Lights. Camera. Action.
For 23 years Delta College Drama Professor Harvey Jordan has taught students these commands to students.
Next semester will be his last. Jordan will retire at the school year’s end.
Recently Jordan produced Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” giving it an urban touch up.
“It had been on my mind for a while, I have done many, many Shakespeare (plays) and I never done Romeo and Juliet,” said Jordan. “It has been on my mind and I felt like I wanted to do it this last year because I wanted to do a big show that had a lot of roles.”
Twenty-eight roles to be exact.
The largest in a single play ever here at Delta, said Jordan.
Jordan’s teaching career began in the 1980s at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, which was started by Holly- wood actor Gary Sinise, who is popular for roles in “Forrest Gump” and “Apollo 13.”
Jordan soon left Chicago area and landed in Stockton, bringing East Coast theater life to the West Coast.
Jordan opened an acting school called “American Blues” on the Miracle Mile which he ran for five years.
“I always been committed to intense and very intimate theater, and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to do the kind of shows that I wanted to do at Delta College, so I established my own acting studio for a while,” said Jordan.
During this time, he met Paula Sheil, then a reporter for The Record.
“I was writing about arts and I was doing very little theater during that period. So it made me crazy, because I was excited about what Harvey was doing,” said Shiel.
After leaving the newspaper and taking a full-time English position at Delta, Sheil and Jordan later collaborated on five plays.
“Through Harvey’s guidance, I proved to myself that I could do the harder roles,” said Shiel.
While not many have understood Jordan’s passion for his teaching style, he believes he must give 110 percent when it comes to production.
“It has always been my commitment to make all of the shows I do as high level as I can possibly accomplish,” he said. Student Antwan Mason said Jordan refines the talents of those he works with.
“He amplifies the skills you already have,” said Mason. “And he just makes them ten times better and that is one thing I really like about him.”
When reflecting on his work, Jordan recalls the one play that couldn’t be finished.
“We did ‘Macbeth’ here a couple years and this produc- tion could not be completed the guest artist actor who was playing Macbeth fractured his foot on the first night,” he said.
Jordan also goes on to say that one showing of the play was as good as collegiate theater should be Jordan’s final play at Delta will be Arthur Miller’s adaption of “Death of a Salesman. He will play the lead role. Shiel has set up a scholarship in his name.
“It’s the Harvey Jordan Tribute Scholarship,” said Shiel. “I wanted tribute to be in there and his name will come up when students look up scholarships.”
When asked about his legacy, Jordan sums it up easily.
“I guessing I will be remembered the most for pro- ducing a lot of very challenging provocative theater, and always trying to produce shows at the highest level, even if it is in a ferocious way,” he said.