written by PAM LARSON, Guild Member
JEN FORTUNE has been the artistic set designer for some of the most recent shows at ABET. Although ABET’s stage presents limitations to a set designer, Jen’s creative design talents, theater experience, and artistic vision produced sets that elicited “oohs” and “aahs” from audiences and rave reviews on their own.
Set of The Sugar Bean Sisters | “Jen Fortune has made the setting one of the stars of the show“
Set of Full Gallop | “The set is worth the price of admission.”
Set of Rose’s Dilemma | “ABET’s set by new designer, Jennifer Fortune, is lovely, looks expensive and even has a view of the gorgeous cloudy blue sky.”
Her 13 years experience with Ethan Allen involved interior design and corporate training. Her creative talents encompassed developing marketing concepts for advertising, training videos, and person presentations that required extensive travel.
When asked about her interest in ABET, her response was, “I actually met my husband, Scott, at an Actors Workshop there.” In 2003, Jen went to the opening night party after a play, and “Carson (Merry Baillie) told me about the workshop”. Since she had a “couple weeks off” from her busy travel schedule, she thought it would be “a lot of fun”, and that it might “help me with my presentation skills”, which sometimes involved speaking in front of as many as 700 people.
Scott happened to be at the workshop also and was paired with Jen to do a comedy sketch about a couple on a blind date who had been communicating online. Upon meeting face-to-face, the information they began to share did not match up to that which they had shared online. After realizing this was a case of mistaken identity, the dilemma was whether to continue to get to know the person they just met, or seek out the person they had corresponded with online.
As life imitates art, Scott and Jen began dating, were married within a year and had their wedding ceremony on the stage at ABET. They became season ticket holders and, on every anniversary date, give a donation to the theatre.
When Managing Artistic Director, Celia Frank, approached her about helping out, Jen felt this would give her the “chance to have that creative outlet” she was missing since she no longer worked in the field of design after she returned to school, earned her Masters Degree as a Mental Health Counselor, and is presently on the staff at UNF.
Thank you, Jen, for the generous contributions of your time, energy, and expertise that has so greatly enhanced the ABET stage. The spotlight is truly on you.