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When Guy Van Swearingen co-founded A Red Orchid Theater with his pal and fellow actor Michael Shannon, he couldn’t have known that 25 years later they’d still be at it, still taking on challenging and uncompromising material in that same thrillingly intimate space. There may be better known theaters in Chicago, but none more exciting to watch. And if the excitement of the theater isn’t enough, Guy always has another adrenaline pumping career to fall back on. For as long as the theater has existed, Guy has also been a Chicago firefighter. How he has managed to balance two such demanding jobs (more when you consider that at various times he’s also been a director, artistic director, film and television actor…) is a mystery. On this episode of the Hog Butcher Radio Hour, Guy talks about the youth he barely survived, the days on the street that the theater saved him from, living in his car with nothing but a cello and a box of old love letters, founding A Red Orchid, working with his friend Shannon, balancing life as an artist and a firefighter. He’s a no-bullshit guy who only calls us out for asking one “bullshit question” and offers some pointed advice on how “people need to get their heads out of their asses.” They don’t come much more Chicago than Guy Van Swearingen. He’s truly one of a kind.

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