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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday Special - Working in Theater - Jon Adam Ross, Creator of A Collection of Plays Based on the Books of Genesis

Welcome to another installment of our Working in Theater series. This series in which we interview people working in different theater related jobs runs perodically on Saturdays. Today we will be talking to Jon Adam Ross (JAR) who created a collection of plays in different U.S Cities inspired by the book of Genesis. It was presented for the first time in New York this past May at the 14th Street Y.


What is your job title? 

JAR: Managing Director and Founding Artist of The In[heir]itance Project


How would you describe what you do?

JAR: We immerse ourselves in communities around the country devising theater, combining their lived experiences with their inherited 'sacred' texts. 


How did you come to be doing the job that you do? 

JAR: We received a commission from The Covenant Foundation to create a national theater series inspired by stories from the Book of Genesis near the end of 2014. From 2015-17 we made plays in five US cities (Minneapolis, Charleston, Austin, Seattle, and Kansas City) working with local artists and faith communities. Then we put all five of those plays together in one space for three exciting weeks at the Theater at the 14th Street Y.



Did you have to get any special training for your job?

JAR: I spent four years studying at the Experimental Theater Wing at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. And I consume a lot of art (books, theater, dance, movies, etc.).


What is the best part of your job? 

JAR: Getting to meet and work with incredibly talented artists all around the country, and creating work that begets work (all box office proceeds for IP productions go to grants for local artists and arts organizations).

What is the worst part of your job?

JAR: People trust us with their stories. Doing justice to that trust while navigating audience assumptions is quite challenging. When you're working with sacred text, often people come into the room with fully baked opinions about that text. And challenging those opinions can piss people off.


What are some of your favorite shows that you have worked on? 

JAR: The five Genesis Plays, of course!


What show if any would you loved to have worked on? 

JAR: Anything created by Liz Lerman or Anna Deavere Smith. Or one of Jerzy Grotowski's 
experiments!


Who are some other people in your field that you admire? 

JAR: John Leguizamo is a crucial artist who proves over and over again that specificity facilitates universality.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do?

JAR: Listen. Doubt. Ask. The moment you walk into a room thinking you know what you want to do and how you want to do it is the moment magic dies.


We thank John Adam Ross for taking the time to answer our questions. To learn more about The In[heir]itance Project, visit https://inheiritance.org/ 

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