Jenny Jones can stake a legitimate claim to uniqueness: About a year ago she became the first female Fight Master of the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD). That means that the University of Cincinnati theater professor of acting and movement can teach performers how to throw a punch convincingly — but safely. And she knows a lot about swords, rapiers and quarterstaff, not to mention hand-to-hand combat.
She acts occasionally with local companies (a central role in Ensemble Theatre’s More Fun Than Bowling a year ago earned her a 2008 CEA nomination), and she helps second-year drama students at CCM refine their acting skills. One more thing about her: Jones has a raucous sense of humor and an infectious laugh.
Q: What’s the coolest thing about you?
Jones: My mantra is based on a statement from Michael Chekhov (a legendary actor and director, and a nephew of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov): “Poor indeed is the imagination that leaves the artist’s mind cold, and poor indeed is the influx of wisdom to such an artist, when one hears him say, ‘I have built my art upon my convictions.’ Would it not be better for an artist to say that he has built his convictions upon his art?” I challenge the convictions of my students and myself every day.
This way of thinking has allowed me to become an innovator of unarmed stage combat and recognized for my teaching.
Q: What’s cool about theater at CCM? Jones:
None of our students walk or talk or look alike, yet their understanding of “ensemble” is unmatched in kids their age. We do not offer a cookie-cutter program. Instead we encourage students to discover who they are, what their voices are, their place in the art and the industry.
Q: Who’s the coolest person you know?
Jones: My friend Mark “Rat” Guinn. He has a stubborn, unequaled love for life. After surviving an aneurism that would have killed most people, within months he was nailing the heart of a target with a tomahawk at 20 feet, stronger and more beautiful than ever. He taught me that it’s about how fast you get back up.
A full calendar of CCM PERFORMANCES is available at www.ccm.uc.edu.
PHOTO: K. JENNY JONES