Roseberry & Leslie Spitznagel in A Man of No Importance. TheatreWorks of So In.
Interview by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2020 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Dr. Jason Roseberry is the Artistic Director of TheatreWorks of Southern Indiana, where he has directed Peter & The Starcatcher, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Brighton Beach Memoirs, among others. He is an alumnus of the Actors Theatre of Louisville Acting Apprentice program, and a past director at Silver Creek High School. Jason is also a playwright and lyricist. Some of his produced plays and musicals include Burke and Hare, and E.A. Poe, Into the Mind of Madness both at (Edinburgh, Scotland Fringe Festival), The Red Room Off-Broadway, Louisville Repertory Company, (Humana Festival/Heideman Award Finalist), The Invisible Man (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville), Finders Keepers (OOB-Expanded Arts, Kitchen Sink Festival Winner), Freshman Year (Ball State University), and Romeo & Rosaline (SCHS, Indiana Thespian Festival). He is also a contributor to Arts-Louisville.com.
1. What shows were you doing/about to do when stay-at-home began?
Little Women was in the middle of opening weekend, and Big Fish was just beginning rehearsals. We are hoping to move both shows to this summer/fall when we will hopefully reopen.
2. Had you announced the next season for TheatreWorks? Do you think you will reposition canceled shows to the 2020-21 season?
Luckily, we were just getting ready to announce the next season, but nothing had been printed or publicly released. Our plan right now is to keep the shows intact, but move TheatreWorks to operate on a yearly season instead. For example, we will (hopefully) announce the 2021 season in September/October.
3. When did you know theatre would be your life?
I auditioned for Oliver! at Silver Creek High School when I was in 5th grade and sang, “You’re the Inspiration” in my best Peter Cetera falsetto. I fought it for many years after that, but that experience created a spark.
4. What is your non-theatre job, and are you working from home?
By day, I am Dr. Jason Roseberry, Chief Innovation Officer for a K12 educational technology company called Five Star Technology Solutions. We are a Google partner who works with school districts all over the country to amplify technology departments, support teachers, and coach leaders to use data to make better decisions. I work mostly from home anyway, and, as you can imagine, we have been very busy.
5. What is your training?
I graduated from Ball State University with a Musical Theatre degree. My wife, Hannegan, and I lived in NYC for two years and took classes, etc. while we learned lots of lessons the hard way. After 9/11, we turned down offers to the MFA program at Georgia University and joined the Acting Apprentice program at Actors Theatre of Louisville instead.
6. Does performing work to your advantage as a family in quarantine?
I am not sure! I have three kids so there is certainly plenty of drama. I have enjoyed watching my wife making use of Facebook and Tik Tok as an outlet for performance. She has pulled me into a few of those.
7. What shows are you on your bucket list as an actor? As a director?
As an actor, I don’t feel a great deal of a draw to the stage as I once did, but I usually gravitate towards slightly absurd comedic roles. I would love to play some roles in Bat Boy, Reckless (Craig Lucas), Pinter plays, and anything Shakespeare.
I am really enjoying directing at this point in my life. I love directing a variety of shows, but I am drawn to the types of shows I listed before. Working with actors to dig into characters and talk objectives and tactics is my favorite part of theatre. I absolutely adore the process of working with actors to bring a show to life.
8. Besides Louisville, what other places have you worked?
Hannegan and I spent a summer in college at a place in northern Indiana called Bear Creek Farms performing breakfast theatre, children’s theatre, and leading karaoke. Other than that, I had some success as a playwright and director in NYC. As an actor in NYC, I performed with Shakespeare in the Parking Lot and the Midtown Musical Theatre Festival (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari).
9. How is working in Louisville different?
I had a friend who experienced the NYC dream. His first week in NYC he booked Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway and he had a miserable time. I learned a valuable lesson from his experience. While it would be wonderful to be in a situation to get paid to direct full-time, Louisville provides the opportunity to work with high-level actors in an incredibly supportive theatre community. What is important to me is to have that sort of positive experience instead of only attaching value to productions based on their proximity to NYC.
10. What has been your quarantine playlist?
My taste is pretty random. While my house is filled with musicals pretty much 24/7, when I am alone I gravitate towards The Beatles, Avett Brothers, Southern Gothic (Parker Millsap, etc.), and Green Day.
11. What book is on your bedside table now?
I am always reading two or three books at a time. Right now, I am in the middle of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, and Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac.
12. What is the first thing you will do when you can come out of quarantine?
Take my wife to dinner and a show of course!
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.