Harper Jones ’23 knew she’d enjoy the theater scene in London. An Acting major with a Musical Theater concentration, Jones was in one of the globe’s theater capitals almost the entire spring semester on a study abroad program with Arcadia London Center and Goldsmith University. What she may not have expected, though, was to discover a passion for theatrical activism.
After attending the exhibit, “Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s-Now” at Tate Britain, Jones reflected on her experience in “What Does It Mean To be Black in a White Dominated World?”, exploring how her identity as a Black woman relates to all Black people across the globe.
“Afro-Caribbean and Black people all over the world all basically kind of live a similar struggle,” she says. “Hopefully I’ll be able to explore that through artistic or theatrical activism in the near future to expand my exploration of identity.”
Jones believes in the power of art and theater, and how they can go much further than entertainment and alter an audience’s perception of identity and experience.
“If done properly, theatrical activism can lead an audience, even if they don’t understand the production, to leave the theater with a different mindset or perspective than they had coming in,” said Jones. “I believe that theater and art can change the world.”
Jones hails from near Dallas, Texas; she decided to attend college at Arcadia University after theater faculty traveled there to view a high school performance. Two faculty, Mark Wade and Aaron McAllister, made such an impression on Jones that she committed to Arcadia on the spot.
Jones has worked with summer enrichment programs as a mentor to Black youth in Texas, introducing every aspect of theater — acting, dancing, singing, filmmaking, stage lighting, and more — to help creative avenues for young people to express themselves. She was bitten by the musical theater bug at an early age, and counts “Aida,” “On the Town,” and “Funny Girl” as among her favorites.
Jones hopes to graduate summa cum laude next year, intern at a theater company in Philadelphia, and continue her theatrical activism and exploration of identity.
“I want to create a network and establish relationships with people who have the same passions as me,” Jones said. “I have a lot of dreams.”