Jason Karasev is a 2008/2009 Ovation Nominee in the Acting Ensemble category for his performance in MERCURY FUR at Needtheatre.
If you’d like to add a congratulatory message for Jason (or any other Nominee or Nominated Company), to the Ovation Awards commemorative poster (distributed to all nominees and all attendees at the Ceremony), click here!
As an Ovation Award Nominee, LA Stage asked Jason the following questions:
What was the moment that first inspired you to pursue working in the theatre?
The first moment that inspired me to pursue working in theatre was when I was in the seventh grade and and payed little to no attention to my work- and rather focused my energy on making those around me laugh or laugh at the teacher. I finally took an English class with a teacher, Ms. Conrad, who encouraged my sense of humor and rough form of “improv”.Â She showed me that there was an actual venue for which my kind of “work” was actually desired! Of course I resisted trying out for the school play, but when I lacked the necessary basketball skills (height) to make our Jr. High team full of seeming giants, I did try out for her play and got a role that let me make others laugh a couple nights a week during an appropriate time. It was really the fact that I could immerse myself in the life of a character and a foreign body and lead others to feel such powerful emotions. …That and watching the Godfather…..
What do you feel made the production you were nominated for particularly successful, either overall or for you specifically?
Philip Ridley’s Mercury Fur is a beautiful piece of theatre. I think what makes any theatrical production or film or photo or piece of art “successful” is when it challenges you. And when it challenges us on many levels, then the barometer for how successful it actually is begins to rise. With Mercury Fur, Ridley challenges us on so many levels. He challenges the way we lead our everyday lives and the ramifications they could have on us or our children or our earth. He challenges our hearts to feel for characters that are not just black and white, but extremely complex and imperfect while pursuing what is innate to all of us: survival. He challenges our ears with his poetic and referential language. He also makes us think about how important our pasts are, and how they inform every moment of our present, not matter how painful or joyous. The layers and the stakes involved in the play made it one of the most beautiful and challenging pieces I have ever worked on and, because of these reasons, one of the most successful.
What project or projects are you currently working on?
Currently I am shooting small things– I recently wrapped an Indie film and some commercial spots. I am also working on a one man show and developing a web series called “The Art of Chores.”
What do you love most about theatre in Los Angeles?
Having only been out here for less than two years I can only compare the theatre scene here to Chicago, where I am from. What I love about the theatre in LA is its ability to take you by surprise. There are a few large scale productions with wonderful big name actors that are done, but with those shows we kind of have a set of expectations. What I am referring to is some of the smaller shows, much like what we had with Mercury Fur, that can come out and really make audiences moved and inspired when they were originally only going to just take a chance on the production…. Later word of mouth may spread and the show may become quite popular and successful, but its core goal was to just go out and tell an important story to whoever was willing to listen.Â I really see a bright future for small, modest theatres in Los Angeles. I hope this is the beginning of my being a part of something like that.
What’s your dream project?
I would say that my dream project would be to do a Chekhov piece all in Russian. My family is from Kiev and Russian is my first language along with English. In college I taught myself to read Russian competently enough to try to maybe tackle Chekhov’s language; I learned almost solely because I love Chekhov so much. I would really, truly love to put together a cast of Russian actors and work on Uncle Vanya or The Seagull. Maybe even take it to Russia.
Biography: A graduate of The Goodman School of Drama (BFA) and a National Arts Scholar (NFAA), Jason was born and raised in Chicago where he has performed with many great theatres including The Athenauem, The Theatre Building, The Merle Reskin, Bailiwick Repertory, Chicago Dramatists, TimeLine Theatre Company, and the Tony Award winning Victory Gardens and Steppenwolf Theatres. Jason was also fortunate enough to train at the renowned Second City under current SNL cast member Jason Sudeikis. Some of Jason’s work includes Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Wynne in Adam Raap’s Stone Cold Dead Serious, Joe Farkas in The Last Night Of Ballyhoo, and Isaac in Robert O’Hara’s Echo Boom. Recently, he has worked with Sundance in their summer laboratory through Warner Bros. Casting New York on Tarell McCraney’s play Wig Out! and appeared as Naz in the LA premiere of Mercury Fur at NeedTheatre. Jason also co-starred in the comedy pilot “The Art of Chores” and recently wrapped shooting on the Independent drama “Shoot the Moon,” set to hit the indie film circuit in November. Jason would love to thank his amazing family and friends for their support.
For a full list of Ovation nominees, or for information about the Ovation Awards Ceremony on January 11th, click here!