Wayne Salomon has been named the 2011 Art Educator of the Year by the St. Louis Arts and Education Council. Salomon will be publicly recognized at the Council's 20th annual celebration on January 24 at the Chase Park Plaza. He will share the limelight with other 2011 honorees: the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Paul Reuter, executive director of the Sheldon Concert Hall and Galleries; corporate supporter of the arts Wells Fargo Advisors; philanthropist Christian Peper; singer Mae Wheeler and champion for the literary arts Karen Duffy.
Salomon's award is the preeminent honor of individuals who have achieved a legacy of artistic excellence. But legacy is a small word to describe Salomon's achievements — at Burroughs and in professional theatre.
He has been chair of the Theatre Department at Burroughs for the past 23 years and teaches speech, debate and acting as well as an honors English seminar. Beyond the classroom, he annually directs a fall and spring play, a winter musical and a winter dance concert. To date, he has directed 70 plays/musicals and produced 21 dance shows. He is also the faculty co-sponsor of the Student Court.
Every student who attends Burroughs has spent time with Salomon — whether in required speech, debate or acting classes in 7th and 8th grades or, later, in elective theatre courses or theatrical productions. All of Salomon's auditions are open. He expects theatre students to participate, but he is thrilled when the three-season athlete takes a season off to perform in the musical — and that happens often.
While maintaining a strong and successful presence in the professional world of acting and directing, Salomon has not been lured from teaching. He continues to teach as a choice. And his commitment to his students extends well beyond Burroughs. Salomon remains, for many, a steady and ongoing source of support and counsel.
His mantra is Samuel Beckett’s Try again. Fail again. Fail better. This is recalled by his students — from a freshman at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts to a working New York stage actor to an editor of Glee to the lead actor in Mad Men. Wayne isn’t interested in perfection, per se, but rather in encouraging and supporting each individual to work toward his or her limit, rewarding students for taking risks and putting themselves on the line.
As a Burroughs alum who is now a senior at Yale said, “Countless brilliant teachers have patiently taught me how to think, how to construct careful arguments, how to pick through the nuances in great works of literature and philosophy and mathematics. I am deeply grateful to all of these people. But I reserve a special kind of gratitude for the man who gave me something totally different — a set of skills without which my liberal arts education would be rendered useless. Mr. Salomon put this brainy kid on stage and got him to stand up straight, to speak loud and clear, and to know for sure what he wants and needs from what he's doing. That was no small task. There's no teacher quite like him.”
Burroughs seeks faculty who are professionally active in their chosen fields. Wayne’s involvement, as actor and director, in the St. Louis theatre community serves as a model and inspiration to his students and as exemplary credentials for parents and colleagues.
His extensive credits as a professional director include The Taming Of The Shrew, All Over Town, Catch 22,Hamlet, The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, Orphans, Loving Leah, The Mousetrap, Bleacher Bums, Much Ado About Nothing, The House of Blue Leaves, Baby with the Bathwater, Murder by the Book, Noises Off, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Barefoot In the Park, A Flea in Her Ear, The Fantastiks,Guys and Dolls, The Rainmaker, The Good Doctor, The 1940s Radio Hour, South Pacific, Man of LaMancha,Cottonpatch Gospel, The Real Thing, Hellcab and Frankie and Johnnie in the ClairDe Lune, for which he received a Kevin Kline nomination as best director.
Wayne has also, been a working actor in St. Louis since 1972 and a member of Actor's Equity Association since 1978. Over the past 30 years he has been seen professionally at the MUNY, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Theatre Project Company, The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, Off The Cuff, The New Theatre, Theatre Factory and the Arrowrock Lyceum Theatre. His favorite roles include Charlie Fox in Speed The Plow, Lenny Bruce in Lenny, Robert in Betrayal, Donny Dubrow in American Buffalo, Dave Moss inGlengarry Glen Ross, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Vladamir, Estragon, and Lucky in Waiting for Godot, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, and Lt. Shrank in West Side Story, which earned him a Kevin Kline award as part of the best ensemble cast.