TALKING WITH … David M. Jenkins, Producing Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Jobsite Theater

David at the Straz Center Riverwalk Stage.

David M. Jenkins is producing artistic director and co-founder of Jobsite. He holds a Ph.D. in communication (performance studies) from the University of South Florida, an M.F.A. in acting from the University of Florida and a B.A. in theater performance, also from USF. He has additionally studied with Moscow State University, the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS) and the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

In addition to his full-time work for Jobsite, David teaches interdisciplinary coursework in the Judy Genshaft Honors College at the University of South Florida. He has recently directed productions of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Edgar & Emily, Hedwig and The Angry Inch, Dancing at Lughnasa, HIR, The Tempest and The Threepenny Opera for Jobsite, Always … Patsy Cline and A Tuna Christmas for the Straz Center and The Aliens for Stageworks Theatre. As an actor, he has been recently seen in Doubt: A Parable (Father Flynn), The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised], 1984 (O’Brien), Cloud Nine (Betty/Edward), A Skull in Connemara (Tom Hanlon) and Time Stands Still (James). David has published articles in the scholarly journals Text & Performance Quarterly, Liminalities and Departures in Critical Qualitative Research. He lives in Tampa Heights in a neat old house with his rad wife Summer Bohnenkamp and a mess of critters.

With the premiere of Jobsite’s production of Shakespeare’s Henry V upon us, Caught in the Act asked David a few questions – some profound and some silly – to better get to know this intriguing personality. A proud foodie, committed beerologist and fervent world traveler, his answers below reveal his love for life and a deep seated passion for his trade.

A snapshot of David’s gardening hobby (left) and a backstage selfie during the run of Doubt (right).

What has been the hardest part of this coronavirus experience for you?
Professionally: just feeling powerless. Personally: the lack of social contact, I’m a social creature.

How are you filling your time, both with work and otherwise?
Since the summer I’ve honestly stayed busy professionally working with the Straz on a re-opening plan and getting shows up since October. In my personal life I’ve taken up gardening in a big way — every square inch of my porch is now covered in plants. I’ve also eaten way, way, too much. Food is a hobby, right?

How did you get started in the world of theater?
Kindergarten pageant. I performed in a version of the “Where, Oh Where, Are You Tonight?” sketch from the old TV show Hee-Haw. Hooked. Though I wouldn’t get “serious” about it until 9th grade when I transferred to a performing arts school.

What is your worst quality?
Wrath. For sure. I can be an angry person, and it gives me fits of pettiness. At least I think that’s my worst quality. Some say I’m loyal to a fault, which I don’t always see as a bad thing.

What music is on your playlist?
Right now it’s all straight-up ’90s and early ’00s industrial in prep for Henry V: KMFDM, Nitzer Ebb, Laibach, NIN, Skinny Puppy, etc.

What’s your sign and what does it say about you?
Pisces. I guess that means I’m empathetic, artistic, and emotional. But I have a lot of houses in Ares, so see “Wrath” above.

Read any good books lately?
Edward Lee’s Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine. It was for a class I teach in the USF Honors College on Food, Migration and Globalization. I also just re-read Michael Twitty’s The Cooking Gene for the same course.

What’s always in your refrigerator?
A billion kinds of pickled/fermented things (okra, kimchi, etc). Cold Brew. Cheese. Beer.

David traveling, eating and drinking beer with his wife, Summer.

What’s the greatest thing since sliced bread?
Beer. JK. No, seriously, probably beer. And coffee. And cheese. And pickled things. NO! Wait, travel! I just almost forgot that was a thing! Travel, for sure. I get to taste what beer, coffee, cheese, and pickled things taste like in other places. 🙂

What’s your “guilty pleasure” television show?
Currently Cobra Kai.

In the movie version of your life, who would play you?
Jack Black.

Who or what inspires you?
I am continually inspired by our regional artists. Especially over the course of this past year. What they have all endured and have still managed to achieve through all of this is an incredible inspiration.

What do you consider your greatest successes – personally and professionally?
Getting a great review in the Wall Street Journal for Doubt was recently a pretty big deal for me in both regards. Jobsite was a finalist in 2018 for the American Theatre Wing National Theatre Award, and that meant so much to me also. It was a validation of a lot of work by a lot of people that I feel doesn’t always get recognized locally — and, you know, those are the Tony Award people, so that was a huge honor. Last year’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a massive triumph — it was the best-selling show in the Shimberg Playhouse’s history and also our company best at a wide margin. That was the last show we did before lockdown, and that success has helped us stay afloat through this.

I’ve also managed a happy marriage for over 20 years to my best friend and, as I like to joke, she hasn’t killed me yet. That’s impressive!

If you hadn’t chosen a career in theater, what other career path do you think you’d have followed?
That’s a great question, and I just don’t know the answer — I’ve been serious about this since I was 15. Which means I probably would have ended up in the Navy if this didn’t work out? My grandfather even tried talking me into officer candidate school when I finished my MFA. I wanted to do a lot of science-y things as a kid, but by my teens I really didn’t want to do anything else other than perform.

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