On Stage

Smooth Jazz

Beyond the classroom at Back2Bellingham

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Typically, it isn’t until graduation day has come and gone that college students see the rewards of their years of studies come to fruition.

That wasn’t the case for Teague Parker, a Western Washington University senior whose play, Smooth, Smooth Jazz, garnered him a Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region VII award for best play in December 2015.

And although Parker will still be a student when Smooth, Smooth Jazz shows May 11-12 at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, and May 19-21 at WWU’s Old Main Theater as part of Back2Bellingham, it’s clear the playwright, actor and improviser has a bright future ahead of him once his degree is handed over.

The path to bringing Parker’s dark comedy about a man who discovers his wife of two decades has cheated on him and hires a wannabe thug to kill him in front of his philandering partner is a circuitous one that shows what it takes to be a star student—not just in college, but also in life.

In addition to writing the play, acting in it and getting valuable assistance from other students to help him direct and produce it, Parker also started a GoFundMe account so that the show at the Old Main Theater could be produced. With an ask of $1,000 for props, set pieces, publicity funds and costuming, it also became possible to offer the Old Main shows for free.

“It’s one thing to put on a show that people enjoy,” Parker writes on the fundraising site. “It’s another to make a production that people experience, and that is our dream.”

Also worth mentioning is the performances of Smooth, Smooth Jazz aren’t the only ways to see Parker onstage in the coming days. When he’s not exploring issues of relationships and stereotypes, he’s a member of Western’s award-winning comedy improv troupe, the Dead Parrots Society, who have a lineup of performances at Back2Bellingham.

For that matter, the three days comprising Back2Bellingham—Western Washington University’s annual reunion weekend for alumni, families, students, faculty, staff and the community—will be full of ways to experience the best the college has to offer.

Among the tours, live music, educational discussions, recreational outings, networking opportunities, art exhibits and reunions happening on campus and beyond are theatrical events that will bring attention to the ways those studying theater at WWU are furthering their educations.

In addition to the aforementioned events, highlights include a 1940s-era Mystery Dinner Night hosted by Viking Radio Theatre (May 19); entertainment during the Red Square Carnival (May 20); and the Action Performance Festival, which features short, politically inspired visions among the school’s famous outdoor sculptures (also May 20).

Whether you choose to be in attendance at Smooth, Smooth Jazz or exploring other opportunities via one of the 100-plus events at Back2Bellingham, know that your support counts. After all, today’s award-winning theater students might be tomorrow’s Tony Award winners.

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