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Q+A With Tarik Jones, Co-Founder of New Renaissance Theatre Company

Photo courtesy of Tarik Jones.

Tarik Jones is a fourth-year Theater and Graphic Design combined major. He has started an on-campus theatre company, the New Renaissance Theatre Company, and has worked with several prominent Boston theater productions through his co-ops.

What inspired you to choose theater as your major? What about design?

I originally came to Northeastern as a computer science major. In freshman year, I took intro to acting in the spring. Performance has always been a passion of mine ever since I was a child. I remember when I was really young, me and my older sister used to put on shows for our family in our living room (yes, I was one of those kids). Every time we went to the store, we got excited when finding some random item we could use in one of our performances. We made tickets and probably annoyed our family. Throughout my adolescent years, I have always been involved in singing and acting, and taking that class freshman year made me realize I can pursue theatre as a career. My passion for design also started when I was young. I took design courses in high school and made designs for my many YouTube channels, and short-lived t-shirt making business. I love to explore ways to tell a story with ease and clarity. My two disciplines allow me to do so.

What co-ops have you had so far during your time at Northeastern? What have you learned on your co-ops that you see yourself using in life?

My first coop was a producer/production assistant at Boston City TV (City of Boston). Each day I would travel somewhere to film the mayor give his speeches, get b-roll, and even interview people. When back at the office, I edited videos to put onto youtube, TV, radio, and other social media. A highlight from working at Boston City TV was getting police escorts to ride in trolleys with Mayor Walsh. Another highlight was meeting the Broadway cast of Moulin Rouge.

Photo courtesy of Tarik Jones.

My second coop was working in the marketing and public affairs departments at the Huntington Theatre Company. I was able to create documents and databases to assist in the development in the public affairs department, which recently separated from the marketing department. I was able to learn about how theatre works as an organization while contributing to marketing and publicity efforts. I pitched stories to the press, helped brainstorm marketing campaigns, did social media and marketing research, filmed videos and interviews, edited videos, assisted with graphic design, and helped plan the 35 Below

After Parties. I was able to meet theatre professionals and theatre artists who work in Boston and NYC. I have three highlights from working here that I want to point out. A highlight from working here was assisting with a photoshoot for the cast of Yerma where I got into a swampy lake with director, Melia Bensussen to hold up lighting equipment. We rolled up our pants, took our shoes off, and hopped in. A second highlight was accepting awards on behalf of the Huntington and its artists at the IRNE Awards. A third highlight was going to an interview with a teacher at West Roxbury Academy where she explained how having theatre teaching artists come to the school for lessons in performance has helped students open up, become better communicators, become better students, and even escape gang life. That was really moving for me. I learned how to become an excellent multitasker from working at the Huntington.

Could you tell us a bit about what it was like working with Faye Dunaway during Tea at Five?

Oh boy, it was absolutely horrendous. The stories you might have read are 100% true, but 10 times worse. I could give a TED Talk on just the first 30 minutes of working with her. A true nightmare.

What are some things you feel you’ve learned through your participation with theater at NU? Any particularly fond memories?

I’ve learned all aspects of theatre, from acting to behind the scenes work. I learned the process of theatre as a whole. I’ve learned to be a better collaborator. Everyone is theatre at NU is very supportive of each other. We all want each other to succeed, so we are constantly involved in each other’s projects and it feels like a real family. The students and faculty push each other to succeed and motivate each other. There can be a lot of work in some of the classes, but in the end it all feels well worth it because of the amount we grow as theatre artists through our studies. It’s great to work with professionals who show us what life in theatre is all about. A great memory was the entire process of acting in HAIR, which was my first show in theatre at NU. Our “tribe” instantly became best friends and it has been one of my greatest experiences at Northeastern. I learned so much about myself, theatre, and everyone involved during that production.

Photo courtesy of Tarik Jones.

Tell us more about the on-campus theatre group you started!

New Renaissance Theatre Company is a performing arts group focused of representing students from all backgrounds, especially students of color. I was inspired after seeing the lack of diversity in performance spaces on campus and in the professional world. I have heard students of color feel like they are unsure if theatre is the right place for them because of the lack of diversity and fear of not being accepted, and I wanted that to change. I have heard some people who have not been exposed to theatre before find a new passion because of their new exposure to it and wanted to spread the art of performance to as many groups as possible. I came to my friend, Amos Nasongo, with the idea, and we made it happen. Theatre is the only art form which encompasses every other art form, so whether you’re an actor, director, designer, musician, dancer, painter, etc, there is a place for you in theatre.

In our first semester on campus in spring 2019, we have produced 3 student written plays. Our mainstage play, Joker’s Wild, which was written and directed by Amos Nasongo, features 7 actors, 6 of which were actors of color, and 5 of which were women of color. Behind the scenes, we features artists of all backgrounds as well. Many people who work with us have had little to no experience in theatre prior to their involvement.

If there’s anything else you would like for us to share?

I hope you have a fantastic day! If you are a freshman with questions or are thinking about going to NU, feel free to shoot me an email at jones.tar@husky.neu.edu. You can also follow me on Instagram @tarik_jones.