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Nutshell Bio

JASON CANNON is a best-selling and award-winning author and publisher, as well as an award-winning director, actor, playwright, improviser, and teacher. He has an MFA in Directing, a Masters in Drama, and a quarter-century in professional theatre.

As an actor Jason has portrayed everything from a rapping dinosaur to a robot and from a hitman to Hamlet. He has written plays about J.R.R. Tolkien and Stevie Wonder, directed plays about hiccuping dragons and foul-mouthed puppets, and once while improvising he was attacked by a stage light.

Me in the middle, demonstrating “Intense Director” pose.

Big, fancy, professional Bio

Jason is a proud member of SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society), AEA (Actor’s Equity Association), and SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Actors).  He holds an MFA in Directing from Lindenwood University, an MA in Drama from Washington University in St. Louis, and BA in Theatre and English from Greenville College.  He is also an alum of the Directors Lab Chicago and Cornerstone Theater’s Institute Intensive.

In 2022 Jason founded Ibis Books and has published several books by himself and other authors. He is also a freelance editor and writing teacher.

That same year, Jason also co-founded Lifeline Productions, a non-profit that uses the power of the arts to elevate the conversation around mental health and shatter the stigmas associated with mental illness. He serves as Chief Creative Officer.

Jason worked at Florida Studio Theatre as an Associate Artist from 2012 to 2022. At FST Jason was an in-house director, playwright, actor, and teacher. He also appeared regularly with FST Improv and worked in New Play Development and the Acting Apprentice Program. Jason was Line Producer for the National New Play Network’s 2014 Showcase (hosted at FST), and helped guide the Burdick New Play Reading Series at FST since 2013.

From 2010-2014 Jason served as Producing Artistic Director at Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla, MO. At OAT Jason oversaw a 50% growth in season subscriptions and a redesign of the website, logo, and branding. His responsibilities included programming, casting, directing, hiring, marketing, development, grant writing, and community outreach.

Between 1999 and 2012 Jason worked primarily in St. Louis as a professional actor, director, playwright, producer, and educator.  As an actor he has over 90 professional credits and has appeared with Florida Studio Theatre, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Stages St. Louis, the New Jewish Theatre, Upstream Theatre, Dramatic License Productions, the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Mustard Seed Theatre, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, Black Cat Theatre, Vanity Theatre, RiverCity Theatre, OnSite Theatre, Ozark Actors Theatre, Historyonics, Hothouse Theatre, CityTheatre, Theatre Belle Bete, Metro Theatre Company, St. Louis Shakespeare Company, NewLine Theatre, (Mostly) Harmless Theatre, and the Science Theatre Caravan (formerly Muny First Stage).  Jason also appeared opposite Aaron Eckhart in the feature film MEET BILL. Jason also appears regularly with FST Improv.

As a director Jason has over 100 professional credits and another two dozen educational/guest artist credits.  He has directed for Florida Studio Theatre, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis/Imaginary Theatre Company, Ozark Actors Theatre, Insight Theatre, Dramatic License Productions, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, HotCity Theatre, The GreenHouse, RiverCity Theatre, Vanity Theatre, Spotlight Theatre, The HotHouse Staged Reading Series, the New Jewish Theatre Salon, Saint Louis University, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, The University of Missouri-St. Louis, Lindenwood University, Fontbonne University, and Washington University in St. Louis.  

As a playwright, Jason has had nine plays produced. He wrote CLOWNS LIKE ME for Lifeline Productions, which will have its world premiere in May of 2023. Jason was lead developer on the cabaret A PLACE IN THE SUN: A TRIBUTE TO STEVIE WONDER for FST, which has its world premiere in November, 2022. Jason created OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER at FST between 2013 and 2015, a documentary theatre piece built out of almost a hundred interviews with Sarasota residents ages 55-101, and continued this interview/documentary project at FST with LAST RIGHTS in 2016, a play exploring end of life issues.  Jason also collaborated as Book Writer on WENDY’S SHADOW, a modern folk/rock adaptation of the Peter Pan and Wendy story, created with the songwriting team of Maglione and Ruiz. Jason premiered his first full-length script in November, 2004, with Historyonics, who commissioned and produced his play THE EAGLE AND CHILD:  C.S. LEWIS AND J.R.R. TOLKIEN.  This play has received two subsequent productions, at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, and at Jason’s alma mater, Greenville College in Greenville, IL. Jason’s second script, AESOP’S GREATEST HITS, a romp through the world of fables written for young audiences, toured throughout St. Louis area schools with the St. Louis Shakespeare Company. Jason was also commissioned to adapt THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR for the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis’s education and touring program. WINDSOR LIVE! re-imagines Shakespeare’s classic comedy as an American Idol-style reality competition where the characters vie to become the Next Great Prankster. WINDSOR LIVE! toured bi-state area schools during the spring semester of 2009. Jason’s 10-minute play WHEELCHAIR CHICKEN was selected and presented by two new play festivals.

As an educator Jason has taught Shakespeare, acting, stagecraft, stage combat, audition technique, playwriting, and improvisation for various camps and arts organizations including ACE (Adult and Community Enrichment), Florida Studio Theatre, Ozark Actors Theatre, SAPS (Sarasota Area Playwrights’ Society), COCA (Center of Creative Arts in St. Louis), the Boys and Girls Club, the West County YMCA, Marian Middle School, and the St. Louis Science Center. Jason has taught Theatre at St. Louis University, Writing at Washington University in St. Louis, and both undergraduate and graduate-level Acting at Fontbonne University. He served a three-year appointment as Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he taught acting and directing, and served as production manager and director for departmental productions. He has also taught fiction and memoir writing at ACE, and multiple sections of Writing 101 at Washington University in St. Louis.

Jason founded the GreenHouse New Play Festival at HotCity Theatre in St. Louis, and was a co-founder of the Professional Theatre Council of St. Louis (PTC) and the Kevin Kline Awards, which for seven years annually celebrated excellence in professional St. Louis Theatre.  He served on the Board of Directors of PTC for six years, including one year as President, and worked as webmaster, judging coordinator, and on various committees.  He has also been nominated for seven Kevin Kline Awards (Outstanding Director twice, Lead Actor thrice, Supporting Actor once, and Lighting Design once), and won the 2010 Kevin Kline Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play for his performance in DOUBT:  A PARABLE with Dramatic License Productions.

Jason is also a sought-after emcee for events such as Follies, Education Showcases, ALS Association Walk to Defeat ALS, and Autism Speaks’ annual awards dinner; an improvisation host for Black Diamond Burlesque; a narrator for groups such as the Sarasota Pops Orchestra and Sarasota First United Methodist Church; a radio/television/online interview guest; an on-camera host; a public speaker at service clubs and organizations; and even a wedding officiant.

Author photos by Shyla Rose Photography