By Chris Nafekh, Staff Writer
Published in print Nov. 19, 2014
Kind, generous and talented are three words that describe Jackson Cooper. However these alone cannot express the warm, embracing aura that follows him. He can often be seen around campus, either by the Brown Building working collectively for his University theater department, or serving steaming treats to his friends at Tate Street Coffee House.
Jackson is a junior at UNC Greensboro currently completing a B.A. in theater studies. His experience is vast, compiling a three-page resume, single spaced, filled with names, titles, awards and recognitions.
“Being a B.A.,” he says, “is really like working a job that requires constant supervision. The faculty assess the students constantly in the rehearsal room, and that’s often why you’re cast…or not cast.”
Most recently, Jackson assistant directed the UNCG production of “The Vibrator Play” written by two-time Pulitzer nominee Sarah Ruhl.
“I met her!” He excitedly retells a story of New York City, Broadway and complete coincidence. “She’s the Wes Anderson of theater. If I had known I’d be working on her play, I would have said ‘You should come and see it!’”
Some of Jackson’s favorite playwrights include Ruhl, Shakespeare and Stephen Sondheim. Cooper is currently involved a production of “Into the Woods,” one of his favorite Sondheim plays. Revisiting this play for the second time, he is the Music Supervision Assistant with Playmakers Rep. out of Chapel Hill.
“I played the Butcher in high school,” he reflects. “I loved coming back to this play… It was like re-reading a book years later. That’s a sign of a good work… a play, sonata, book… if you can come back to it, that’s beautiful.”
When asked about his musical knowledge, he laughs a little. “I know a lot, but not as much as some people in this school. I balance theater and music… it’s a second passion.”
Music and theater are two much intertwined art forms. Jackson will soon begin work on “Cabaret”, the musical. “I’m very excited,” he says. “‘Cabaret’ was the first musical I saw as a kid. I realized what music can do for you. Art can hold adult, dark themes which I didn’t understand as a child.”
But he has also worked on children’s plays, such as “Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.”
“Junie B. was a great experience,” he says. “We just played ourselves as kids, so we all came to work each day and had fun. I lost an inch and a half off my waist on that show! We were dancing the whole time.”
With so much artistic experience to build on, Jackson is well on his way. He knows what he wants to do and where he’s going.
“It’s cheesy, ‘cause everyone is like, ‘New York is my City, dude.’ But the first time I went I felt something unique, something special. I go, hop a Chinatown bus and stay with my friend who’s in the opera.”
If anyone was ever meant to work in theater, it’s Jackson Cooper. Committed, capable and clearly talented, he will leave UNCG for bigger and better things.
“There’s something beautiful about how fleeting it is,” he adds. “You finish a show fast, but always maintain the friendships gained along the way. All and all I just want to keep theater alive.”