National Theater Institute
Click Here for More Articles on National Theater Institute

BWW TV Exclusive: NTI Changed My Life - Josh Radnor

The National Theater Institute includes a vibrant community of over 3,500 alumni. The many talents of these actors, writers, directors, and designers can be seen on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in films, television, London's West End, and at every major regional theater in the U.S. Actor, writer, director, Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother, Happythankyoumoreplease, Liberal Arts, The Graduate) is currently starring in Disgraced on Broadway. Today Risk Again! shares his reflections on studying with NTI in the spring of 1995. Watch the video to hear more about his memories of training at the O'Neill, his play Napoleon Blownapart, and the many ways NTI changed his life as an artist.

Scroll to the very bottom (past the photos!) to watch "Thanks to the O'Neill," Josh Radnor in conversation with long-time NTI Playwriting instructor Donna Di Novelli and Artistic Director and alum Rachel Jett at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center as part of Launchpad of the American Theater: The O'Neill Since 1964.

Josh Radnor attended NTI as a student of Kenyon College. The 14-week, credit-earning 'semester away' provided him with intensive theater training in acting, playwriting, directing, voice, movement, and design. "At NTI, it was so exhilarating for me to just be absolutely drowning in too much to do. Too much theater. That was the dream for me. No matter what, I just wanted to do theater." He describes NTI as "three months, shot out of a cannon, non-stop." "I didn't want to leave." "Because of NTI, I went back to college and felt like I was doing professional work in a college environment. My game was so raised by being at NTI and it was noticeable. I got back and I was alive and hungry to do great work." "It just grew me up in some profound way." "After NTI theater became my life. This is who I am and what I want to do." "I can't believe I'm still doing this. That I'm still doing plays and making art."

In the spring of 1995 Richard Digby-Day was the director of NTI; current NTI Artistic Director was his classmate; and his playwriting instructor was writer, librettist, and lyricist Donna Di Novelli, someone he has long credited with helping give rise to his voice as a writer. "I remember everything. I remember [Donna] being so supportive of my writing. I went back my senior year feeling more like a writer than I ever had because I got that encouragement." Since that time, he has written two feature films and teased that a play is in the works.

Like all NTI students, he is hungry for knowledge, skills, and training in every part of the theatrical process-writing, acting, design, directing, and producing original work. "The thing about being an actor is you are always having to ask for permission from someone to do it. And that's what drove me crazy and what continues to drive me crazy about it and that's why I started writing and directing because, if you can, it's insane that you wouldn't."

Twenty years ago he was a student at the O'Neill. At NTI, "I learned how professionals behaved. I had a language of the theater." In a few weeks NTI's Fall 2014 ensemble will travel to New York to see him on Broadway in Disgraced. About his role in Ayad Akhtar's 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, he says theater called him back. "It's an amazing play." "I want to work on new work that is speaking to our moment right now." "I know that I feel the most alive as an actor in the theater."

Next week: The O'Neill develops new work and new artists. Explore the rich relationship between the National Theater Institute and the National Playwrights Conference with Deb Laufer and Meg Miroshnik.

To learn more and apply, visit and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@NTIRiskFailRisk). Still time to apply for the spring 2015 semester! The application deadline for fall 2015 semester is March 20. Early applications are encouraged.

high res photos

BWW TV Exclusive: NTI Changed My Life - Josh Radnor
NTI Ensemble, Spring 1995 (Josh Radnor, back row, center)

BWW TV Exclusive: NTI Changed My Life - Josh Radnor
Josh Radnor at NTI in LE CID, Spring 1995

BWW TV Exclusive: NTI Changed My Life - Josh Radnor
Donna Di Novelli, Josh Radnor, and Rachel Jett in discussion at "Launchpad of American Theater: The O'Neill Since 1964"

BWW TV Exclusive: NTI Changed My Life - Josh Radnor
Actor, writer and director Josh Radnor (NTI Spring '95)

Related Articles

From This Author National Theater Institute

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram