Monday, July 8, 2013

PAC Profiles Alumni Jess Prichard

A 2006 graduate of our two year professional actor training program, Jess Prichard has gone on to great professional and academic success. We caught up with him recently to talk about what he is up to and what advice he has for past, present and future PAC students.
Jess Prichard

Jess is currently performing with the acclaimed Riverside Theatre in Iowa City, IA, playing Osric in Hamlet, directed by Kristen Horton, and Moses in The School for Scandal, directed by Theodore Swetz. Later this summer at Riverside, he will be playing Thomas Novacheck in Venus in Fur, directed by Sean Lewis.

This fall, Jess will be a guest teacher at Cornell College, leading workshops for the Riverside Theatre/Cornell College premier of Birth Witches by playwright Jennifer Fawcett, which will be directed by Milwaukee Repertory's Leda Hoffman.

We asked Jess to share some thoughts with us about his journey as an artist and his time at PAC: 

Where is your hometown and where do you now reside? 

I was born and raised  in Los Angeles, California. I'm currently a resident of Iowa City, Iowa and am working with Riverside Theatre, so I'll call this "home" for a little while. Over the last year, I've lived in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin while acting with companies such as The Great River Shakespeare Festival and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. When audition forms ask for a permanent address, I jokingly write "transient." 

Can you describe why you chose to attend Portland Actors Conservatory? 

I was fortunate to have Beth Harper as my first acting teacher while I was a senior at Lewis & Clark College. Just before finishing my BA, Beth invited me to continue training at PAC. I'll never forget that conversation, it started me on this wonderful journey. I chose to attend because it was, and is, the most complete actor training program in Portland. 

What have you done since graduating from PAC? 

I was an actor in Portland for three years after PAC, working with Profile Theatre,  Mt Hood Rep, Artists Repertory and others. I was inspired by my work with Philip Cuomo at PAC and pursued clowning on a professional level. I became a company member at Imago Theatre and then  left Portland to complete an MFA in classical acting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I've been working in regional theatre since. 

How has the training you received here affected your life and career? 

PAC training guided me to where I am. Maureen Porter said "If you want to be great, place yourself near those who are great." It's been a great maxim to follow. When I was looking for a graduate program, Beth's advice led me to Illinois. Each time I work on a comedy I thank the heavens for studying with Philip, hearing his voice in my head guide me to a laugh. I've started to teach acting recently and Philip has been mentoring me in a new way.  PAC is family and it's reassuring to know I can return for support when I need it.

It sounds cliche, but the training is a gift that keeps giving. I have "Ah Ha" moments in rehearsal or performance when I realize "Ohhhhh, THAT'S what they meant back at PAC!" Beth once told me "It takes twenty years to be a good actor." I'm just now starting to see what she meant. 

What advice do you have for new acting students? 

Embrace your failure, be a "yes,"  and remember: you are your preparation. Failure is a requisite for artistry so get started ASAP. Being a "yes" will open doors and bring you places you never imagined. I promise. And prepare, prepare, prepare because "you play like you practice." Opportunity is fickle and fleeting, but it will embrace you if your are prepared. 

Any advice for recent PAC graduates? 

This career is a marathon, not a sprint. Ask yourself, "Where do I want to be in twenty years? In ten? In five? In  two?" Then ask, "OK, what do I have to do to get there?" You'll begin imagining the steps you'll need  to achieve these goals and then shape your life to make these steps. Above all, trust that you have a strong foundation from Portland Actors Conservatory training.

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