I asked Perry Jackson, a 2nd year institute student at A.R.T. / MXAT, to discuss his experiences working on Donnie Darko, with Marcus Stern and the A.R.T. company members, and talk about his reaction to the film.
When the words Donnie Darko fell from the lips of Gideon Lester at the company meeting, I wanted to stand and applaud.
I had watched the film for the first time in college and loved it. Before auditioning I bought the movie and watched it three or more times. I already had it in my mind that if I could not be in the show, I wanted to be a fly on the wall during the process. Seeing my name on the cast list was surreal. I was excited to work with Marcus after having him as a teacher, learning acting technique. More importantly he teaches us about clarity. It is this skill that allows him to speak to a wide range of audiences.
Going into rehearsal, I wondered what the differences would be from being in class and working on a professional level. The transition from the way Marcus works as a teacher to director was seamless. I never felt hesitant to ask a question because he is so present and he doesn’t assume anything. He gives your thoughts credit and gives his honest opinion. Specifically, from the first read through it was amazing to hear all the voices of such a far ranging cast. Interesting to see, because the story is inherently cinematic. At the start, I could not see the script onstage. From the first day we were allowed to see the design and how it would physically happen; so my apprehensions didn’t last long. Like most efficient directors, he is prepared for all the bumps and trips as a given and not a surprise.
About two weeks remain before we open. I have not done this as many times as some, but I have never felt so comfortable and centered in the story we are going to tell.