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[Image description: The Projects with Jason logo and website above the words "September 2020 Newsletter, Welcome" on a background of brush strokes. Below is a photo of J. Jason Daunter, the Founder and Artistic Director of Projects with Jason. End image description.]
[Image description: A welcome letter. Contents of letter as follows, "WOW! It isn’t very often that I am at a loss for words, but the past seven months have been a rollercoaster ride, to say the least. And the ride continues. It feels like a coaster ride inside, and in the dark. You have no idea where the next turn or dip is going to come from. Then, all of a sudden, you are slowly ascending once again, knowing that if it goes up, it must come down. One second you are screaming with joy, then fear, and then laughing nervously as the free fall drop is always inevitable. All the while knowing that eventually the ride will end… When will this ride end? On March 27, 2020 with a laptop, two friends, a committed and trusting educator, and several talented students from San Juan Hills High School in California, I took to the internet with a show called Virtual Cabaret. A show that celebrated the power of theatre education and brought forward talented students to tell their stories and celebrate the educators who help them make those stories. Lesley McKinnell, a professional actress and longtime friend, brought the house down with two performances and was even surprised by her high school theatre teacher and education legend, Gai Jones. People tuned in and we made the closest thing to a real-life connection that we could in the early days of this thing called “shelter in place”. That first show finished and, as I was celebrating with pizza, my phone was lighting up with text messages from dear friends and collaborators asking if they could get involved with the next show and how could they help. I remember thinking “Am I doing this? Is there a next show? Am I going to take this leap and head into the unknown?” Obviously, I jumped, taking over a dozen others with me, and the Projects with Jason Team as you see it today was born! Over 30 shows later here we are! I am so pleased to welcome you to the PwJ family! I cannot thank you enough for supporting the work we are doing here. We all believe in this mission and in giving back. As I have said a million times or more, and will continue to say, I would not physically still be here today were it not for high school theatre! Theatre Saves! We have lots in store for this monthly newsletter and great features that will hopefully bring you some joy, encouragement, a peek behind the curtain, and ways to feel connected to this art form we all cherish. So… no, the ride is not over yet. And we don’t know what’s coming! It could have three more hills, two more corkscrew turns, and possibly a water tsunami before it officially pulls back into the station. However, we are all on the same ride, with our lap bars down and at least one supportive friend sitting close by to tell us, “It will be ok”. So, take a breath, scream if you need to, but then let’s move on and focus on something we can control. Let’s focus on making needed change, making a difference, and showing that the power of the arts can, and will, change hearts, minds, and YES continue to save lives. Into the unknown indeed! Until Next Time, J. Jason Daunter Projects with Jason Founder/Artistic Director" end of letter. End image description.]

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[Image description: logo design for the short play Distance Learning, written by Carey Crim. The play title, "Distance Learning," is on the screen of a laptop, made to look like part of a video conference call on Zoom. The phrase "Connection through Disconnection" is shown on the keyboard of the laptop. End image description]

10 students meet with their English Teacher via Zoom for online learning during the pandemic. Though lonely and isolated, they find solace and connection in one another even through their disconnection. When one student doesn’t show up for class, a secret is revealed and his friends and teacher worry for his safety.  A play about actions and consequences, the difficulty of doing the right thing, and the realization that sometimes all we need is for someone to listen to us.

For more information, and to get involved in producing Distance Learning, please e-mail


Artist-in-Residence & commissioned playwright for Projects with Jason

[Image Description: photo of playwright Carey Crim. End Image Description]

Photo of: Carey Crim

Carey Crim is an East Coast based playwright and resident artist at the Purple Rose Theatre Company. Her play Never Not Once was the winner of the 2017 Jane Chambers award and a finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. It opened to critical acclaim at The Purple Rose Theater and went on to Theatre Aquarius in Ontario, The Rubicon Theatre in Los Angeles, and was scheduled to open at The Park Theatre in London before the shutdown. Conviction premiered at Bay Street Theatre starring Sarah Paulson, Garret Dillahunt and Elizabeth Reaser. It then opened at The Rubicon Theatre and was nominated for an Ovation award for best new play.

