An Actor’s viewpoint: Curtis M. Jackson

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Curtis M. Jackson

Co-Founder and Member of Silent Theatre Company, Curtis has appeared in Noir, A Charlie Chaplin Christmas (Artist of Excellence Award) and the national tour of Lulu A Silent Black & White Play(New York Fringe Best Play Award). Carter’s Way, A Separate Peace and Superior Donuts(Steppenwolf Theatre), School Night (Ensemble Studio Theatre), US premiere of Harper Regan (Steep Theatre), Elmina’s Kitchen(Congo Square), and Letters Home (Griffin Theatre). Film/TV: “Live Your Best Life” (opposite Oprah Winfrey, Bette Midler, Mary J. Blige, and Jennifer Hudson), “MadMen Season Premiere in Times Square,” “The Walking Dead,” and “Soundstage” (with BB King and SEAL). A native of Milwaukee with a BA from Columbia College Chicago, Curtis recently became a finalist for Pop Up Pittsburgh’s Storefront Installation, co-produced and co-stared in Lulu andDutchman at PPU. He is currently an MFA Graduate Fellow and Adjunct Faculty at Point Park University.

Q -This is your first Quantum show. How is the experience of working our “Stage” so far?

Jackson – I’d have to say, one’s first Quantum show would be their first experience with a Quantum production. “The End of the Affair,” a Quantum show from last season, was my first. I wasn’t an actor in the show, but as an audience member, that feeling of being a part of the Quantum experience left long lasting impression. “The Golden Dragon” is my first Quantum show as an actor and the experience has been amazing. I’ve rehearsed and performed in classrooms, parking lots, a gutted out school bus, canyons, street corners, Times Square, subway trains, church basements and my mother’s living room, but I’ve never started rehearsing on our performance “Stage” on day one. I’ve never worked on a site-specific stage or in the middle of a tiny lake in the park. It’s been a delightful experience to be outdoors, in the heat, surrounded by nature, on floating platforms with a beautiful set being built around us. Also, the experience of working while being interrupted by people passing by, interrupted by loud music in the pubic park or children laughing hysterically at the public pool hasn’t been a challenge as much as a positive chance to connect to with people who may have never taken an interest in theater before.

Q – What drew you most to The Golden Dragon’s script?

Jackson -There are so many things that I just don’t understand. This script in particular is full of wonderful images, beautiful speeches and interesting characters. But after reading the script so many times, there are still things about it that I just don’t understand. I’m drawn to the possibilities of telling any story one thousand different ways. With “The Golden Dragon,” the script has everything a play needs to tell a story, but how to tell the detailed, complex, intertwining and sometimes whimsical story is where I find the challenge. It’s challenging. Not only in learning Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese food orders, but how to make sense of how we are going to tell this script to the audience keeps us working hard.

Q – Do you have any favorite or particularly challenging moments from the play?

Jackson – I think my favorite moments in the play have been where I become an audience member! It’s true, I admit to sometimes becoming so lost in what the other actors are doing that I literally check out and forget I’m onstage with them. Those moments where something so beautiful is happening right in front of your eyes and you literally feel as if it would be wrong to not just watch and listen. Specifically, there’s my favorite speech spoken by The Man Over Sixty (played by Mark Conway Thompson) about Inga and Eva’s beautiful flight as Flight Attendants. I get wonderfully lost in that speech every time Mark speaks it.

“…they talk about nightfall over the clouds, the end of the day torn and stretched apart, strange and long, and they talk about the sunrise when flying East, they talk about daybreak over the Clouds, red and unreal, a sunrise which the plane is flying into, a dawn torn, squeezed and crushed and still how beautiful it is.”

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