Ford if his pupils don’t continue to pursue a career in theatre as long as he helped them become sensitized to themselves and their surroundings through art. “We live in a society that encourages us to lose our senses, to not be able to touch, feel, hear or taste our connection to a real world. Art calls upon us to become sensitive to those things,” he says. “Which means we are in contact with our environment and our community in a important way.”

Ford continues to fulfill his destiny everyday of his life. In many ways his destiny is associated with helping other find theirs. Besides teaching at UNM, Ford is also an artistic director with Theatre-in-the-Making, a local youth group theatre company.
The group will perform “Grim” at the Riverside Theatre on April 25 and 26 at 10:30 p.m. (visit www.Theatre-in-the-making). Ford is also staring in “Betrayal” at the Riverside theatre on the weekends of April 13 through May 6.

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