Balancing is not for the faint-hearted. Even just watching a gymnast balance herself on  a tightrope can make viewers gasp in trepidation for what is next to come. However, when she reaches the end of the lane, a deep sense of pride and relief seep through the watchers’ hearts as loud cheers of astonishment released from their bodies. No doubt, these same feelings must be how the gymnast felt as she accomplished the rough path.
Time and time, we are tested on how much we can juggle at the same time. In today’s world, multitasking is as common as eating while watching a Netflix film. But what if it's two whole commitments at the same time where making a mistake in either one bears the same grave consequence as the other? It’s not as easy as missing a meal in the sacrifice of finishing an episode. A director from The Second City, Jonald Reyes, may have a word or two in terms of balancing to make the most of both circumstances and reaping as much as you can.

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The First Tightrope
Jonald Reyes is no stranger in the world of balancing commitments. He has managed to spin two wheels at the same time for ten years when he was building his career both in the theater and in an engineering firm.
Before theaters, when even the first page of a script was yet to be written, Jonald Reyes grew up as a funny kid fond of TV, film, and writing. Eventually, he took English in college and was then hired to do administrative work in an engineering film. Still unable to completely let go of what he wants, Jonald still took writing classes at The Second City. Managing this lifestyle of having a day job while taking classes eventually led to him directing sketch shows for the stages. Jonald managed to flourish in both ways that he was promoted at his day job and started to work in the Procurement Department. “[It] not only helped me financially but taught me organization & project management skills.  These skills strengthened my Directing & Producer roles within the Chicago comedy community.  I did this balancing act for over 10 years.

By and by, the balancing act had its end when Jonald Reyes took a directing opportunity at National Touring Companies for The Second City. It was a sacrifice as it meant losing the stability of having a consistent income and insurance from working in the engineering firm. Still, Jonald quipped, “But I knew it was time.  I couldn’t balance both and my stress levels at work were hurting my productivity & relationships with people.  I knew I was making the right decision and am still proud of it.”

The Second Tightrope
While directing at the National Touring Companies, more opportunities poured in for the director as he was offered to be the Assistant to the Director for one of The Second City’s Mainstage processes. This position is a full-time job on top of performance hours and with only one day-off weekly. “I took this on while Directing a Touring Company and teaching one improv class, all at Second City.  I also, very insanely, still freelance-directed one show.  So, I was clocking in about 12-14 hours a day for 3 months,” Jonald shared. When asked if it was incredibly taxing to the point that he understandably gave up, with fulfillment he said, “To be completely honest, my brain turned to mush and I didn’t understand what feelings were at that time.  But I crossed that finish line and am so damn proud of that.

“A Touchy Subject” Poster. Solo Show directed by Jonald Reyes in 2017.
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Advice for those who want to tread the Theater path
It is never a smooth sail when one wants to pursue something. But those who have gone before may have some advice to make it easier for the next set of dreamers. Jonald Reyes gave his two favorite phrases that helped him become who he is today, and they were: “How much do you want it?” and “I can do better.” To elaborate, the director explained, “the first regarding ‘want’ gave me perspective when I would be too broke to hang with friends or miss a family function because of a rehearsal.  The latter about ‘being better’ would keep me humble and push me to challenge myself for the next project. Both these thoughts have endured my longevity in this art form.”

Photo Courtesy of The Second City

The Victor Wong Fellowship
By technicality, Jonald Reyes is a director who would inevitably share his expertise to create the best outcome possible on stage. But outside of that, he still participates in endeavors that will further widen the presence and representation of Asian Americans on the theater platform.
He was entrusted to lead The Victor Wong Fellowship, a program named after the first Asian American performer. This fellowship will provide AAPI talents a 3-month intensive focusing on improvisation, sketch comedy writing, acting, and The Second City archives.
To all the dreamers and future conquerors of the performing stage, this may be the deciding step that will take you to your goals. Do not hesitate to register and further accomplish your path. Break a leg!

Oct 5, 2022

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