Jeff Doornbos '89
After I left Calvin, I went to SMU in Dallas in their MFA program. After my first year there, I decided that the program wasn't for me, so I moved to Chicago where I performed at Steppenwolf and many other Chicago theatre companies. I then made the decision to go back into a professional training program, and went to New York to study at Circle in the Square Theatre School. Immediately following that program, I went to the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and then returned to New York to get cast in Blue Man Group. I performed as a Blue Man for two years, and then transitioned into a directorial and creative development role with the company, while still appearing as a Blue Man on television shows like "The Tonight Show," "The Today Show," & "Arrested Development." During my time there I also wrote and directed three award winning short films, and performed in plays and musicals in New York, at places like The York, La Mama, and 42nd Street Theatres, along with appearances in features, and on "Law & Order," "Guiding Light," & "As The World Turns." . I am now living in Los Angeles, auditioning for film and television (recently recurring on "Private Practice," and appearing on "Criminal Minds") and running Alpha Rat Productions, with whom I am developing two features, and three webisode series. I am currently performing in "Rabbit Hole" with Katharine Ross ("Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid," "The Graduate"), dir. by Graeme Clifford ("Frances," "Gleaming the Cube").
After a recent performance, a woman came up to me and told me of a very difficult situation with which she is wrestling, and said she felt "a little healed" by the play. To me, this is what art in general has the capacity to do. It instills a sense of community and compassion. A sense that we're all in this human journey together. Classic mythologies were not commonly built around happy people in happy situations. They were about human beings struggling with their mortality, in the face of the eternal. And through these classic mythologies, and modern classics, art is able to connect us more deeply to our humanity, which is flawed, and imperfect, and yet the recipient of divine redemption. As an actor & writer, I have the privilege and responsibility of portraying humans behaving humanly, with authenticity and without judgement: some learning, some not learning as quickly, but all of them God's creatures. All of them subject to God's grace. All of them "a little healed."
Calvin highlights for me would include portraying Buddy in "Diviners," Azdak in "The Caucasian Chalk Circle," Jack Rover in "Wild Oats," MC'ing Freshmen talent night with the late Greg Van Mersebergen, Air Band (it's still happening!), the encouragement of amazing Profs Korf, Leugs, Vanden Berg, & the late Ervina Boeve, frizbee on the commons in the Spring when I probably should have been in class, and, of course, spraying artichokes with gold spray paint at 3AM. Smorg. Long live Smorg.
Advice for aspiring actors
A life in theatre/film/TV is completely possible, and has the power to heal and point us toward redemption. It is vital and important. AND, it is a business. Study your art, and then learn as much as you can about the industry. Develop your "brand" (this is sadly lacking in almost all theatre training programs). Study the mental attitudes and work ethics of professional athletes, and Fortune 500 CEOs. When you hear the word "No," don't take it personally. It's a 60 year career... not a 6 year career.