Jason Hedrick, Sauk Valley Community College’s director of theater. will be the keynote lecturer at the 2010 Petit Jean Performance Festival on Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17, at Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton, Arkansas.
This performance festival is attended by college theater majors and artists from all over the U.S. and Hedrick knows it well. He has attended Petit Jean as a student at both Sauk and at Southern Illinois University and as a Sauk instructor. Now he will have the distinction of being this year’s guest lecturer.
“I started going to the festival with (the late) Jerry Mathis as a (Sauk) student in 1990, although Sauk had been attending well before that,” said Hedrick. “After our presentation last year of The Euphio Question, I was honored to be asked back as guest this year.”
Known to most as a teacher and theater director, Hedrick has directed more than 20 productions in the Mathis Theatre since he began at Sauk in 2001. His productions have taken Sauk Valley area audiences from the comical to the dramatic to the thought-provoking and all in between. As assistant professor of speech and theatre, he teaches courses in theatre history, basic and intermediate acting, performance of literature, film appreciation, and speech. However, what many may not know is that Hedrick is also a talented performer and writer of original works and adaptations.
While at Sauk, Hedrick wrote and directed The Euphio Question (2009), Students: Stories and Poems on Education (2007), and the collaborative production on First Amendment rights, Speaking Freely (2004). As co-director of the Greylight Theatre in Murphysboro from 1997 to 2001 (a theatre collective dedicated to new and experimental works), Hedrick wrote and directed the long-form experimental The Big “Jason Hedrick’s ‘Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’” Show: The Play That Never Was in 2000. His resume’ also includes the classic works of William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, and Edward Albee.
Sharing his experience through his teaching, Hedrick has presented his work with students at previous Petit Jean Performance Festivals, the Illinois Theatre Association Conference, and the St. Cloud Performance Festival. And SIU-Carbondale honored Hedrick in 2004 with an invitation to perform at its Returning Artists Program: Celebrating 40 years of Oral Interpretation and Performance Studies.
Not afraid to step outside the traditional, Hedrick has worked with the unique collaborative online performance group Underscore, and, last year presented The Precarity Project, an experimental film/performance with co-writer Dr. Jason Delgandio at the Alternative Visions: Trash/Cult/Experimental/Avant-Garde/Extreme Cinema and Television Conference at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. Along with a sequel to The Precarity Project, Hedrick is working on a solo performance of Euripides’ Medea.
Also, his poetry and performance work has been published in Liminalities, the online performance studies journal.
Each year, the Petit Jean Performance Festival takes the study of performance out of the classroom and into Petit Jean State Park, according to the festival’s website www.comm.unt.edu/courses/petijean. Co-sponsored by the University of North Texas and Capital University, the festival features noted scholars in performance studies that serve as festival leaders, guest lecturers, and group and individual performances from guest performers as well as students. The festival draws participants from Texas, New York, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Florida.