The world of Jason Woods
Several years ago I was told that I had to meet him; that if I like art, and I do, I should know Jason Woods. At the time he was directing an adaptation of Peter Pan at a church in Ponte Vedra Beach, of all places. Never one to turn down theatre, a couple of friends and I bought tickets and were blown away. The creativity, the costumes, the casting, the music, the set, every aspect of this special production was layered with a unique level of quality that exceeded mere attention to detail. After the performance, when I met Jason Woods, I knew we were, and are still, so lucky that he calls Jacksonville home. Talent of this caliber often times leaves for greener pastures, but that’s a different topic for a different article.
Since Peter Pan, I’ve been a big fan of everything Jason does. If I thought his behind-the-scenes talent was masterful, his acting is impossibly flawless. For several years he’s been captivating audiences with his one man presentation of A Christmas Carol. With a minimal set he brings to life multiple characters with seamless precision, doing Dickens justice on a scale typically left for much larger markets. This article is not to publicize A Christmas Carol, but I urge you, do not miss this year’s performance, wherever it is.
Now a Jason Woods’ groupie, I had the pleasure of hosting an informal reading for Players by the Sea’s Young Playwrights in my home; this time with Jason playing the role of critic offering feedback to high school students interested in writing for theatre. To the surprise of our small group, Jason elected to read a part of one young man’s play. He nailed the character, dialect and tone with such off-the-cuff accuracy that should this play make it beyond my living room, it will be hard to cast anyone else forever more. Is there no end to this man’s talent? Apparently not.
Jason’s most recent project takes him off the stage, sort of. Recently, he’s written a children’s book called Tinx Just Stinks and Charlie Doesn’t. Think Dr. Suess and Shel Silverstein and add Jason’s name to that prestigious list. Wisely capitalizing on a topic that every kid can appreciate, flatulence, Jason rhymes his way to a timely lesson of acceptance and self-love. When he called me one day to ask about a venue and audience for him to test his theory that children of all ages would love this story, I arranged for a small group at the beach. With kids sitting on the floor, and parents happy for an hour or two of occupied energy, Jason took the stage in a familiar three-piece suit and a smile. The first order of business was to grab their attention, and did he ever! Through the animated telling of a fast and backwards-talking fairy tale all fidgeting and squirming stopped while the children heard the strangely familiar story of Rindercella. If this was any indication of how the main event was going to go, this small group was in for a big surprise.
As Jason settled into every parent’s I’m-going-to-read-a-book-now chair, a monitor to show the exquisite illustrations by Megan Lawson at his side, he begins, “I know a dragon of stupendous acclaim; his smile is contagious, and Charlie’s his name.” Jaunty rhyming and melodic verse introduce the main draw … ”Dragons are known for the FIRE they produce, the WINGS they flap, and the FEAR they induce. But they also contain an array of GASSES, and Charlie is famous for the kind he passes.” Turns out that Charlie leaves a room filled with the sweet smell of freshly baked cookies when he, ahem, toots, while his rival, Tinx, just stinks of rotten eggs and worn-all-day socks. A jealous Tinx challenges Charlie to a gassy duel with plans to beat the heat through cheating. The lesson here is that cheaters never win, and sometimes they land in the hospital with a tummy ache. An ever valiant, likeable Charlie demonstrates kindness for Tinx and visits him for comfort, showing Tinx the path to self-acceptance and happiness. All this culminates in a moral that promotes anti-bullying and social-emotional awareness, while also encouraging an opportunity for expanded vocabulary that kids and adults seem to love.
To get this book published, Jason took a familiar route and launched a Kickstarter campaign. All his pre-launch activities paid off with the book being fully funded in the first forty-five minutes, and his stretch goal was surpassed in the days that followed. With his first book behind him, what could be next, you ask? Nothing Jason Woods conceives would surprise me. I don’t know … maybe a board game. Now that would be something out of the ordinary.
By Lisa Goodrich