By virtue of capturing the regional title for Lighting Design in March, Driver, a second-year theatre major at Amarillo College, earned the right to attend the national KCACTF event April 9-14 in the nation’s capital.
Driver is the first AC student to advance to the prestigious national theatre festival at Kennedy Center since 2006, and just the second since 1994. All such national finalists are deemed Kennedy Center Fellows.
“D.C. was beautiful,” Driver said. “It’s a gorgeous city. I got to work in some high-pressure lighting workshops there with professionals who made me feel like I was a professional – it was very fulfilling.”
Driver’s winning entry at the regional KCACTF was for a lighting design he conceived for AC’s February presentation of Fool for Love, a play in which he also played the male lead.
The regional triumph was a surprise, he said, because he has thus far spent most of his collegiate theatre career acting or directing, not so much lighting sets, a task he latched on to only in the past year.
“Winning the regional competition really shocked me,” Driver admits. “I’m primarily an actor and director, so I didn’t go in there thinking of it as a competition. I really just entered my design because I wanted to get some feedback from people that probably know more about it than me.
“I think they must have seen some uniqueness to what I did. I’ll admit I learned a lot at nationals, I loved it,” he said, “and the subtlety of lighting is a beautiful thing.”
However, while a bright future might well await Driver in lighting design, the 2016 graduate of Tascosa High School said he is not yet ready to choose so singular a path.
“I like to do things in theatre that are fulfilling for me,” he said. “The draw of AC’s Theatre Department is that we put on good shows and great opportunities spring from there. I’m not ready to be a professional lighting designer just yet; everything I have done at AC has expanded my understanding of the theatre because at AC you don’t pick and choose – you get to do everything.”
Ray Newburg, assistant professor of theatre arts, praised his pupil for his dedication to the craft.
“Jason Driver is an exceptionally gifted young man,” Newburg said. “When it comes to a show, he’s 100 percent committed. “I’m proud of him, particularly since this was his first time he entered the lighting design competition and he was competing against some upper-level undergraduates and one graduate student at regionals.”