In movies, acting is all about the face and the close-up. But on stage, Dallas actor and teaching artist Ivan Jasso uses his body to transform into characters.
Just off Northwest Highway, near Bachman Lake, there’s a community center called Bachman Lake Together. It’s a learning center for children and a gathering place for parents. But for the past few months, one classroom has been serving as an acting studio for neighbors who speak English as a second language — and who’ve never been on stage before. The class is taught by local actor Ivan Jasso.
“I try to keep it light and fun,” Jasso says. “We focus a lot on movement-based communication and how to use our focus, our eye contact and our body to best communicate what we want.”
The class is part of a new program spearheaded by the Dallas Theater Center. The program is called Public Works Dallas. It will put 100 ordinary Dallasites on stage with professional actors for Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill community theater show. If anything, this is a show about the community.
“Public Works Dallas starts off with the fundamental idea that the arts and shared cultural experiences belong equally to every single human being,” says Kevin Moriarty.
Moriarty is Dallas Theater Center's artistic director. He selected Jasso to teach this class because he speaks Spanish and English and he has experience teaching students of different ages. Moriarty also says Jasso has unique abilities he wants the students to see.
“Ivan has an immense amount of skills as an actor,” says Moriarty. “The one that was perhaps most immediately apparent to me when I first had the opportunity to work with him is ability to physically embody a role.”
That’s a skill Public Works Dallas needs for their newcomers.