Jon Roberts makes LU theater history

Reid Stratton

Jonathon M.T. Roberts: one creative dude.Roberts’ most recent headline is his placement in the American College Theatre Festival national competition. His commendation comes for his sound design for the first term Lawrence production of Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale.” Roberts won the regional competition earlier this month, making him the first Lawrence student to ever achieve this victory.

The regional competition was held in Normal, Illinois, where Jon had to give a detailed presentation of his sound design, which included a 25-minute original score and music for the songs that appear in the play. College students at all levels were eligible for this competition, which means Roberts was up against graduate students from all different school sizes. His presentation at the regional competition included an interview where Roberts had to explain and defend every part of his sound design.

The national competition was held April 12-18 in Washington D.C., where Roberts went up against the sound design winners from the other seven regions. At the competition Roberts had the opportunity to meet theater bigwigs from all over the country and attend a week of workshops. At the end of the week, Roberts’ sound design placed in the top four in the nation.

Naturally, all this press makes for some great opportunities. One of the adjudicators at the regional level, Michael Dempsey, design chair of Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, encouraged Jonathon to apply for the school’s summer internship. Roberts was accepted, which means he will receive a $4,000 scholarship to work as an assistant sound designer for the summer.

But wait, there’s more.

Earlier this school year, Roberts also began his own line of merchandise. This includes items such as a calendar that features a different picture of Jonathon every day, shirts boasting designs he has made, and a full-length CD entitled “Jonathon M.T. Roberts Plays the Classics.”

“Most of my merchandise just came from conversations I had with friends,” says Roberts. “The calendar I thought of while I used to take voice lessons. I would try to sing in the mirror in the practice room, but I would get distracted and make funny faces. Then I thought, ‘Hey, I could maybe sell those faces.'”

The real root of his merchandise has nothing to do with money, though. Jonathon says, “I get a big buzz from creating new things. I love writing music, but what’s most important to me is that I’m always creating new things, and that applies to music or anything.”

After his graduation in 2005, Jonathon plans to go on the road. He has begun work on a one-person experimental performance art show based on the life and writings of the apostle Paul. Roberts’ brother and sister have collaborated on this project, and Roberts hope to do a U.S. tour of the show, selling his merchandise as he goes.

However, Roberts won’t be forgetting his friends here anytime soon. “I really like Lawrence and all of my friends here. There’s so much talent, and everybody is so generous. I don’t want to lose touch, I want to keep collaborating and keep creating with these amazing people.”

Jonathon’s website, www.jmtr.com, is just getting on its feet. His merchandise page is up and running, so go and order your J.M.T.R. product today.

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