That smile alone would be reason enough to make actor J Jha our latest featured member, but J has also been wonderfully involved with Theatre Bay Area over the last year, from attending our strategic-planning listening tour to auditioning (and volunteering!) at the General Auditions. J's a wonderful supporter on and off stage, and a good person to have on your radar!
TBA Featured Member J Jha.
Tell us a little about your theatre work.
I am a 2014 graduate of The University of Washington's Professional Actor Training Program (MFA). I left New Delhi, India for Seattle, Washington in 2011 to start this new life-journey in the arts from a post-MBA career spanning hospitality, wellness, advertising and consulting, and I relocated to the Bay Area last year.
India is a land of stories—growing up as a kid I was fascinated by the stories of goddesses and their mortal conflicts, kings and their acts of selflessness, of duty, devotion and demons—and almost all of them taught us about the karmic book-keeping. So the theatrical was imbibed early.
The desire to stay away from group singing and dancing on cliffs in the middle of a chase sequence while the hero's mother hangs in balance from a rope tied to the saddle of the loyal and extremely intelligent family horse is what brought me to America to learn acting.
The UW program offers three-year conservatory training imbibing Alexander, Suzuki and Viewpoints, clown, stage & camera, teaching, and entrepreneurship, alongside the fundamentals of voice, speech, Shakespeare and lots of playing.
What's one of your favorite shows that you've worked on?
I am still biased to my very first play in America, a 2012 Winter quarter class studio project—Stephen Adley Guirgis' Motherf**ker with the Hat. Ralph in that play, and Iago—who I played with Montana Shakespeare in 2012—are the kind of characters I am attracted to because they reflect the true shades of gray that humanity is.
What do you like about the theatre scene here in the Bay?
The Bay has so much color, in terms of performance styles, diversity and ethnicity, business models and audience demographics, training and ensemble work, history and activism, leadership and vision for the relevance of theatre in this age of media profligacy—but all of this is centered around the core philosophy: for, of and by community. And that's what made me move here over Los Angeles, New York, or any other "if you are an actor, shouldn't you be in (fill in the blank)?" city.
Do you have a resource or piece of advice you'd like to share?
A community is only as rich as it is most generous. So give as much as you can, because it helps and always comes back to you. Volunteer, usher, house manage, hand out pamphlets at street fairs, post/blog/tweet/snapchat/instagram/or whatever was invented 20 seconds ago: do that. And let's share. We must tell stories about the good stories that we see—shout it out, even—because then more of that work will happen (Thank you TBA for helping us out here).
Anything coming up soon that you're excited about?
I am really excited about my work with Theatre of Yugen, under the direction of their new artistic director Tanroh Ishida. The Genji State aims to be the marriage of Japanese theatre and immersive theatre and will be showcased as part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival at Fort Mason in May/June 2015.
Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community.