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From behind bars to the stage

3 September 2014 By Devorah Roberts, Senior Editor No Comments
Towson senior performs play written by inmates

Actress001-MurphySome people know exactly what they want to do from a young age, whether it’s becoming a dancer or an astronaut. Senior Lauren Jackson wanted to sing. However, after a push from her parents, Jackson turned her attention to acting.

“… I tell them that it’s their fault, you know, that I’m an acting major,” Jackson, who has a double major in acting and English, said.

But it didn’t turn out to be a bad decision for Jackson. On Friday, Aug. 30, Jackson performed on the Kennedy Center’s stage in Washington, D.C. as part of the ensemble cast of the “From Prison to Stage Festival.”

Written by current prison inmates, or inmates who were recently released, the “Prison to Stage Festival” is a one-night only show. However, due to its ensemble nature, Jackson had the opportunity to play multiple roles in that one night, including a gardener, an inmate and a disembodied all-knowing voice.

Previously, Jackson had performed in two Towson shows, “The Colored Museum” and “Machinal,” as well as smaller MFA productions. But this was the first time she performed at the Kennedy Center. In fact, even her rehearsals didn’t take place on the actual stage.

“That [was] one of the most… unpredictable things about the show because all these times we’ve been rehearsing somewhere else,” Jackson said.

Jackson attributed landing the part to the confidence she gained at Towson, as well as all that she learned from her professors.

“Working for certain professors, they have a way of opening you up, not just as an actor, but as a person. And I’ve benefitted from it and it’s helped me to grow here,” she said.

Her education continues outside the classroom as well. Jackson said that she learned a lot from director of the play, Betty May, as well.

“Every director is different, just like I said each professor is different, and some open you up more than others. I think it’s the same way with directors,” Jackson said. “But she’s definitely taught me a lot about diction. That’s her thing. She has to be able to hear you and understand what you’re saying.”

While Jackson won’t be performing in any Towson plays this fall, auditions will be coming up in spring. As she finishes up school and continues auditioning for more shows, Jackson plans to apply all that she learned, both from working at the Kennedy Center and from Towson.

“I’m just going to audition for stuff as much as I can, and try and graduate,” she said.

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