Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Jay Wade will reprise the role of Omari in the Cincinnati Ensemble Theatre production of “Pipeline” March 11- April 4.
This powerful play delves into the issue of the “school-to-prison” pipeline that can ensnare people of color.
The Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati presents a portfolio of visually stunning premier theatre that garners national recognition and has created groundbreaking education and outreach programs that target children and other audiences who would otherwise not have access to theatre.
“My character, Omari, is a teenager who is smart, witty and very caring when it comes to his loved ones,” Wade said. “His downfall, however, is the forces of anger and aggression that come from his relationships, or lack thereof, with his semi-absent father. His mother, who he loves dearly, struggles with trying to keep him out of this ‘pipeline’ from school to prison that tends to fall so much on the country’s children of color. The arc of this character is how he conquers that journey.”
As a Southeast senior, Wade played the role of Omari in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF) production of “Pipeline” in October 2019 in Montgomery, Alabama. His portrayal of the character garnered him an invitation from the director, Ron O.J. Parson, to reprise the role in Cincinnati following his graduation from Southeast in December.
“This would be my second time doing this show and working with this director. The Alabama production worked out the kinks, and I know what to expect. The thing I’m most excited for is discovering new things about the character. I want to make the role a little different than the first time I played Omari,” says Wade.
Although he will be playing the same character, Wade says this production comes with adjustments.
“I have to remember that I am working with a new cast,” he said. “The best way to adjust is to simply stay in the moment and be mindful and collaborative with everyone’s creative choices.”
Wade says his time at Southeast ultimately prepared him for the life of a working actor by teaching students how to be successful in the theatre business.
“The Conservatory does a really good job of preparing their students for the professional world,” he said. “The professors not only taught me how to build my craft, but they also teach professionalism, theatre etiquette and other tools needed to be successful in this business. I would tell Theatre and Dance students to not take that teaching for granted.”
Wade hopes to continue to be a working actor in any venue.
“My long-term goal is simply to be a working actor, whether that’s in film or on stage,” he said. “In late April, I plan to move to Chicago, where Ron also works. Hopefully this experience opens more doors of opportunity to continue doing what I love.”