Getting to Know JONATHAN NORTON - Dallas Theater Center
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What’s the project you’ve enjoyed working on most at the Dallas Theater Center? Ummmm….. penny candy. LOL!


Do you have any advice for people who are looking for a creative outlet like writing or other art? My advice is geared more toward folks interested in moving forward professionally in their creative pursuits. Here goes. Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about the business and your craft. And remember, the Internet is your friend. YouTube is your friend. Go down the information rabbit hole. I started out by typing every possible playwriting topic I could think of into my search engine – such as new play competitions, new play conferences, playwriting advice, new play development, whatever came to mind. And ultimately each search revealed a new piece of information that led to a new topic to explore. Also, I visited (and still do) a variety of theater websites on a frequent basis to learn about what they do and the writers they produce. And that information would lead me on another search investigating the companies and opportunities listed in the playwrights’ bios. This is how I learned what I needed to know to get me started.


What play has meant the most to you as a playwright and why? Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson. I did Joe Turner’s at Theatre Three my freshman year in high school. It had a profound impact on me. I very likely would not be a playwright if not for my experience with Joe Turner’s. Plus I believe it to be Wilson’s best work, and it was his favorite play, too.

Cast members of penny candy. photo by Karen Almond


Is your favorite play to read the same as your favorite live performance? No. Reading never replaces the live experience. And I can’t recall an instance where the two align.


Who is your favorite playwright? Lynne Nottage. Because she never writes the same play twice.


If you were a superhero, who would you be and why? Spiderman! As a little kid, I was absolutely obsessed with the cheap plastic Spiderman mask with the string in the back, found at grocery stores back in the day. I can’t fully explain the attraction, but I could not take my eyes off the Spiderman mask. Batman, The Hulk, Aquaman, Superman….  Wonder Woman…. all of them… did nothing for me.


Aside from playwriting, what’s your favorite thing about theater (directing, acting, set creation, etc.)? I love the technical/ production management side of things, even though I have no aptitude for it. The fact that whatever we do has to be recreated with each performance in real time with a live audience. For instance, with penny candy, it always amazed me how much went into making that play happen night after night. Like the props department had to create six weeks’ worth of fake severed hands that could be chopped up for forty plus shows. Or that the stage crew had to figure out a plan to destroy the candy house at intermission and restore it after curtain call. And they had to do it TWICE on Saturdays and Sundays.. Stuff like that I LOVE. In theater there’s no such thing as “doing it in post.” And I love that. Oh and John Slauson is a genius.


What’s your favorite thing to do when you have to shelter-in-place? Going down the YouTube rabbit hole. I love YouTube.


Have you discovered a new show, book series, movie, or other art during your time away from the stage? On YouTube (surprise) I found a family with multiple channels, The McClures, and I’ve become addicted to their videos. Each parent has a channel (though not as active anymore) one for the twin daughters (The McClure Twins), one for the two-year old baby brother (Playtime With Jersey) and one for the whole family (The McClures). The first video I saw was that of Jersey on his first rollercoaster at Disney. He’s big for his age so he met the height requirement. His response to the rollercoaster made me think of what we’re going through with COVID-19. Overwhelmed after experiencing his first coaster, through tears Jersey says “I did that. I did that” That moment made me think of the immense bravery and courage we need to get through this current moment. Especially the bravery of health care workers on the front line. I was hooked ever since.


We’ve seen a lot of reunion specials recently – movies, theater productions, TV shows. Is there one you’re hoping for? The ONLY reunion special I want to see is music related. I want to see Madonna reunite with her former background singers/dancers, Donna Delory and Niki Haris. They made Madonna look and SOUND really good. As a team, Donna and Niki worked with Madonna from 1987 on the Who’s That Girl Tour until the Drowned World Tour in 2001. Niki left the fold after Drowned World, and Donna left after Live Earth in 2007.


Is there anything else I haven’t asked about that you’d like to add? Yes.  Please support Dallas area BIPOC and BIPOC-led theaters – African American Repertory Theater, Bishop Arts Theatre Center, Cara Mia Theatre, Soul Rep Theater Company and Teatro Dallas.



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