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Palmer heads to exclusive training

Jordan Palmer

Jordan Palmer

Accepted to eight of the 11 elite college theater programs he auditioned for, The Dalles High School senior Jordan Palmer has settled on the prestigious Boston Conservatory.

His freshman class will be the first to enter a new program at the conservatory called contemporary theater.

All of the programs offered Palmer scholarships. He will get a $35,000 per year scholarship to attend Boston Conservatory, which carries a $64,000 per year price tag.

Palmer attended auditions in Chicago earlier this year, trying out for 11 exclusive schools that had only one or two dozen slots available.

“I don’t know how I got into all these college programs, it’s sort of crazy,” he said. He was hoping to get accepted by “like three, maybe.”

For years he’d had his heart set on Carnegie Mellon, but didn’t click with its audition team. He never even pursued Juilliard, because he heard it was an intense, cut-throat program. “That’s not the environment for me.”

During auditions, he was particularly drawn to the folks from Boston Conservatory. When he got an offer, he flew to Boston to check it out and fell in love with the city and the program. Established in 1867, it is the oldest conservatory in the U.S. A conservatory is a college for the study of classical music or the arts.

The conservatory has only 750 students, and is located on a half-block near Fenway Park.

He picked Boston Conservatory because of its location, the city itself, the dynamic between students and teachers, the performance spaces and what goes on in the performance spaces, he said.

The conservatory aims to create multidisciplinary graduates. “Now in theater you have to be good in a number of things in order to succeed,” Palmer said.

Contemporary theater is focused on ensemble work done through collaboration, he said. In his second semester his freshman year, his class will rework a Greek play and give it their own twist.

Palmer will also be able to take classes at nearby conservatories, ones like Berklee College of Music, that are famous in their own right.

He got to meet students and was impressed. “They were just so gracious and so amazingly intelligent too, and that’s one of the things that really intrigues me. I always thought that a conservatory didn’t challenge you intellectually and some don’t, they just teach you to be an actor or singer or dancer. But the studies at the BC are so intellectually stimulating.”

Palmer’s love has been musical theater, and he’s been in over 25 student and community plays in The Dalles over the years.

Palmer’s last area production was as a paid actor with Oregon Children’s Theatre in Portland.

Unlike shows in The Dalles, where actors come out to the foyer to be greeted by the crowd leaving the theater, the actors just went backstage when it was over.

He actually prefers that, because he feels when actors mingle with the audience after a show, it forces people to compliment them.

Performing in the small Wigginstad Theatre offered its own experiences, including when one school put the older, “least enthusiastic” kids in the front row. “Seriously, there was one kid who had a blanket and he was sleeping through the entire show. He brought in a blanket! I mean, come on!”

Then there was one woman smack in the middle of the front row who was so disinterested and sour throughout a performance – despite the wild enjoyment of the little kids all around her — that it caused Palmer to break character a bit because he found it so funny.


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