Jon Adam Ross is bringing his unifying vision to Charleston. The New York-trained actor and writer helms an exciting production that will be part of Piccolo. Jon and his team — director Chantal Pavageaux and actor Darian Dauchan — are this week’s Friday Fiver. Jon shared with us what their project is all about, and we hope you can come out and meet them at the City Gallery on Monday. We asked Jon to share the project in his own words:
The inHEIRitance Project is a nationwide series of five plays, each created with a different American city through community conversation, study, exploration, and expression and inspired by a different character from the book of Genesis. In Charleston, theatre artists Jon Adam Ross, Chantal Pavageaux and Darian Dauchan are exploring the story of Rebecca and her twin sons, and how that story relates to Charleston today. Local artists of all mediums are invited to create their own artistic responses that will accompany performances of the finished play when it premieres as part of Piccolo Spoleto in June.
THIS MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8th, from 11am to 2pm, Jon, Chantal, and Darian will be at The City Gallery to meet with local artists who are interested in discussing the source text and its relationship to the Charleston community, and learning more about ways to be involved in the process or the exhibition. Feel free to drop in at any point between 11am and 2pm on Monday, and stay as long as you like. They are eager to meet you and expand their understanding of Charleston and the vibrant artistic community here.
The Friday Fiver:
Your plays will be presented as five stories from Genesis in five cities — Charleston, Minneapolis, Austin, Kansas City and Seattle. How did you pick those five cities?
When we got the commission from The Covenant Foundation to start this project, they were interested in us eschewing cities with large Jewish communities (New York, Chicago, LA, etc.) and we wanted to find Jewish communities that were off the beaten path. Working with smaller, unique Jewish communities the stories would be more interesting and the population more accessible.
The story being told in Charleston will be the story of Rebecca and her twins, Jacob and Esau. What drew you to this story, and how did you adapt it for the performance?
We were drawn to Rebecca’s story in part because she is the least written about ‘matriarch’ or ‘patriarch’ of the big 7 in the book of Genesis. And also because she is not a passive character, but rather takes initiative and changes the path of succession – or inheritance – for her children. That she carried, bore, and raised twins, and played favorites along the way, made her an even more complex character. Her sons’ fates are intertwined in her story, and Darian and I are eager to explore the twin relationship on stage. To be clear – we have not created the play yet. That will happen through our conversations in Charleston these next weeks and months leading up to Piccolo.
You are looking to perform the show at both African-American and Jewish houses of worships during the run. How do you see art as a tool for bringing together different faiths?
Theater is a key element of religious ritual, and the stories we’re wrestling with are ones with shared ownership across faiths. We have an opportunity to create and share art that is familiar in a universal way, but also presents the audience with versions of these stories that challenge their traditional understanding, making them think “wow, I never thought about it that way!”
You and your team are currently in Charleston planning for the event and, hopefully, taking in the Holy City. What has been one of your biggest pleasant surprises about Charleston?
Unlike any other city we’ve worked in, Charleston feels like one community. Everyone knows everyone else and are so eager to introduce us. Forget six degrees of separation, in Charleston it’s one degree. It’s been the most welcoming arts community, religious community, educational community and it’s all intertwined. We feel like we’re in one large living room.
You are an accomplished writer and actor with a BFA in acting from NYU. That said, give us your one guilty pleasure TV show or movie that you just have to indulge in on occasion.
Jon – When Harry Met Sally – that ‘Mr. Zero Knew’ story while doing the wave at a NY Giants football game sends me every time
Darian – Shawshank Redemption – because of the power of the human spirit
Chantal – Any reality television show where somebody gets to accomplish their dreams (Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Project Runway, etc.)