gmhTODAY 14 gmhToday May June 2017 | Page 95

L ike most actors and performers in our South Bay Area theater circles, Jason Harris started acting when he was in school. But unlike his peers, Jason’s first performance was in a 5 th grade production of “A Christmas Carol” put on at WirraBirra primary school in Perth, Western Australia in 1979. “I played the ghost of Christmas Present,” said Harris. “None of us could really project, so they pre-recorded us and we mimed it while we did the performance. This was easy in my case because I had a hood made from a sheet over my head. Nobody could see my face. All I had to so was walk about and gesture at Tiny Tim.” Other than that his earlier thespian performances mostly involved him dressing up in drag and singing John Denver songs for the family. Several of his relatives performed in one way or another so he feels that he had a natural genetic predisposition towards performing. When Harris moved, by himself, to the US in the early ‘90s, he felt that he was not a very social person, but acting was one of things he liked doing that involved being with other people. So he started performing in theater because he liked it, and it provided a social outlet. Harris added, “That’s a long winded way of saying I did it to meet women. Hey it worked! I met my wife in a show.” Over the years Harris has performed in approximately 23 different plays and has performed on the stages of San Jose City College, Stage One in Newark, Lyric Theater San Jose, San Benito Stage Company, Limelight Actors Theater and Pintello Comedy Theater in Gilroy, as well as South Valley Civic Theater in Morgan Hill. Among his favorite roles he includes Fagin in “Oliver!” He enjoyed the role because as he described Fagin “He’s not a nice person, but he’s not mean. He’s kind in his own self-serving way. The audience loves him, and is ultimately sympathetic towards his pathetic fate.” Another enjoyable role was as Applegate (A.K.A. the Devil) in “Damn Yankees.” “It’s the old old story of the Devil being beaten at his own game by a good man. It’s Faust with baseball, and who doesn’t dream of inflict- ing mass misery on the world?” Recently at Limelight Actors Theater he played Saunders in “Lend Me a Tenor.” “That man is an over-caffeinated manic depressive nut job. You can cry, scream and laugh manically in that role. It’s very therapeutic.” I asked him what it was he liked best about being on stage in front of an audience. His reply was that they say runners run because their brains produce natural drugs and they have become addicted to them and that it could well be the same for actors — adrenalin produced from stage fright, followed by the warm endorphins released by a sympathetic audience response. But it was this quote of his that sums it up quite nicely: “Stage perfor- mance offers a psychological catharsis, both for the actor and the audi- ence. Done well, acting becomes its own unique flow of performance and transcends a mere set of actions. It’s fun and satisfying when the