Her earlier works, Growing Pretty, Wake, and Some Couples May… all received world premieres at The Purple Rose Theatre Company. Wake had a West Coast Premiere at the SeaGlass Theatre in Los Angeles where it was a critic’s pick. Carey adapted it for the screen, and the feature film, starring Jo Koy, James Denton, and Myndy Crist, has won numerous festival awards and was released October 8th. It is currently available on Amazon Prime. Her play Morning After Grace ran to sold out houses at The Purple Rose Theatre Company starring Randolph (Randy) Mantooth. It went on to Asolo Repertory Theatre, The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Shakespeare and Company, The Barter Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, and is slated for many more. Paint Night will open at The Purple Rose as soon as we are able to gather together again. The Last Broadcast was recently seen in Urbanite Theatre’s Modern Works Festival in Sarasota, Florida.

Carey is a three-time finalist for Miami City Theater’s short play competition and won the competition in 2011. She has been a finalist for The Heideman award and a three-time finalist in the Samuel French OOB festival. Carey is a graduate of Northwestern University.



[Image Description: photo of Projects with Jason Production Education Team Member Gai Laing Jones, author of the article entitled "Self-Care for Us, Theatre Educators." End image description]
Photo of: Gai Laing Jones

Self-Care for Us, Theatre Educators
By Gai Laing Jones
Projects with Jason Production Education Team Member
 Cliché Quotes That Should Be Retired:
“You have to look through the rain to see the rainbow.”
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”
 “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
“It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.”
 “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”What we need right now is not platitudes but manageable objectives that we can achieve in this time of creating new curriculum for distance and/or hybrid learning. And how to self-care, not only teaching my students how to take care for themselves during this challenging time but learning to care for myself. How about carving out time for me? How do I do that without adding more to my already challenging day?The worst scenarios I have heard:

  • After my first day of teaching online, I went to bed at 7:30 pm. Then I had to get up at 11 pm to see which student checked in to get credit for the day. So schools can get their ADA.
  • Last night. The exhaustion is real. Not sure which is the most exhausting part; the mask for 7 hours in a row, the kids in class & on the screen at the same time needing two different teaching styles at the same time, dealing with technology issues, or just the normal back to school start. It’s. A. Lot. 
  • The unanswered questions and incomplete info are getting to me.
  • I was going at 100%, then it was a sudden – close my computer, turn off office lights, changed my clothes and went for a run. I guess my body told me what it needed… before totally crashing in bed!
  • I tried really hard to do my class expectations, but, well.. I feel like it’s best to mark everything “draft” that we distribute this year, that would make it feel more accurate – and like I’m getting somewhere!
  • I literally paused my video and put my head down in a zoom mtg. I couldn’t stop crying.
  • I had 2 screens set up and one fell and broke during a class. I was frozen with fear. I didn’t know how to solve it. I would have been able to handle it if we were in person and a kid did that. I would be able to help them. I could not help myself.
  • All I want to do is eat and sleep. Make this all go away.
Journey to Self-Care
The definition of self-care is any action that you use to improve your health and well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Illness (NAMI), there are six elements to self-care: (1) Physical, (2) Psychological, (3) Emotional, (4) Spiritual, (5) Social, and (6) Professional.Ideally, a healthy self-care strategy should include an activity that addresses each of these factors every day. That way, you can make sure that every element of your overall health and well-being is taken care of. Self-care activities can be small- to large-scale habits, with examples ranging from packing a healthy lunch to waking up early every day to do a short mediation before work. When left unchecked, teacher stress can lead to burnout and contribute to the high turnover rate in education. But self-care can turn this around and help keep teachers from getting burned out.I applaud you; I honor and respect you for doing what you do. My license plate says APLS4U; the holder says “Every Day You Deserve a Round of Applause.” I often see people in my rear-view mirror applauding. It is a bit concerning to see no hands on steering wheel, so I applaud them back and steer clear. Try starting your day by giving yourself applause. Look in a mirror and applaud. Blow kisses, thank everyone who ever encouraged you. Give the Tony Award speech of your life. Each day, accept a virtual award for just being you.



