5 Questions with Evan Jones

Evan Jones is a true believer. He has seen the power and the glory of theater on stage and wants everyone to experience its healing and redemptive mercies. I first met Evan when I was a guest artist playing the Magwitch character in an adaptation of “Great Expectations” by Chad Larabee at UAlbany in 2012. Evan was a student, and while working on the show, I discovered that he was producing himself in Eugene O’Neill’s nearly one-man show “Hughie.” After attending, I could not get over the ambition and determination behind the project at UAlbany Drama.

Evan is a native of the Capital Region and was soon working in the community post-graduation both for his day job and with the many opportunities provided by Capital Region Theater. He is one of the true blessings of the fantastic college theater programs in our area, a bright, ambitious college student who stayed and greatly enriched the community they lived and studied in.

Evan was soon working as much as he wanted to and quickly made a plan and purpose to work in nearly every theater in the area on shows that challenged and enriched him as a theater artist. He’s acted and directed at Albany Civic Theater, Confetti Stage Inc., Creative License, Curtain Call Theatre, Home Made Theatre, Schenectady Civic Players, and Theater Voices, among others.

Best of all, Evan believes that you are only as good as you give and shows up for a great many of his colleague’s efforts throughout the Capital Region. We are lucky to have him contributing to the stages around us, and I am very much looking forward to his production of “Buried Child” opening this weekend at ACT, where he had such a triumphant season last year starring in “How I Learned to Drive” and “American Buffalo.”

PW: What does “Buried Child” say to you, and why did you want to do it now at ACT?

EJ: “Buried Child” represents the disintegration of the “American Dream”. Each of the members of the family in “Buried Child” is in some way a representation of a failed attempt at achieving different parts of the “American Dream” -prosperity, freedom, family, and happiness. And for me, as a childless millennial, the American Dream in 2023 is just survival (which this family is struggling with). And I wanted to direct it at ACT because of how intimate a space it is. The front row is nearly on the stage. And this play can be intense at times, and that feeling is something you can’t achieve at other local venues.

PW: What have you discovered in rehearsal that’s excited you about the play and its performance?

EJ: My biggest strength as a director is working with my actors to hone their performances. My favorite discoveries have been the ones the actors make in the moment during a scene, and this cast has impressed me to no end. The work that the actors have done in a relatively short time has been incredible. Their fearlessness and vulnerability have really made Shepard’s words come to life. This is a difficult play, but they all have made it work marvelously.

PW: What do you love about ACT, and can you talk a little bit about your tenure there?

EJ: I love ACT because they consistently choose interesting material. As I said before, the intimate nature of ACT’s space allows more interesting work to sink into an audience a little better than other bigger venues can. Theater that’s “in your face” will stick with you well after the curtain falls if done right. ACT was also one of the first companies I worked with when I joined the community after college. I was cast in “All My Sons” in 2014. It was a small role, but I met some amazing friends who continued to open more and more doors for me. Since then, I’ve appeared in or directed half a dozen main stage shows and multiple showcases. I joined the board a few years ago, became Artistic Director, and finally President, which I currently sit. And it’s been my goal to produce theater that I would want to see. I want to present interesting theater that engages audiences.

PW: What do you think is the greatest strength of Capital Region Theater, and where are the opportunities for growth?

EJ: The greatest strength of Capital Region Theater is the community. Go to any play on any given weekend, and you will run into dozens of community members supporting their peers. The same people will then spread the word about the show that they just saw, even if they aren’t part of the production. I think the biggest opportunity for growth is more collaboration between companies. Last season, ACT teamed with Harbinger for “The Motherf**ker with The Hat,” and it was very beneficial for both companies. Aside from co-producing, ACT has made a point over the last year to also promote other shows throughout the region. We frequently promote SLOC and SCP productions on our social media. We aren’t in competition with anyone. We want to raise all boats.

PW: What is the play that changed your life, and how?

EJ: I’ll cheat and answer this a couple of different ways. The first play I read that opened my eyes to the majesty of plays was “American Buffalo” (which I got to perform this past May at ACT). I met a lot of great people who became better friends during my time working on “Clybourne Park” at SCP. And “Seascape” proved to me that I could direct. There are several other plays I could mention, but those are on the top of my mind.

“Buried Child” runs through 9/24 at Albany Civic Theater. Tickets: www.albanycivictheater.org or 518-462-1297

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