Growing up with theatre is the key to fostering creativity, communication, emotional awareness, work ethic, and so much more in our youth. When speaking with Jordan Crawford, our May Volunteer of the Month, she revealed the impact The Naples Players (TNP) has had on her growing up in our community, and how it has shaped her future.
Village School senior Jordan Crawford has grown up “living and breathing the arts” in several forms at TNP. Throughout the years, Crawford’s main focus has been performance. However, with over 650 volunteer hours this season, Jordan expanded her knowledge beyond the stage and volunteered as an assistant stage manager, KidzAct teaching assistant, scenic builder, backstage crew, and was one of the longest-serving volunteers at our groundbreaking event. “Over time I realized there’s nothing else I can do – this is the place where I feel comfortable, safe, and the happiest version of myself. I was just drawn to it and there is nothing else that makes me as happy as being at the theater does.”
Crawford started with our KidzAct program in 2017 starring as Junie B. in Junie B. Jones JR. “I never imagined myself doing theatre this long or falling in love with it. Every show has a moment that all the hard work was for – where you feel yourself and you’re so in it, you just black out. It’s such a surreal feeling. It makes you feel alive and out of this world. You don’t get that anywhere else.”
Jordan’s interest in the backstage operations of a show began in 2018 when she participated in a Leadership Team Management program that showed the behind-the-scenes operations of scenic design, lights and sound, props, stage management, and costume design. “I was even happy to do the janitor stuff!”
When given the opportunity to volunteer as an assistant stage manager, Jordan “actually didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I loved getting there early when no one was there. The other stage managers and I would jam to the pre-show lights and music. We became as much of a family backstage as I’d experienced being on stage.” Learning to switch gears was the most difficult part for Crawford. “I loved it. I’d do it again, but it was hard not focusing on the performance, and instead focusing on making the performance happen. I had to switch my mind and learn how to write blocking down, code words, and how to do the flies and cues. It was really interesting; you see everything and how it works and pieces together. You get a full understanding of what’s happening around you and you have a much greater appreciation for everyone involved.”
Jordan is still shocked by how much she’s changed over the years because of TNP. “It’s crazy- this is a community theater and I’ve learned so much from it. If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have grown this much. I learned something from every teacher and mentor I’ve had. I’ve learned how to treat and understand people and create a family and a safe environment. It’s life-changing having this community. No matter what you’re going through, you have a home here, and that’s something that not everyone experiences in their life.”
When asked about her future, Crawford confidently answered that she’s just getting started – more bright lights and performances are ahead. “Nothing has ever made me as excited as pursuing musical theatre. This makes me happy, feel like myself, and makes me feel like I’m actually living the way I should be.” Jordan is excited to keep exploring the arts and finding her path, “I’d love to learn more about lighting and what goes into making props and costume design. It’s so interesting how everything is made specifically for one show. I’m also working with kids helping to teach musical theatre skill classes to younger students. I could see myself having more fun making up choreography and directing in the future.”
Jordan is grateful to have grown up in this community. “It’s going to sound cliche, but The Naples Players really is a home away from home for me. It’s such a safe, open environment. Everyone here…I love them, they love me. There are no bad feelings here. Everyone’s got your back and you feel really comfortable and accepted no matter what you’re going through. TNP to me means family and everyone being there for you.”
Thank you, Jordan, for allowing The Naples Players to be a part of your story, and for being such a critical part of ours!
We love to get new volunteers into the mix! If you’re new to the area or just new to volunteering at TNP, don’t hesitate to join the fun. Test your skills at the next audition or contact Pamela Larkin Caruso today at 239-434-7340 ext. 104 to find out what other opportunities there are backstage and front of house!
By Jillian Keith
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