a manager: director Jackson (top row, center) with the
cast of Take Me Out.
Jackson is Mark Belanger/ Buddy Harrelson thin. His sandy-blond
hair is graying, he wears glasses, and he laughs easily. He
is also an award-winning director, and an actor familiar to
the region’s theatergoers from his stellar performances at
Adirondack Theatre Festival—most notably in Art and
Stones in His Pocket. Kirk Jackson is a 1974 graduate
of Bethlehem High School; he’s also a theater professor, currently
at Bennington College.
What Kirk Jackson isn’t, is a baseball fan; at least
he wasn’t before directing Take Me Out. Richard Greenberg’s
2003 Tony Award-winning play is about a star baseball player
at the zenith of his talents who reveals that he’s gay. Jackson
first directed Take Me Out at Washington, D.C.’s Studio
Theatre in 2005; now he’s helming the play at Albany’s Capital
directed Take Me Out in D.C.,” says Jackson, “at the
time the Nationals were just starting, in the spring, and
people were abuzz with baseball. They were trying to fund
a new stadium, but I wasn’t a baseball fan. I was a fan of
the play. I’d seen it in New York and thought it was fabulous
. . . but I wasn’t a baseball fan until I directed the play.
The actors were all invited to [a] luxury box at RFK [stadium]
for a game, but I was involved in another project by then,
so I didn’t go, but I’ve gone to games in New York since,
and I love it.”
A streak hitter who sprays to all fields, Jackson sat in the
lobby of Capital Repertory’s North Pearl Street theater waiting
for the evening rehearsal to begin.
fun doing a play about baseball. All [the actors] played [at]
one time or another. . . . They bring a connection to it that
I didn’t have until I [directed the play]. There’s a spectacle
here . . . we sort of play a game, baseball game, sort of
. . . not directly, but we get the excitement of the game.
Jake [Suffian, playing Shane Mungitt, the John Rocker-ish
redneck relief pitcher] is the ‘baseball choreographer.’ He
takes the vocabulary of the way we watch baseball, the iconic
frames of the game, and creates those key moments on stage.”
Here Jackson mimes a double-play off what seems to be a left-handed
curveball, while the smell of glue fills the lobby.
for the shower scene,” Jackson smiles, indicating the intoxicating
aroma. “It’s a very complex play, both in its themes and stagecraft.
The shower scene isn’t about sex. . . . It’s nudity.
don’t want to give away too much,” Jackson says, “but, thematically,
[the nudity] belongs in the play.” They talk about the character
who comes out of the closet, and, “they’re suddenly uncomfortable
with each other. That didn’t use to be.”
Jackson stops, sighs, smiles.
entire society needs to calm down about the penis,” he states
in Yogi Berra style.
Take Me Out is more than just naked men, baseball,
being gay and a celebrity. The play is smart and funny. Frankly
it’s very funny. It’s got tragedy, but it’s a funny, feel-good
play. That’s a terrible quote, but I’ve seen the play hundreds
of times now, and, in a Disney way, I get choked up at the
Jackson has assembled what he considers an all-star cast and
crew, using some of the same actors from his award-winning
D.C. production, same set designer (Dan Conway), and lighting
and costume designers (Michael Giannitti and Barbara Wolfe,
who designed the excellent costumes for last season’s stellar
Jackson is also directing his partner of 16 years, Oliver
Wadsworth, and directing your partner is a little like turning
a double play: “It’s fine, great. We don’t do things other
couples do. . . . We don’t collect antiques or small dogs
or play golf. We love working in the theater.”
to communicate with actors? That’s the key. I like working
with him. I’ve liked working with all of them. We had a really
good time doing this.” As for the play, “I think it’s a really
compelling story, with lots of humor: smart, witty, moving,
with some really good actors, and there’s a lot of great-
looking men naked.”
For those keeping the box score at home, that’s a rare triple
play for Take Me Out: It’s a show for baseball fans
to humor fans to fans of the penis.
Me Out opens tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 19) at Capital Repertory
Theatre (111 N. Pearl St., Albany). For more info, call the
box office at 445-7469.