Chris Jackson is under 25? Really? That was our reaction when Jackson’s name was suggested for this story. It didn’t seem possible that someone who had founded two theater companies already (and had already been singled out for those accomplishments in CL) could still be in his early 20s. But it’s true: he turned 24 this month.
Early achiever: By the time he was 20, he’d become the first person to act, direct and write a play for the Young Dramatists’ Project, He went on to give memorable performances (including Hyde in freeFall’s Jekyll & Hyde and the bipolar Matt in A Simple Theatre’s Good Egg), scored a regular role as a bully in MTV’s The Inbetweeners series, and founded and starred in the web series Timekeeper. In 2010 he launched the short-lived Revolve Theatre Company, which won a Best of the Bay award for Most Auspicious Debut, and this summer he and his girlfriend, accomplished singer/actor Alison Burns, established New Stage Theatre at Country Day World School in Largo, where they direct the theater and music programs, respectively. New Stage opened this month with an acclaimed production of Maybe, Baby, It’s You.
How Revolve evolved: “I felt like there was something missing and I really wanted to expose people to it,” says Jackson. “I didn’t want [theater] to be so clear cut. I think I was agitated a lot of the time. I’ve grown up — I hit that prepubescent period hard and it’s gone now.”
A New beginning: “New Stage and Revolve are completely different — they’re evil twins. I want people to come to New Stage and feel, ‘Wow, that was a great night’ — not too heavy, not too intimate, just enough to feel sophisticated and get your catharsis for the evening.”
A good team: “The real partnership is between Alison and I and this school.”
A very good Egg: “That was the role of my very young career so far … It was a constant tennis match between [co-star Meg Heimstead] and I — where we could slowly find this climax when I finally strike her.”
Dr. J and Mr. H: “That production alone was one of the catapults for Revolve — working with Eric Davis to see that you could take theater and make it your own and you don’t have to play by anyone else’s rules.”
Every two years we seem to be profiling you. So where do you expect to be after another two years? “In another two years I’ll probably have started three more theater companies — no, don’t print that, that’s a joke. I would love to see New Stage planted in the community — true to our goal of providing powerful theater and progressive education.”