Jason Downs’ ‘Why Am I Not Famous” at Howard Community College by Bev Fleisher

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS
Jason Downs’ Why Am I Not Famous is more of a fireside chat that is breezy and entertaining as the fire is struck and grows, then deeper and reflective as the coals die down. It is also a dialogue about the futility of tying one’s self-worth to others’ opinions rather than listening to yourself and finding joy in your authentic voice, whatever that may be.

Jason Downs.
Jason Downs.

Jason Downs has a cautionary tale and encouragement for all of us. He’s sincere. He’s not preachy. He’s had experience with fame. And he is a great actor, singer and dancer. You get to see all of this in the conversation he carries out with the audience throughout the evening. His heartfelt storytelling and willingness to lay it all on the line increases his message’s impact.

My favorite examples of Downs’ fleeting fame were a SNL skit done in his young teens and “The White Boy with a Feather in His Hair,” a country/rap mash-up that topped the charts in the UK and around europe when he was barely in his 20‘s. The first half of the evening is a delightful show as Jason illustrate the things that influenced his artistic development. His back up singers and band were in the pocket with him. As the first half progressed, the boundary between performer and the audience became almost transparent. More talk, less action. The beginning of a conversation.

Downs showmanship and story was followed by an hour of conversation, not Q & A. Jason and the other artists involved in the production, including Producing Artistic Director of the Arts Collective, Susan Kramer, carried out a lively back and forth about the meaning of fame, self-esteem, expression of creativity, and guidance for youth.

The long term goal of this project is to have it performed for teens and young adults community venues to open up a conversation with young people who are used to speeches about going forth and conquering and dreams of instant fame via American Idol or The X Factor.

The point of the evening was encapsulated by Musical Director and guitarist Ken McGloin. He recalled a chat he had with Paul Simon during which the artist explained that he only wrote and played for himself; it just happened to be that other people also liked what he did.

Running Time: Two and one-half hours, including a 90 minute set and an hour-long open conversation.has one remaining performance TONIGHT, SATURDAY, October 12, 2013 at the Horowitz Center at Howard County Community College -, 1901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, MD. Tickets may be purchased at the box office, (443) 518-1500, or at the door.

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Why I am Not Famous? has one remaining performance TONIGHT -SATURDAY, October 12, 2013 at 8 PM at the Horowitz Center’s Studio Theatre at Howard County Community College – 1901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, MD. Tickets may be purchased at the box office, (443) 518-1500, or at the door.

Libation & Conversation, a discussion and question-and-answer session, follows tonight’s performance.

Tickets are $15 for general admission; $12 for seniors, military and groups; and $10 for students with ID. Tickets may be purchased through the Box Office by calling (443) 518-1500, or purchasing them online.

Jason Downs will also lead a workshop on finding the creative voice on TOMORROW Sunday, October 13, from 3 to 5 p.m. Admission to the workshop is pay-what-you-can and is open to ages 16 and up. To register, email artscollective@howardcc.edu

LINK
DCMTA’s Carolyn Keleman‘s interview with Jason Downs.