Jeanette Bonner ’02

DEGREE: B.A. in theater and dance

JOB TITLE: Actress and producer; recently wrote, produced, and acted in a one-woman show, “Love. Guts. High School,” which premiered at the 2012 Midtown International Theater Festival in Manhattan.

REPORTER: How long have you been acting?
BONNER: I started performing as a kid, as young as four years old in dance recitals and for my parents’ friends at their dinner parties. From then on, I was always performing somehow—in choirs, school plays, arts camps, dance classes, community theater, and school musicals. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in theater before I even applied to Trinity. As a junior in high school, I looked for liberal arts schools that had strong theater programs. I ended up choosing Trinity because, unlike other schools, it produced three musicals a year and offered a semester in New York under La Mama E.T.C.

REPORTER: You took part in the Trinity/La Mama Performing Arts Semester. What was that experience like for you?
BONNER: It was really a pinnacle for me. I had been doing all these musicals at Trinity, which fall under the Music Department. Then I went to La Mama and none of the other students were even interested in musicals. I was the oddball of the group. Since the La Mama Theater comes from the experimental/avant-garde world, we were exposed to a lot of unique training and perspectives. I’m going to guess that I’m the only actor in NY who studied Butoh in college!  Not only did it open me up to a different world of theater, it taught me to appreciate that theater cannot be made any one way, and you have to find out which way works best for you.

REPORTER: Can you tell us about your show, “Love. Guts. High School”?
BONNER: It is based on my actual diary entries dating back to middle school about a teeny crush that grew into a very large obsession. It retraces the steps that lead me to make the ultimate teenage decision—losing my virginity to my best friend—and follows the aftermath of that decision in the quest to truly understand how I approach love as an adult. Ultimately it’s about learning to like yourself more that the object of your affection. 

REPORTER: What did you want audiences to take away from the production?
BONNER: I wanted people to relate their experiences to mine. I think we all have that certain someone in our lives who significantly shaped who we are today. After performing the show last year, I had many people approach me and tell me just how much my show hit home for them.

REPORTER: How did it feel to be nominated as one of the Best Productions of the Midtown International Theater Festival?
BONNER: Awesome! There were over thirty shows in the festival last year, and I was one of six nominated for this award.  I think that’s a huge honor.  Although I didn’t win, it was empowering to see that a one-person show with a minimal set could be as moving as a musical with a cast of six.
 
REPORTER: What projects are you currently working on?
BONNER: I’d like “Love. Guts. High School.” to continue to grow.  I submitted it to other festivals in New York City and fringe festivals around the country, and it continues to gain interest. I will be performing in “39 Steps” at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Laconia, NH this August. I am also working on producing a Webisode I wrote called “Ghost Light,” which is about a motley crew of backstage theater technicians.

REPORTER: Would you like to pursue more writing and producing moving forward?
BONNER: Yes! The best thing I have learned in the last couple of years is that the triple threat is no longer “actor-singer-dancer” but “actor-writer-producer.”  With everyone owning their own cameras, and the industry looking to YouTube for new content, that is where the future of entertainment is headed.  It’s exhausting waiting for someone to say “yes” to your dreams. I am so much more fulfilled making projects for myself, enjoying the journey, and seeing where it will take me.