Southeast Senior Jay Wade Lands Lead Role In "Pipeline" At AL Shakespeare Festival

Sep 11, 2019

Senior acting major Jay Wade, playing Paddy O'Brien, gazes into the audience during a scene of "An American Hero" in September 2018.
Credit Submitted by Jay Wade

For college students, it’s inevitable to undergo fears of uncertainty after college. To discover what one enjoys and apply if after college comes with a multitude of stress. However, senior theatre major Jay Wade knew what to look forward to and was granted the opportunity of a lifetime.

Wade landed a role in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s production of Pipeline playing a son named Omari. He goes through different obstacles that raise questions about the state of American education. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is the largest professional theatre in Alabama. This role is Wade’s first big step into taking his acting career to the next level.

“I’m a little anxious, but I know this will be a good thing for me,” Wade said.

Wade’s longtime goal was to start working immediately after college and explained this opportunity happened at the right time to get his career going.

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is one of the Big 10 festivals that take place in the nation, and Wade shared a little about what Pipeline is all about.

“The title ‘Pipeline’ is sort of a trope to a temporary problem happening in America, particularly the school-to-prison pipeline,” Wade said. “It’s about a mother trying to protect and shield her son from a bad situation that happens in school where he could eventually fall into that pipeline.”

Big roles like this one often come with challenges that have to be pushed through, but Wade already has a game plan.

“Being prepared is always a challenge, but I try to not make it one,” he said. “I will just come into the first rehearsal and try to have it somewhat memorized, but the preparation will be the biggest challenge for me. Just moving to a different environment [poses a challenge], too, but I’ll get over that hump.”

Wade’s love for acting started with family, but it took off once he got to college.

“It was something I picked up on. I have a big family and we watched a lot of movies, so it was one of those things that stuck with me,” Wade said. “I was a little bit reluctant to do it because I was a big athlete at the time, but once I came to college, I thought I should go for it.”

Being in many productions at Southeast, Wade developed a favorite role.

The production Othello has been done for the first time at Southeast in 40 years, in which he played the character Lago.

“It was the most challenging and the most daring,” Wade said. “The story hasn’t been done like that before or hasn’t been done in a while.”

This far in his acting career, Wade said he was learned the ins and outs of putting on a great show.

“Everything won’t come easy, you have to really work for it if you want to grow and get better,” he said. “I put pretty much everything into Othello because I wanted to leave with a bang, so it was definitely the hard work that paid off.”

Because students learn from other students, Wade shared what he would want to say to encourage other inspiring actors at Southeast.

“I would want to pass down an essence of being able to control what you can control. Everything is not always going to go your way, but everything works out in the end,” Wade said. “This is a journey, a four- year journey, and it all pays off in the end. You just gotta keep working.”

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival will show Pipeline at the Octagon Stage Oct. 17 - 27 in Montgomery, Alabama.