Friday, October 22, 2010

On Stage: Gordon Student Taylor Jones ’12 Selected for National Theater Institute

Actors such as Jennifer Garner and John Krasinski got their start by studying at the National Theater Institute (NTI) at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. Now add to that list Taylor Jones, Hamilton resident and Gordon College theatre arts junior, who was recently selected for the same program.

Over 300 students from top colleges across the country applied to the prestigious training program. Founded in 1970 to train young theatre artists, the semester-long program offers an intensive, fully accredited curriculum taught by professional actors from around the world. Only 30 students were chosen for the fall 2010 semester—which began in late September—and Jones is the first student to attend from Gordon College.

“My audition—which included a prepared monologue and some improv—was an hour-long video chat on Skype,” Jones said in a telephone interview the day before he left. “It was pretty intense. And that was after I’d sent in forms, a paper I’d written on my artistic statement, a professional head shot, references from my professors and my resume. It was a lot of work, but I’m excited.”

The program requires Jones to participate in daily classes from 7:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week for 14 weeks. The students take courses in acting, directing, playwriting, design and movement and voice. They also work with various theatre companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, where they’ll spend two weeks, and will travel frequently to New York City for backstage tours and lectures.

“It’s like two years of professional training crammed into one semester,” Jones said. “I know I’ll expand as an artist in every way. In an immersion program like this I think I’ll be able to get my bearings and discover what I’m good at in theatre.”

While studying at Gordon College under the scholarship of Jeffrey S. Miller, professor of theatre arts, and Norman Jones, associate professor of theatre arts (and Taylor’s father), Jones said he felt well prepared to dive into the NTI program. He has also performed in Gordon productions of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Our Town, The Complete History of America Abridged and many short student-directed productions.

“I freaked out when I found out I’d been accepted to the NTI,” Jones said. “It’s a great opportunity, and it happened in many ways because of the support I’ve received in Gordon’s theatre community. This is something I’ll come back to throughout my career.”

Jones’ semester at the National Theater Institute ends with a final production at the Waterford campus on December 17, which also happens to be his birthday.

“There will be a lot of things to celebrate then,” he said.

(This story also appeared in the Hamilton Wenham Chronicle on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010.)

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