Jim Jorgensen on art, the human heart, and loving your character

9732163139_3469a95245With only one weekend to go, we finally got to ask Jim Jorgensen some questions about his character Darius Wheeler, the aptly named wheeler/dealer in 36 Views.

You’ve appeared in many Constellation productions – tell us a bit about your history with the company

To give you some back ground, I had either heard of or seen Allison and Constellation’s work for a while before auditioning.  I first saw The Oresteia, followed by Crazyface.  From then on I tried to see as many of the productions as possible.  Basically since 2008, I have become a big fan and only missed three shows,   with the exception of the year I was out of town with a college teaching gig in Lincoln, NE.

The first season I auditioned for was the 2009-2010 Season.  My wife, Charlotte Akin, was cast in A Flea in Her Ear, then I closed the season with The Ramayana.  That experience was a special one for me.  It introduced me to many of the original company members and the joy that they had for the work,  for Allison, and the passion for the mission of the theatre.  At the close of it, there was a rumor of a remount, which I committed to right away.  I followed that up with On the Razzle which I was lucky enough to be in with

Jim's wife, Charlotte Akin,  in Gilgamesh, as Ninsun

Jim’s wife, Charlotte Akin, in Gilgamesh, as Ninsun

Charlotte as well, and, as I said, the remount of the Ramayana in the 2011-2012 Season.  Then in 2012-2013 Season I was asked to be in Zorro and Gilgamesh.  Charlotte was in Gilgamesh as well.  And now finally in 2013-2014 Season I’ve had the very fortunate opportunity to participate in 36 Views.

Great. Tell us a little about the experience of working on this show for Constellation– what was unique and different about it from other CTC  productions.

Well the first thing I should say about Constellation is there is such a love, care, and joy to the process from start to finish on closing night.  Whether it is working on a large production with tons of elements  – epic in scale such as The Ramayana or Gilgamesh – (both shows had many, many moving parts), or something that is more wordy and “realistic” like 36 Views.  The people behind the scenes and  the whole production team really seem to support each other.  There is such an excellence to what they bring and support, and that comes back to the actors.  I am constantly amazed by that.  I know it is not always the easiest thing to do.

Darius is described as unscrupulous; a sort of swinging bachelor, ladies man; insincere and cold hearted – – what do you think about him – what have discovered about him over the course of the play? Are all those things true about him? 

 You always love the character you play.  I have a deep amount of love and respect for the steps he takes and, of course, “justify” each of them.  I would say he calls himself a deeply fucked up individual and that could be a fair evaluation.  But that is for me a very complex evaluation, as I see it.  There are the good parts of him that the audience sees with Setsuko, but then there are the stories that others tell (that may or may not be true) and the actions that you see with Elizabeth Newman Orr (the character played by

with Megan Dominy as Charlotte Newman Orr in 36 Views

with Megan Dominy as Charlotte Newman Orr in 36 Views

Megan Dominy).  There is a duplicity with Darius, no doubt.  I would say that he is what the environment has made him.  Very Darwinian.  But again, there is his family, which I think is very important as well in the picture of the man:  speaking of his father and sister, but no mention of  his mother,  and what I like to think are his ‘days in Seattle’.  Setsuko is a “last chance” as it were to become more human, and unfortunately I would have to say that when that turns south, the money/businessman may recover, but not his heart. Particularly after those he has kept close – John and Claire –  turn the tables on him. Once that takes place I would guess the doors are shut and one becomes even more cut throat and jaded.

How do you work – how did you develop this character? 

The script is the key.  Then the actors I am with on stages –  their give and take and our connection to the action of the scene. Of course, the directors guidance is penultimate.  I really try to personalize it as much as I can and make sure that every chance for a rounded character is there.  Then I just try to tell the character’s truth and the truth of the moment. That is really important to the audience –  if they see a lie –  that is the worst thing you can do to them.  The fun thing in Constellation shows is that sometimes the “truth” can be very big and epic but it can be quite human as well.

 What kind of art do you like?

Me personally, I like work from the Impressionist (19th Century Paris) to Abstract Expressionism (post WWII) eras.  I am a bit more of a fan of European and American work during those eras.  I must admit the Asian artwork we cover in this play,  that Darius has a love for, has opened up a whole love of

Van Gogh's Starry Night.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

that work for me.   Plus, how can you not see the beauty that is put on that stage via the projections?!  But to be honest, the work that gets to me the most are the ones where I get a bit of help understanding.  Once someone “enlightens’ me, the light goes off and another world opens up

What’s next on your agenda…where can we see you next?

Believe it or not, I just started rehearsals for a original work over at Theatre J  in the last week of 36 Views production, called Our Suburb that runs in December and January.  Then I finish things up this year with a remount of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at Forum Theatre in the late spring/early summer.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. With Brian Hemmingsen

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. With Brian Hemmingsen


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