Carr brings passion and focus to Villanova production

Eric Canlas

Seasoned professional director Jonathan Carr is new to the Villanova faculty, arriving just last spring. His debut production here at Villanova, “Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)” opened Sept. 30 in Vasey Hall with showings on campus for the followingtwo weeks.

In efforts to make the best first impression possible, Carr and his team of actors have been feverishly preparing a play that has famous cameos by none other than Shakespeare’s heaviest hitters, “Othello” and “Romeo and Juliet.” The play throws modern day playwright and scholar Constance Ledbelly into the intricate world created by Shakespeare, leaving you with intellectual glee.

Carr tackled the project with characteristic passion and fervor. “For me, the exciting part is finding what’s at the heart of ‘Othello’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and figuring out how to reproduce that in a different way,” Carr said.

Carr’s words point to a passion deeply ingrained into his character. It is easy to see the passion with which he clings to the theater as it overflows into his actions, words, and ends up filling the entire room.

Surprise is the key to enjoying life, he says. Surprise can fill the room with awe and wonder. Without surprise there would be no passion, no movement in life. All would be stagnant, old, and simply put, boring.

Carr avoids a stagnant, predictable life at all costs and what he finds out more and more is that directing plays and involvement in plays keeps stagnation at bay. Every chance he gets, Carr wants to challenge the very way we live life.

“We walk through our lives asleep,” he said. “There are things we simply don’t pay attention to whether we ignore them or we take them for granted. I want to wake up the space around us. I want to tell people, ‘Look at what you’re doing!'” So much of our life is spent taking seemingly trivial things for granted, and to Carr doing that is suicide,

by tiny, tiny increments. The more we ignore, the more passion is just sucked out of our lives.

Fittingly Carr began theater life in an unconventional manner. “I had to take an elective class in eighth grade … and I couldn’t draw,” Carr remembers, “so I ended up taking a drama class and I fell in love with it.” Still, despite his love for the theater, never in his wildest dreams did Carr think he would make a living out of it; everything just worked out the way it did. His first step in the field of directing came when he and his friends started a theater group one summer. They all happened to be actors and initially no one stepped up to fill the role of director. Without knowing where it would eventually lead him, Carr acted as the interim director.

“Since I tended to be the most organized person in the room, I volunteered myself for the job,” he said, he said. Just as his first directing job simply fell in his lap, theater itself slowly but surely worked its way into Carr’s life. “Every time I thought I would give up theater I would get involved in a production,” he said.

Play after play resulted in almost constant involvement in theater, and soon, Carr found himself as a director in the Big Apple: odd jobs during the day, director by nightfall. Carr, hectic schedule and all, obtained his M.F.A in directing from Columbia University where, in the chaotic and often frustrating life of a director, he found and grabbed the part of theater that touched him the most. Years of experience have revealed to Carr the intricacies and the subtle nuances that occur both during the production of the play and also about the power a play has on an audience.

Wonderfully articulate, he speaks with all the passion he can muster and his experience and lust for life just flow freely. Pure passion needs guidance and organization, for without such constraints, the passions run free, producing only chaos and confusion. “The job of the director is to bring everyone’s passions into focus towards one goal,” Carr said.