SELU Professor James Winter talks about his journey in Theatre.
Not many people think about what happens behind the scenes of a theatre production or the long nights of rehearsals in preparation for the next big play at the Vonnie Borden Theatre. Being the producer or director of a play carries a lot of weight as you are in charge of almost everything that goes on. From securing a script, to casting, and even being apart of the set design process…clearly theatre is only for the passionate.
James Winter whose an Associate Professor of Theatre at Southeastern University, is a Renaissance Man. He’s an actor, director, writer, producer, and of course a teacher. His initial interest was in athletics until an injury in high school halted any future career, “I ended up getting involved in the drama club and the next thing I knew I was the president of the drama club. I only went back to sports except for fun.” He would later move to New York for three years after making the decision to become a professional actor. Performing in New York led to opportunities that many would find intimidating when looking at Winter’s resume. For example, performing at Madison Square Garden to name one of them, “It was crazy. There was one night after work. I heard music and I followed the sound. The next thing I knew I was standing backstage of a Luther Vandross concert in Madison Square Garden” he said.
After New York, James traveled to New Orleans for graduate studies in theatre, but ended up staying in the city afterwards. Winter even traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland and taught while working for UNO one summer, “I ended up having a play that I wrote staged at the Fringefest venue in Edinburgh which is really cool.” James Winter is also a founding member of the InsideOut production company located in New Orleans. The company has been nominated for a couple awards even winning a few “Big Easy” awards.
“I’ve been writing textbooks for several years now. I wrote an intro to theatre book and edited some theatre anthologies,” Winter explained. “After I showed them what I could do, they let me write an acting book. I got to develop how the book was layed out and its actually like an interactive book.” Winter’s book, “Act One, Scene One” is what he describes as a basic college level intro-to-acting book where actors can do script analysis and write journal entries. He prefers a specific acting style, like method acting. “I use anything and everything. I’ve taken method workshops. I’ve worked with directors that have different approaches and viewpoints, so I kind of look at it as if one big toolbox and you just have to find the right tools sometimes.”
Winter also has a love for original plays like, “Parking Lot Babies,” written by Zachary Boudreux, who has helped develop and direct the play for Southeastern. This fall will premiere a new play non-original titled, “Distracted”, written by Lisa Loomer. “Its about two parents trying to find out if their son has ADHD. Its really funny at times and its really heartbreaking at times,” he explained. “Its our most technically ambitious production. Its very multi-media, because she also says a lot about, how can we not be distracted now? We’re all looking at our cellphones and have six different screens up at any given time.” Winter notes that this production will be very high-tech for Southeastern. Distracted will run Oct. 18-21 at 7:30 in the evening at the Vonnie Borden Theatre.