By Jason Allen-Forrest, Assistant to the Chair
When Melia Bensussen and Rob Orchard met to discuss commissioning local playwrights for a short play festival as part of the Paramount’s opening weekend festivities, I knew that something exciting was happening. Even more exciting was the knowledge that I was going to help organize the initial events for the playwrights.
Getting to meet with these talented artists, was one of the highlights of my own theatrical journey. Chatting with them at the initial event, working with them on research for their pieces, helping to connect them to the directors all conspired to make a busy and exciting summer.
An even greater thrill was the opportunity to be in one of the pieces! I was lucky enough to be working on a piece that allowed me the opportunity to watch and learn from five extraordinary women.
My piece was Jack Neary’s Casting Amanda and I had the joy of watching director, Kristen van Ginhoven (Emerson Alum and Adjunct Faculty) and Stage Manager, Marissa Robinson (Emerson Undergrad) move us through rehearsals and guiding the creation of our little family.
It was a hoot working on this riotous piece and a master class getting to watch Faculty members Amelia Broome and Kathleen Donohue and Undergrad Lindsey Hamby-Real create their characters and play with each other to bring this delightful play to life. I felt truly blessed being part of this talented group.
I had no idea that my blessings were soon to increase. As we drew closer to the opening weekend, I ended up being cast in two additional pieces. John AEkoje’s Auditioning for Mary (directed by Staff member SiouxSanna Ramirez-Cruz) and Larry Coen’s 9 Circles of the Inferno (directed by Faculty member Maureen Shea). I was now popping up in 3 Pop-Ups.
It was a gloriously busy week of rehearsals, technical rehearsals and performances. I had the pleasure of working with my amazing colleagues, the talented students (both on and back stage), the folks in ArtsEmerson and the joy of the community’s response to this wonderful event.
I am truly grateful that I have a job that I enjoy. I mean, where else would I get the opportunity to perform and be intimately involved with the production of a short play festival in a newly renovated theatrical institution?! I’m blessed everyday that I have a job that allows me the opportunity to learn and grow as an artist. Working in the Performing Arts Department at Emerson is truly the best job ever!