Meet The New Theatre Director, Mr. Jason Peck

I recently sat down with Mr. Jason Peck, the new St. Luke’s theater directer, to learn what he brings to the SLS community and in anticipation of the fall play Distracted.

Sentinel: Good morning Mr. Peck, thanks for sitting down with me today. What is your background before coming to St. Luke’s?
​Mr. Peck: I have had the pleasure of exploring many different regions of this country. I was born in Los Angeles, went to an Independent School in Los Angeles called Sierra Canyon where I really fell in love with the community found in independent schools. I got my BFA in Acting from the University of Southern California and worked as an actor in Los Angeles for a number of years, primarily in episodic television.  I made my living for a number years playing a recurring role on the sci-fi cult hit Roswell, but during lean times I spent some time serving as a Teaching Artist through the Screen Actor’s Guild, where I really fell in love with teaching.  Knowing that I wanted to teach professionally, I pursued an advanced degree getting my MFA in Acting from the Florida State University/Asolo Acting Conservatory which allowed me to teach at the college level.

Sentinel: How did you end up at St. Luke’s?
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Mr. Peck: I grew up in Los Angeles and all my family is out there and after taking some teaching jobs in North Carolina decided I wanted to move my family back to Los Angeles to be closer to my parents and my brother and sister.  I took a job as Theatre Director at the prestigious Brentwood School, a top independent high school in LA.  My wife and I soon realized that living in Los Angeles as childless adults is completely different than living in Los Angeles with two young children.  I have a love/hate relationship with Los​ Angeles but one of the things that quickly became apparent after my LA homecoming was that ​we did not want to raise our kids in that environment.  I sent out feelers that I was looking for a job.  Geography was a concern as we wanted to be close enough to culture but wanted reside  in a smaller slow pace town that was socially open minded.  Being so close to New York but far enough away, Fairfield County seemed like such a great fit. After interviewing here it was clear that this was a special place.  I loved the fact that my day was spent speaking with so many different people which showed that this was a faculty that valued community input.

Sentinel: Were you involved in theater when you were in California? If not what was your job?

Mr. Peck: ​I was fortunate enough that I was able to support myself on my Acting work for a number of years.  I waited tables sporadically and was very involved with the theatre scene in Los Angeles. Me and a couple of my buddies created a theatre company- the Namaste Theatre Company- that was based out of Tim Robbin’s Actor’s Gang Theatre in Los Angeles. We would aim to do provocative new work that challenged the status quo.  ​

Sentinel: As someone involved in show business, did you find yourself struggling to open up and be confident on stage, or are you a natural extrovert?

Mr. Peck: This is a great question!  People always assume that actors and performers are always these wacky, crazy, larger than life people. I was the exact opposite. I was and still am very shy around people.  I love the stage so much because it is one of the few places where I give my self permission to be present and “to play.”​

Sentinel: What’s this upcoming play about?

Mr. Peck: Distracted ​​is about a mother and father who are searching to discover what is the best treatment for their son who may or may not have ADD.  But the play is really a larger comment on why we are so “distracted” in life and why it is so difficult to be present without being pulled away by our electronic devices.  Lisa Loomer, the playwright, said she sat down to write a play that explored this question: “What is ADD in an ADD world?”

Sentinel: How did you choose distracted to be the play this year?

Mr. Peck: Choosing a play is always challenging yet fun.  It was a particular challenge this year since I was stepping into a situation where I did not know the actors, did not know the talent level, and did not know the culture of the school.  We actually had two other shows that we were considering but for various reasons either a) the rights being pulled from us due to a professional production going up or b) not enough people to come out ​we decided on Distracted.  I’ve directed it before and was the perfect show for the guys and girls we had. It also tackles a subject that I think our community understands.

Sentinel: Was this concept hard for some of the actors to grasp?

​Mr. Peck: The biggest challenge for the show is that it is meta in its design. Characters will often break the fourth wall and directly address the audience.  It was a challenge at first but, as in any stylized work, once they understand the vocabulary of my way of working, it becomes second nature.​

Sentinel: What is the biggest difference between East Coast and West Coast?

Mr Peck: Two things. The weather — I never experienced Fall before, and I am hooked — and the energy. The West Coast is a bit more laid back. I would often come to class in t-shirts, shorts, and flip flops. But I think the formality allows the students to be a bit more respectful of the learning process and rehearsal in general.

To see the manifestation of Mr. Peck’s hard work, go see Distracted Friday, November 13, and Saturday, November 14 in the Seldin Performing Arts Center!

–Nick Meyers, Staff Writer

Posted by on November 12, 2015. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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