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Joe Van Slyke in Mrs. Warren's Profession, Aren't We All?, and Money

Joe Van Slyke


On Monday August 13, 2007, our friend and Artistic Associate Joe Van Slyke passed away at home after a 17 month battle with cancer. He was 55.

Joe was a beloved member of both the Remy Bumppo family and the entire Chicago theater community and is greatly missed.

A veteran actor, Joe continued acting virtually non-stop on the Chicago stages throughout his illness, playing roles in Denmark at Victory Gardens Theater, Ten Little Indians at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Mrs. Warren's Profession here at Remy Bumppo, and a musical workshop of Dangerous Beauty at Northwestern University. Fellow actor and friend Don Brearley said, "acting was Joe's legacy and his incentive to keep going this past year."

Artistic Director James Bohnen said, "Joe had a very mysterious process. It was fascinating to drop an idea in his head and wait to see what happened. He was both remarkably tender and flinty, a unique combination of gifts that made him interesting to watch all of the time. He rose up to the challenge of complicated parts and performed with scrupulousness and surprise. He could scare the daylights out of you in a role like Hirst [in Pinter's No Man's Land]."

An Artistic Associate since 2005, Joe performed with Remy Bumppo in eight productions, including Hapgood, No Man's Land (for which he received a Jeff nomination for Best Performance), Holiday, Money, A Delicate Balance, Humble Boy, Aren't We All and Mrs. Warren's Profession.

Windy City Times and Chicago Public Radio Theater Critic Jonathan Abarbanel cited Joe in his 2005 review of Aren't We All as "an absolute master of the dry reposte and the wry crack that are the soul of throw-away (technique)."

A Chicago-based member of Actors Equity Association for nearly 30 years, he earned his Equity card in 1978 at the Illinois Theatre Center playing Sherlock Holmes. He appeared at such theatres as Briar Street, Chicago Shakespeare, Court, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Goodman, Marriott, Northlight, Northwestern University, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and Wisdom Bridge among others.

Those wishing to make a donation in Joe's name are encouraged to donate to The Actors Fund or The American Cancer Society.

Read the eulogy presented at Joe's memorial service.
View a selection of pictures from Joe's career.
Read an interview with Joe from December 2005.