Tuesday, December 14, 2010

‘Turkey Boy’ Grows Up

At age 11, Jordan Bellow thought he knew everything about acting.  After all, he had taken acting classes. He was good at memorizing.  And he’d learned how to block scenes.  So when Jordan entered SCR’s Summer Acting Workshop it was with a single goal:

Jordan Bellow in The Beloved Dearly (2004).
“I wanted to be famous.”

One day he and his classmates performed a seemingly simple exercise called sound/movement circle.  He never had done anything like it and began to think maybe there was more to acting than just reciting lines and standing in the right place.  So he joined the year-round program for kids and teens.

Every day he learned something new, and it stuck with him, especially another exercise that didn’t seem to have anything to do with acting—looking at a picture and imagining the story behind it.  Jordan and the others in his group began to bounce ideas off each other about what had happened to the people in the picture and what might happen next, surprising themselves as they came up with fascinating possibilities.

“It was more fun than anything I’d ever done in an acting class, and I finally realized I’d been excited for the right reason—it was all about story.  In the past, it had been about performing onstage with people watching.  At SCR I threw away that other actor guy and started fresh.”

He also thought directors just told you what to do and you did it.  “I didn’t know you could have conversations with them.  In my first Players show, Scouting Reality, I was part of an ensemble with the director (Hisa Takakuwa) and the cast.  It was a real collaboration, and I loved it!”

And it was a lead role.  Not so the Players production of Snow Angel.  “I almost never spoke … well, at least not in the show,” added the admittedly talkative Jordan.  “When I started studying the person I played and the reasons why he didn’t talk much, he became really interesting to me.  It was all about understanding character.”

Hal Landon Jr and Jordan Bellow
in  A Christmas Carol.
Photo by Henry DiRocco.

When he moved out of his comfort zone as the sidekick-comic-guy, other roles, big and small, followed until—the summer after his freshman year of college—Jordan was accepted into SCR’s Professional Acting Program.  At first, he was skeptical.

“In Players, there was an environment that I can only describe as magical.  I still don’t know how they created it, but I could be my complete self all the time—with the director and all the other actors, who are still the closest friends I have.  I was sure they couldn’t create that environment in the professional program, in just eight weeks.  But by the second week, everyone was making the same comments I used to get in Players as a kid—we all just loved being at SCR and being ourselves.”

Now a sophomore in the BFA theatre performance program at Chapman University, Jordan recently appeared in If All the Sky Were Paper, and last year, he played Lövborg in Hedda Gabler—the only freshman in the cast.

“I owe that one to Hisa and our monologue classwork.  I’d chosen a speech from The Seagull and had worked on it since high school.  So I just put that in my back pocket and pulled it out for the Hedda audition!”

Now he is onstage with one of his favorite Professional Acting Program teachers—Hal Landon Jr.—playing Thomas Shelley in A Christmas Carol.  “It’s a long way from my 13-year-old ‘Turkey Boy’ role, but I’m just as excited as I was then because I’ll be onstage at SCR, where I learned what acting was all about.”

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