by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
Theatre Tallahassee rolls the 20-sided die on a Dungeons & Dragons take on William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” with Jack Jammer as the set master with a production that opened Jan. 19 and runs through Feb. 5.
Shakespeare’s words create a world of mystique and allure in “The Tempest,” reminding us that “we are such stuff as dreams are made on.” Jammer, a theater designer in Tallahassee, expands that energy of fantastical existentialism to transport the magic Shakespeare writes on the page onto the stage with a mouse click.
Even before his digital drawing days, Jammer built with a theatrical flair in his backyard, along with his father and homeschooling cohort.
“My dad was a carpenter. He was an aircraft mechanic. I don’t remember not building,” says Jammer. “I was homeschooled … Growing up, we made movies in the backyard, and we started writing our own scripts, and [making] our own costumes, and [discovering] our own production values.”
Jammer’s appreciation for structure and beauty led him to study architecture at Florida A&M University. He fell in love with architecture’s ability to tell a story with and through space.
Since then, he has evolved into the theater world, where he finds the “in-your-face” storytelling approach even more intriguing. Jammer argues that is what influences his set designs. He aims for the audience to feel moved when they first see his pieces and then leave remembering a part of his creation that continuously feeds that feeling.
Jammer has catapulted into the Tallahassee theater scene as the current Production Manager for the Quincy Theatre and as a set designer for Theatre Tallahassee. Jammer began as a backstage crew member for “Moon Over Buffalo” and has since served as an actor and set designer for many productions at Tallahassee Theatre and Quincy Theatre, including “SpongeBob the Musical” and “Sunday in the Park with George.” Jammer has had the opportunity to learn on the job and grow with the organizations he creates with.
According to Jammer, this style of working and learning allows him to create raw and connected set pieces like the set of “The Tempest.”
Jammer begins with transitions and ends with a conversation between he and the director. He then creates thumbnail sketches that help capture the feel and artistic aesthetic the director envisions. As in his recent set, Jammer prides himself on pushing design into the unexpected. He draws on his inspiration from the hard lines of German Expressionism and the fantastical elements of Dungeons and Dragons.
Once he has all the pieces lined up, he adds color and texture, checks in with the director, and sends it to build, like a chef serving up something fresh and new. “I have different kinds of ideas,” says Jammer. “Your art design needs to be sexy, and it needs to be sound. If it’s neither of those two things, then there’s something wrong with your design. It’s got to be both.”
The shipwreck-inspired set Jammer created certainly encapsulates both ideas.
“I wanted to create a kind of ruin…a tangle of spar and mass, a mountain of line and wood, a prison of bar and beam. It’s just like an absolute mish-mash of elements on stage that can become the parts that are required for the show.”
Jammer bends metal to sail Shakespeare’s characters into a modern fantastical world sure to enhance Theatre Tallahassee’s production of “The Tempest.”
Read the article on the Tallahassee Democrat.
Learn more information about Theatre Tallahassee’s production of The Tempest.