By Joey McWilliams
Not all acting jobs come quickly. But for Jarrett Self, the summer has been pretty full.
He graduated from Southeastern in May with a bachelor’s degree in musical theatre. That was followed by another summer working with the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival.
This week, he received an opportunity to continue his acting career with a renowned national group.
Self has accepted a contract with the National Theatre for Children in Minneapolis, Minn.
A graduate of Coalgate High School (Class of 2013), Self has been singing throughout his life, but acting is something that he has grown in more recently.
“I did plays in high school for fun,” Self said. “And didn’t really think I’d do anything much with it. But when I came to college, I just kind of fell back into it doing productions with Southeastern and just realized that I couldn’t really see myself doing anything else so I just decided to make that my major and I haven’t stopped doing it since.”
The National Theatre for Children has been in business since 1978 and is described on its website as helping educators inspire and prepare the next generation of scientists, artists, thinkers, pioneers and world citizens by providing free curriculum and performances to schools all over the country.
“It’s a touring children’s company,” Self said. “I will have one partner. We will have about a week of rehearsing where we’ll put the show on its feet. And then right after that, we’ll pretty much immediately go out and start touring and take it around to elementary schools all around the region, going around and performing it for as many kids as we can.
“It’s a two-person show. I received the script Tuesday and it looks like I will be playing five different characters in this one show.”
Self went to the United Professional Theatre Audition in February and the National Theatre for Children was one of the theatre companies represented there.
“They liked my initial audition there and decided to have me come back for a callback. Apparently I did well enough and they thought I’d be a good fit that they sent me a contract to come and work for them. It all fell into place.”
Self was one of 200-300 to audition on that particular day.
“It was my first experience there, but I was very fortunate to have Riley (Coker) there to talk me through everything. She also allowed me to come a day early so I could watch and see how everything worked. I was able to really get a feel for everything that was going to go on.”
Coker is the producing director for the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival.
“The National Theatre for Children is a nationally acclaimed theatre that travels all over the United State teaching kids about safety through the arts,” Coker said. “Jarrett joins a small group of Southeastern and OSF alumni who have worked for this amazing company.
“Jarrett is especially suited for this job because it utilizes his acting talents with his love of teaching kids. He was an amazing teacher with OSF’s Children’s Theatre Workshop and helped inspire our younger generation to love the arts.
“Working with NTC will allow him to see the country while using his talents to educate kids.”
His contract runs through the end of October, but he said he knows with theatre companies like this, one contract can turn into several if the company likes the performer and he does a good job.
As for long-term goals, Self said he didn’t have any specific plans.
“Sometimes you are super-blessed and fortunate to get a job with a great company like I have, but sometimes you go through a dry spell and work is hard to find and you have to maybe do something else to pay the bills for a little bit,” Self said.
“But my goal is to keep performing and to get as much experience as possible and to continue to grow and learn more about what I love doing and if I’m able to eventually make it to New York or Los Angeles one day, then that will be great. And until then I’m just going to enjoy what I’m given.”
Self leaves for his new job on Sept. 9.