[Image Description: Details regarding the various Patreon Levels one can join to support Projects with Jason. These monthly pricing options vary from $5/month to $40/month, and can fit your financial situation as needed. For more information, please click on the button below to direct you to our Patreon page, which details all the same information. End image description.].
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[Image Description: Details on the Back to School Special Pricing- a yearly pricing option for those who want to only pay once per year. Please click the button below to e-mail us for more details on this special deal. End image description]
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Projects with Jason’s first professional guest and friend, Lesley McKinnell, appeared on our first Virtual Cabaret in March 2020.  Enjoy this incredible performance of a collaboration of two songs of hope with PwJ’s Musical Supervisor, Jason Yarcho on piano.


[Image Description: photo of Projects with Jason Team Member/Host of Tech Table KC Wilkerson, author of the article entitled, "Finding My Light." End image description.]
Photo of: KC Wilkerson

Finding My Light
By KC Wilkerson
Projects with Jason Team Member, Host of Tech Table
I get a lot of questions about my current job so let’s start there. I’m the principal lighting designer for Disney Parks Live Entertainment at the Disneyland Resort. My role consists primarily of three parts:
  • I oversee the creative implementation of lighting and visual effects (including lasers, fountains, fire, and atmospherics) by providing leadership for my team. Together, we design, implement, and program creative visual elements for shows, parades, and projects in California and Hawaii.
  • I provide creative direction for our fireworks program, overseeing all of the creative elements for the seven different shows we perform.  
  • I design projects. If you’ve been to Disneyland in the last 10 years, you’ve seen my work or the work of my talented design team.
My theatre career didn’t start at Disneyland, though. It began with a passion for music, art, and architecture.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock star (always a great career plan). My parents gave me an electric guitar for Christmas one year, and I tried to teach myself to play but I was undisciplined. I eventually abandoned it because I realized I didn’t have a passion for playing music – the passion was for listening to music, collecting records, and going to see concerts.
My second passion was art. I dove deep into art classes and as I learned more, my passion for art and artists grew and I found myself expressing things I couldn’t say in words. There was, however, the nagging realization that while I was deeply passionate about art I couldn’t see it as a career.
Then there was architecture. From an early age, I was always trying to figure out how things were built. In junior high I took drafting classes which taught me how to be intentional and precise. I took Shop which taught me how to build what I had drafted. However, I had significant struggles with math and without math, architecture would not be possible.
What I realized, years later, was the common bond between my passions involved the act of creating. Art, music, and architecture were the manifestation of my core desire: to be creative. I had no idea how what to do with that much less how to turn it into a career. Then, in high school, a friend of mine who knew my art background asked if I wanted to come to a “paint party” in the school auditorium to paint the set for their upcoming show. I showed up and almost immediately realized I loved the inclusive, creative environment. I hadn’t previously experienced that camaraderie, that shared sense of purpose. It wasn’t about the set, or the acting, or the lights; it was about all of us working together towards something bigger.
I can’t write something about my career path and not acknowledge two specific teachers who were instrumental in connecting me to my creativity.
In addition to introducing me to design principles, art teacher Martha Doyal pushed me. Her simple demand was “show up to the canvas”.  She forced me to challenge myself. She insisted that I not allow anyone to place limitations on me. Perhaps most importantly she inspired me to kill my excuses. Those are eternal lessons that I use nearly every day of my life.
As my first theatre director, Ken Dyess taught me the power of elevation. The idea that there is a bigger picture, that it was important to understand that picture, and the only way to see it all is to get out of the weeds. He gave me the opportunity to use my passions and skills by designing sets. He was the one that connected the dots and pointed me down the road to becoming a set designer.
The summer I graduated, I went to see The Police in concert. There, I saw moving lights (which were in their infancy) for the first time. It was magic as far as I was concerned and I fell hopelessly in love with light. In retrospect, it’s still surprising to me how one experience can crystallize everything and shoot lightning bolts deep into your core and fundamentally change your life. After that night, I no longer wanted to be a set designer.
So off to college I go, and since I was a scholarship recipient I was required to audition for all of the shows. Much to my dismay, I got cast. The more time I spent onstage, the more convinced I was that I wanted to be backstage. My college years were filled with design work, acting in shows, and being on stage crews.
After graduation, I bounced around the local theater scene in Houston (where I was living at the time) taking the typical odd jobs just to make ends meet. I had the opportunity to move to southern California with my family. I worked in many small theatres, and even though there were more gigs it was still tough to make a living. Then, on a whim, I applied for a summer job at Disneyland.
After a year or so, I was getting opportunities and enjoying the working environment. One of those opportunities was a series of promotional tours which allowed me to travel across the U.S. and Europe over a span of three years. In those short three years, I rose from being a tech to crew chief to technical director. While being on tour is exciting, it’s also exhausting so I decided to come back home and put down roots.
Returning back to the park, I began to seek out other opportunities. I said “yes” to everything, including an offer to be assistant technical director for a new Disneyland fireworks show. It was there that I fell in love with larger-than-life spectaculars. It was (and continues to be) great fun working at such a grand scale. That show was a huge hit and shortly afterward I was offered a job as one of Disneyland’s technical directors.
You’re thinking, “Wait, why are you a TD? Didn’t you want to be a designer?” The answer is yes, but one of the most important lessons I have ever learned is that the path isn’t straight. It includes curves and dips, each one of which contains opportunities. At the time, the company did not have design roles within the organization and being a TD was the closest I could get.
Once I was a TD, I realized I could do some of the design work myself. I began doing larger projects where I was fulfilling both the TD and the design role. That got the attention of my leadership and over the course of the next several years, my role evolved to include more design work. When the company restructured our organization about 10 years ago, they created new positions and I was moved into the lighting design role. I am now part of a larger group of designers (lighting, audio, video, show control) and technical directors.
I’ve also continued to work in theater, designing lighting and projection for a variety of shows (and picking up a slew of design awards), in addition to corporate work and museums. Along the way, I discovered that I love sharing what I’ve learned with students so I’ve participated in the California Thespian Festival and the International Thespian Festival; conducting workshops and mentoring design students. With Disney Performing Arts, I’ve developed a series of technical theatre workshops that allow students a peek behind the curtain to see how we create some of the magic they see in Disney parks. I’ve given keynote addresses to students and spoken with teachers around the country about the arts, creativity, and design. I love doing all of those things but nothing really eclipses the moments I can stand in front of a new rig and see it light up for the first time. After 38 years in this business, it’s the one thing that makes me feel like I’m in high-school again; and it never ceases to bring up a sense of wonder and give me the feeling of so many possibilities waiting to be realized.



