Jonathan Horton: Organic & Questioning

Jonathan Horton Interview by Jen Bush

Meet Jonathan Horton who will be portraying the character of Jon Michael in Resurrection.  The American Theatre of Actors is proud to present this important historical play about tragedy and loss in an African American community in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Mr. Horton shared some time with us to discuss this play and how he prepares for roles.

Mr. Horton employs a comprehensive and methodical creative process when bringing a character to life.  He is especially adept at crying on command.  “I first start with reading the script. I then study the lines by rote. I then test myself by answering the other person’s lines as I write my response which includes the correct punctuation used. After everything is 100%, I move on to a fact sheet. Once I know all the facts given to me, I can move on to breaking down scenes. Which includes a lot of tedious detail work. I then work on my character background. After that I mediate on what I know, what I don’t know, how I can relate personally, and what questions should I ask myself others, or do I experience new things that won’t harm me or others.”  

             “After all the questions and facts are known. I have ideas that I can bring to rehearsal or set.”  

             “I work from the inside out and leave everything I know at the door, so my work is organic. I trust the God’s and myself.” 

“Once we figure out what work I go home and start the real fun. Sharpening everything up, lots of mediation, and trying different ways of acting the role. Adding the little nuances, etc.”  

“My acting stems majority from Meisner, but that always doesn’t work, or I don’t want to work method, so I know many other techniques I have learned. Sometimes I must work from the outside to inwards.” 

               “As for my gift at crying on command, that is my technique, I can teach you.”  

 There are many things that the audience will take away upon seeing this play.  Mr. Horton wants the audience to take away historical accuracy, the truth about events and realities of how people are brought up.  “I want people to see how important it is to not brush history under the rug. I never was taught about Black Walls Street in Canton Township, Ohio or even college. I find even with our families we brush our mistakes, shame, resentments under the rug. The problem with this is we hurt the next generation. If we can’t admit our mistakes, hate, shame, resentments, by talking about them how can we grow? How can the next generation be better?”  

“I also want people to see that racism is taught. It is not something we are born with. Being a person who was taught racism and playing a character who is demanded to kill his black friend because he is so  scared of his father is still very relevant today. We need to change our behavior as parents and as humans with one another. We should stop being selfish, self-absorbed, and greedy. We need to be truthful, do God’s will, help each other, and listen. Put others first! LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”  

Mr. Horton is an altruistic person and being in this play provided him with a greater path of self-improvement in order to help others.  “I took away a stronger will to improve myself, so I can be of service to others in need. There is plenty of work to be done in this country and world, so I need to step up with my light working gifts, humanitarianism, and philanthropy.”   

Mr. Horton drew from history when building his character.  “I studied dialects and watched videos during the time period. Studied how people talked, behaved, and thought. I also added a bit of on the spectrum which is relevant in my family, so I studied and asked questions with people who are affected with this disease. I of course added my personal experience of racism in my house and the town I grew up in Canton Township, Ohio.”  

Being in a play dealing with true events in history comes with an added responsibility to portray those events accurately.  Mr. Horton takes on that responsibility adding in an emotional component.  “Like I said earlier we are very responsible. It starts in our homes and with ourselves. You must work on your inner peace and inner demons. After we fix ourselves, we can help others. We must stop being selfish, self-absorbed, ignorant, scared, resentful, ashamed, jealous of others, and stop our hatred. We need to stop teaching racism. We must bring love and hope back into our lives.”

Next this talented actor will be preparing for a role behind the scenes for a musical he co-wrote.  “I co-wrote a dark-romantic-fantasy musical, ‘Mirror, Mirror’ A Musical in Seven Times. We will be fully backed for a month run April 6th –23rd at The Theater for The New City. I chose not to act in this even though I created the lead role nine years ago for myself.  Not only should someone bring this character to life because I know someone could do a better job than me, but I also will be wearing other  hats off the stage that will keep me busy.”  

You can see Mr. Horton and the rest of the talented cast at The American Theatre of Actors in Resurrection from February 8-12.

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