degree in aerospace engineering from Purdue, and is a retired Navy commander, having served
in the Persian Gulf after the first Gulf War. Silk teaches math at The Harker School, where he is
also the Upper School Mathematics Department Chair.
He has previously worked as a software developer and project manager, Southwest
Airlines ground agent, sales associate for Williams-Sonoma and social host for Carnival Cruise
Lines. And he wrote for this publication for a time, serving as the Palo Alto Weekly's food writer
around 2002-2003. Now, in a way, he can add "friend of one of the world's most famous
playwrights" to the list.
Silk is playing John Heminges, one of William Shakespeare's friends and fellow actors, in
Lauren Gunderson's comedy "The Book of Will"; presented by Foothill Theatre Arts. The play
runs through Nov. 21 in person at Foothill College's Lohman Theatre.
The role reflects another facet of Silk's wide-ranging interests: a lifelong love of theater. "I have
always been an actor for fun. I've done stuff since elementary school. I acted in junior high, in
high school and in college. And even when I was in the Navy, when I was overseas, I would find
productions that I could do," Silk said. "Always community theater — I never wanted to be professional. I just enjoy it. I enjoy the whole process of it."
His work on the stage and his profession complement each other. Silk said that in rehearsals,
the process of refining an effort and trying again when something doesn't work brings him useful
insight as a teacher into what students go through learning something new. And he said, the
experience also helps him better connect with students.
"The Book of Will" knows something about revising as well. The play tells of the creation of an
anthology of Shakespeare's work, now known as the First Folio, by the members of the King's
Men, the theater troupe with which Shakespeare worked. After the playwright's death, the actors
collect and publish his plays, which were at risk of being corrupted or lost.
"Just the idea that those plays almost were lost to time was eye-opening,"Silk said.
Though "The Book of Will" is inspired by real circumstances, Gunderson takes some artistic
license. But even the fictionalized characterization of Heminges is one of a man with a solid
grounding in reality.
"He is most concerned about the happiness of his wife and children, but when it comes to the
theater, he is focused on making sure that we have a good production. So he wants to make
sure that the theater runs, that people are employed, people are going to see the shows. He's
the manager and he takes that very seriously," Silk said.
There's a lot of give and take between Heminges and fellow troupe member Henry Condell
(Michael Rhone), who's pushing hardest to complete the folio.
"Henry's passionate about this and he's thinking as an actor and as just a theater person. So it's
an interesting contrast."
Silk said that he can relate to Heminges' position in his real-life role as a department chair who
has to mind the finances.
But he also clearly understands Condell's passion. "The Book of Will" not only celebrates the art
that a group of dedicated actors saved 400 years ago, but also highlights the joy of what
audiences are rediscovering now, as in-person performances are returning, he said.
"I think that theater is precious, especially now, today, where we lost live theater for 18 months.
Zoom theater was a nice substitute but not quite the same. And I hope people walk away
thinking not just about how much goes into theater, but how much we as an audience get out of
theater — how much it affects us, how much it can inspire us, or delight us or make us
rethink things," Silk said.
Foothill Theatre Arts presents "The Book of Will" through Nov. 21 in person at
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. Tickets are $15-$25. For more information, visit