Jared Hudson 2013
Jared Hudson has discovered that students at Bluffton are not limited by their major. "If you want to do something outside your field, you can."
Theatre was not the career path Jared Hudson expected to follow when he arrived at Bluffton University as a biology major.
But as Cincinnati’s Anderson High School had nurtured his interest in science, it had also provided ample opportunities for him in theatre. And now, with three years of stage experience at Bluffton added, the bachelor’s degree in biology he plans to receive in May 2013 will be more of a "fallback," he says, as he pursues a career in performance, possibly as a voice actor.
Hudson’s voice talents will be on display again—along with those of the castmates he’s working with as a dialect coach—in the university’s production of Tom Stoppard’s "The Real Inspector Hound."
Dr. Melissa Friesen, an associate professor and chair of communication and theatre at Bluffton, is directing a parody of Agatha Christie-like murder mysteries in which two theatre critics are swept up into the British whodunit they are supposed to be reviewing.
At Anderson—which produced at least two plays and two musicals each year—Hudson took several stage combat courses taught by the theatre director, a certified instructor. And during his junior year, he was co-dialect coach for the Irish play, "Dancing at Lughnasa," aided by a Miami (Ohio) University faculty member.
"Dialects come very naturally to me," says Hudson, who came to Bluffton because he was looking for a smaller Christian campus—"The teachers actually know your name," he notes—as well as a good science program. He had also notified Friesen of his interest in theatre, however, and as a first-year student, became a theatre assistant and the stage manager and fight choreographer for the fall play, "Bright Ideas."
It was "nice to have that leadership role backstage," recalls Hudson, who had always been a crew member but never a stage manager in high school. "You definitely get more of an opportunity to try different things" in the Bluffton theatre program, he adds, listing set construction, set painting and being a props coordinator among his other past roles.
In addition, unlike at some universities, students at Bluffton aren’t limited by their major, Hudson points out, saying that "if you want to do something outside your field, you can."
Into his sophomore year, he still thought his field might be teaching biology. But after landing the male lead in "The Glass Menagerie" that fall, "I realized that maybe acting isn’t as much of a hobby as I thought it was," but possibly a career instead, he says.
He had already been recruited to read textbooks on tape for student use—after giving a speech in his First Year Seminar course—and, getting positive feedback for his voice acting ability, Hudson started reading more about it. Among other things, his research yielded a recommendation for voice lessons, which he started last year with Dr. Crystal Sellers Battle, an assistant professor of music at Bluffton.
He also signed with a northern Kentucky-based talent agency, Katalyst, as an actor, model and voice actor. A few auditions for radio commercials didn’t pan out, but he did get a lead role in a student film at the Art Institute of Ohio in Cincinnati. Hudson plays a high school bully who boxes his younger rival for a girl’s attention in "The Good Old Days," which is filming now and, he hopes, might find its way to a film festival.
In the movie, drawing on his scientific nature and experience with shaping the way characters might carry themselves, he is trying to incorporate movements that reflect boxing. "I think I have an analytic mind, because I approach acting in a similar way," says Hudson, who is performing in his fifth Bluffton production next month and leads a student improvisational group on campus as well. "I like the thinking process involved."
He also enjoys the character development inherent to acting, including voice acting, where he sees potential not only in advertising but also in cartoons and even video games. "I enjoy voice acting because it’s a way to create characters that are far beyond what you are in real life," the aspiring actor says. "I could play an 80-year-old British butler!"
"Jared has developed into a significant leader in our theatre program," adds Friesen. "Although his campus job as a theatre assistant involves off-stage responsibilities, I've encouraged him to audition throughout his Bluffton career—his acting instincts, broad training, good humor and focused commitment have certainly enhanced our productions."