Jonathan Marks, a professor in the School of Theatre & Dance and director of the musical “Heathers: The Musical,” has had a long and elite career in the theater industry.
Marks attended Yale University and has worked professionally with the Yale Repertory Theatre. After Yale, Marks said he went to France as a Fulbright Scholar.
When Marks returned from France, he said he came back to Yale and continued working with the Repertory Theatre.
Marks said he then taught at drama schools across the country such as Yale, Harvard, American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco State and Stanford.
After living on both coasts and abroad, Marks said he decided to try living in the middle of the country by coming to teach at Texas Tech.
Marks said it was an interesting transition moving to a small, interesting department that has grown enormously since he has been here.
Mark Charney, director and professor at the School of Theatre & Dance, met Marks during his interview for the director position. Marks was one of the strong incentives, Charney said, that drew him to Tech.
Since he became the director of the School of Theatre & Dance, Charney said Marks has been a friend, colleague and adviser. Charney respects Marks for his dedication and directing abilities.
“Many people consider (Marks) the father of American dramaturgy,” Charney said. “His reputation precedes him.”
Marks has worked with the likes of Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster, Charney said. Marks has also worked with other notable actors, including Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Walken and Henry Winkler.
Marks said he cannot turn on the TV and not see someone he knows and has worked with.
“Working for those repertory theaters is the bulk of my experience,” Marks said. “During the course of my career, I have worked with a lot of wonderful people and a lot of celebrated people.”
When he was younger, Marks said he did not know he would end up in the theater, although he knew he wanted to be in show business. Marks’ cousin, who died before they could meet, was one of the founders of Hollywood and was good friends with Charlie Chaplin.
Marks said it was at college that he found his talent for theater.
“College was hard, but (acting) I was good at,” Marks said.
Marks said he has both taught and practiced acting, dramaturgy and directing.
Marks has directed numerous plays and musicals at Tech, including “Angels in America,” “Twelfth Night,” “Anything Goes,” “A Chorus Line,” and, most recently, “Heathers: The Musical.”
Charney said he applauds Marks for taking on an edgy musical like “Heathers: The Musical” and admires Marks’ contributions to Tech.
The first year Charney was at Tech, Marks produced a play by Mark Twain called, “Is He Dead?” Charney did not care for the play, he said, but loved Marks’ production.
“There’s a play that I did not think read well,” Charney said. “When I saw his version, I understood it all again.”
Tech is different from the other institutions Marks has taught at because the students are open, friendly and respectful. Marks said Tech attracts talented graduate students.
“Somehow or other, we attract really good talent, and we don’t ruin them,” Marks said. “Schools can ruin talent.”
Marks’ favorite part about directing is casting and finally seeing the show come together in the end. Marks said he hopes to continue directing for as long as he can.
“My best fun of the year is getting to direct young people,” he said. “It’s exciting to see a future big talent and know it.”