Meet Jonathan Gillespie
Major and degree earned: B.A. in Theatre, B.A. in English
Graduation year: 1977
Current position: Artistic Director of the Warren Consolidated School of Performing Arts (WCSPA)
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Now living in: Chatham, Ontario
Why did you choose Michigan State University?
I had attended Band Camps on campus as a high school student and fell in love with the campus. Although I didn’t think I would qualify, a Counselor encouraged me to “Dream Big”. A high ACT score and a placement exam, made up for a less than stellar high school academic career. The day I got my acceptance letter remains one of my favorite memories.
How did Michigan State University help you prepare for your career?
The incredible flexibility of the Theatre Department and it’s faculty allowed me to grow as an artist and a person. I learned to seek opportunities and then work your hardest when you are given them. As an undergraduate I had the opportunity to design in the Arena and to direct in Summer Circle. I learned to become an active learner. MSU gave me the depth and variety of experience that I have used and built on for more than 40 years.
What was the most memorable experience at Michigan State University?
There are so many to choose from, but my favorite would be the summer of 1976, studying scene design in London. A great group of students under the leadership of the amazing Donna Arnink, we spent the summer seeing great theatre, filling sketch pads, and immersing ourselves in one of the world’s great cities.
What advice do you have for today’s students?
Learn from everything. Every experience, good or bad, is an opportunity to learn and grow as a person and an artist. Open yourself to the lesson. Find something you love doing and work really hard at it. Have fun!
Production Photos from MSU
Recent Production Photos
Jonathan Gillespie is a native of Detroit, Michigan and attended Michigan State University where he graduated with degrees in English and Theatre. In 1978 he became the Artistic Director of the Dillard School of Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. While at Dillard, Jonathan redeveloped the program, curriculum, and directed more than 50 productions. In 1987 he returned to Michigan to pursue professional opportunities at the BoarsHead Michigan Public Theatre where he both directed and served as Educational Outreach Coordinator. Jonathan moved to the Detroit metropolitan area and returned to teaching when he became the Artistic Director of the Warren Consolidated School of Performing Arts in suburban Macomb County. From 1995 to the present he has grown the program’s scope and reputation. Jonathan has been a board member of the Michigan Educational Theatre Association for more than twenty years and served as the state of Michigan Director for 6 years. In 2008, Jonathan was inducted into the National Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame. In addition to having directed more than 200 productions, Jonathan is an accomplished Scene Designer and Scenic Artist. He is a naturalized Canadian citizen and currently resides with his husband in Chatham, Ontario
Anything else you might like to add?
My years at MSU remain one of my most cherished memories. Enjoy the journey.
Go Green! Go White!