Thank you to Projects with Jason Members:
Jamie Brown
Amanda Pascale
Nick Robinson
Debby Gibbs

Kyle D. & Kimberly Cole
Jack Lane & Michael Hamilton
Jim & Merry Mosbacher
Ashland High School, Ashland, OR, Educator Betsy Bishop
Bloomfield Hills High School, Bloomfield, MI, Educator Mary Bogrette
Buford High School, Buford, GA, Educator Kimberly Staples
Claremont High School, Claremont, CA, Educator Krista Carson Elhai
Dublin Scioto High School, Dublin, OH, Educator Pat Santanello
Munster High School, Munster, IN, Educator Ray Palasz
Liberty High School, Henderson, NV, Educator Sharon Chadwick

Stages St. Louis Performing Arts Academy, St. Louis, MO,
Director of Education & Outreach Dominic Dowdy-Windsor


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[Image Description: List of Projects with Jason team members and their titles. Here is the text: "Team Members: J. Jason Daunter- Founder, Artistic Director. Kimberly Cole- Production Manager. Kyle D. Cole- Technical Supervisor. John Conover- Legal Consultant. Matt Conover- Executive Producer. Will Conover- Social Media Twitter. Krista Carson Elhai- Production Education Team. Dylan Elhai- Graphic Designer. Cambria Graff- Production Education Team. Jeff Hall- Production Education Team, Tech Table Producer. Gai Laing Jones- Production Education Team. Travis Kelley- Video & Digital Content Manager. Vanessa Martinez- Social Media Manager, Facebook, Instagram. KC Wilkerson- Tech Table Host. Jason Yarcho- Musical Supervisor, Composer, Arranger. Student Team Members: Caroline Conover- Digital Content Stage Manager. Louie Gallagher- Virtual Cabaret Host, Social Media- TikTok. Bellise Sacchetto- Virtual Cabaret, Artist in Conversation, and Tech Table Original Graphic Designer. Alumni: Greg Mauro, Nate Reid, Austin Sarti." Below that list is the words "Until Next Time..." and the Projects with Jason logo and website address of End image description.]

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