Lab Theatre presents “The Blurred Perspectives”: Seth Jackson’s semiautobiographical journey to understanding himself

Seth Jackson poses with promotional material of his play, "The Blurred Perspectives." - Photo courtesy of Vanessa Vause and Matthew Vesely

“I call it an adult version of ‘Inside Out.'”

That’s how senior theater major Seth Jackson describes “The Blurred Perspectives,” the play most recently performed by Rowan Lab Theatre group on Oct. 4, 5 and 6. It’s an important story to Jackson, and not only because he both penned the script and directed each scene – it’s also a story based off many of his own experiences.

Employing prose-poetry dialogue, interpretative dance and lighting effects, “Perspectives” details the lives of five characters as influenced by “The Knowing One,” played by sophomore acting and directing and radio, television and film double major Matthew Zupancic, an invisible omnipotent entity seeking a human form. Each character represents a facet of Jackson’s own personality: hopeless romantic Brandon (sophomore theatre major Tyler Jon), naïve Nadia (freshman theatre major Natalie Mullanaphy), violently angry Eddie (senior theatre major Guy Rose), deceitful Beverly (freshman pre-teaching theatre major Tyler Jacobs) and an innocent victim known simply as “The Woman” (freshman theatre major Delaney Molnar). By the end of the performance, all are forced to contend with harsh reality, rather than continue lying to themselves about their own realities.

“If these different personalities were to interact,” he wondered, “how do they eventually come together to complete one human being?”

That question became the allegory for Jackson to navigate the complexities and contradictions of his own self. In it, he created a play which details what he describes as a tough time in his life – one which he hopes his work can inspire others to overcome as he has.

“Writing this play started out as therapy for me,” he explained. “I wrote this show for myself. I spent the summer of 2016 writing this show, and it took me three months which was almost the whole summer. To have [my emotions at this time] all documented was kind of a way for me to understand myself – like why am I able to feel this kind of emotion in this time in this moment, and then in the next moment I’m feeling this way? It’s very weird, it’s very weird and very aggressive and very sad, but then it’s all me. It was a way for me to clarify everything.”

The character of The Knowing One, in particular, highlights the inevitability of reality.

“You can’t escape from it,” Jackson said. “No matter how many times you try to put positivity in, the negativity always comes back. It’s always there.”

Since first writing “Perspectives” over two years ago, though, Jackson has found that his own perspective on life has changed, due at least in part to the process of turning it into a stage production.

“I’m definitely not in the same head-space I was in when I wrote it,” he said, laughing. “Having gotten the opportunity to direct this show, and put it on, and talk to my actors about the characters and have the actors discover their characters and find their own similarities and their own issues that connect – in doing that, I’ve found out things about myself that I have never known. I’m at peace with a lot of things about myself that I haven’t been before. It’s a nice feeling and I hope I can share that with people.”

Even though this work began as a personal project, Jackson also believed that his ouvre held potential for others to relate to it, as well.

“I realized that there was a lot of material in the show that I felt that people could relate to a lot, like things that everyone goes through. It’s really hard existing in the world, because you exist by yourself.”

This is not Jackson’s first experience in the director’s chair. As a high school senior, he’d written, directed and performed in “Away From Evil,” a one-man show where Jackson performed as two different characters coming to terms with a classmate’s suicide. That play, too, explored Jackson’s own experiences of being a Baltimore native and fearing unacceptance as a closeted queer teen within the black Christian church.

“I definitely got the okay to be weird [at Rowan] and to be out there and to be confident in being that and doing that,” Jackson said of his involvement with the Theatre Department. “At Rowan’s Theatre and Dance Department, we do a lot of weird stuff, but for the most part, they teach us to not just be weird, but to do it for a reason. I like to think and I like to hope that nothing in that show was said or done for no reason.”

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