Jessi Towell is making her debut with Pigeon Creek as Dememtrius in Titus Andronicus! Jessi has also appeared as Jacques in As You Like it, Ampelisca in The Storm, and Patricia in Bethany (Aquinas College), Laney in Crooked and Madam Aigreville in The Ladies Man (GRCC Players). Jessi was nominated for a 2016 Grand Award for Best Supporting Actress in a College Production for her role as Costanza in Enchanted April (Aquinas College). This spring, Jessi will receive a BA in Theatre Arts from Aquinas College.
1) Give us a brief summary of your acting history: how’d you start acting, where/what did you study, how did you end up in Grand Rapids, etc.
I started acting in my freshman year of high school and immediately fell head over heels for the stage and everything it had to offer. From there, I participated in every play, musical, and MIFA One Act my high school put on in one capacity or another for the next four years. Once I got to college, I began studying theatre in earnest and participated in shows with both Aquinas College Theatre and GRCC Players. This is my first non-school-related production I've directly participated in.
2) What drew you to audition for this production?
I actually fell into the role by happenstance. When one actor was no longer able to participate in the production because of scheduling conflicts, I was asked if I was interested. I'd previously seen Pigeon Creek's Taming of the Shrew and was thrilled at the prospect of working with members of the talented cast I saw on stage months prior. Additionally, Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare's more rarely produced works and I couldn't resist the prospect of being a part of a show as enigmatic as this one.
3) Pick one aspect of PCSC’s “original practices” style (thrust staging, audience contact, cross-gendered casting, doubling, etc) that was new to you and tell us about your experience with it in this production.
While I've worked with all of these constructs in various college productions, this was the first time I'd employed all of them simultaneously. Also worth noting was that my earlier experiences with audience contact were in much more removed venues--in this production the proximity to the audience (who I interact with from time to time) is much, much closer. Thus, I can actually see the minute reactions on audience members' faces which provide a more unique and intimate response for me as a performer.
4) What do you do when you’re not acting?
When I'm not acting, I do illustration, embroider handmade patches, read--I like science fiction best--and sling the occasional sandwich for pay. I have a boyfriend (Ty) and two loud cats (Tim and Samus) that support me in all my endeavors, theatre-related and otherwise.
5) What is the next production or project you’ll be working on?
I hope to audition for Cymbeline as I just finished reading it recently and fell in love with the script.