While his legal career was coming to a close, his re-emergence into the world of theater was just beginning.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Actor, and Former Lawyer
Fondest Adelphi memory:
“Basil Rathbone, the actor who played Sherlock Holmes in over a dozen Hollywood films, came to Adelphi’s campus in 1962 for the May Festival. He performed selections from Shakespeare and Robert Browning… it was a wonderfully entertaining and moving evening.”
Favorite Shakespeare play:
Advice to freshmen considering law school:
“Take political science, constitutional law, and American history, but remember that you also need to be well-read, able to think critically, and most importantly, able to communicate effectively through your writing.”
Mark William Jordan embraced the liberal arts experience at Adelphi. The skills and broad knowledge base he acquired translated into immediate success upon graduation, throughout his career, and years later, when he took to the stage.
“I started in accounting at Adelphi, but wasn’t sure what major I wanted to pursue,” says Mr. Jordan, who enjoyed exploring the varied disciplines offered. In English courses taught by professors Mildred Kalish, Emil Dillard, and Donald Koster, he had the opportunity to immerse himself in the poetry of William Shakespeare.
“I also took speech classes… and as many history courses as I could fit into my schedule,” says Mr. Jordan, who recalls one course in particular. “I took American History with Professor Allen Burns. Professor Burns gave me the opportunity to lecture to our class on the Civil War because I was a Civil War buff.”
Mr. Jordan, who came to Adelphi on a full scholarship, credits his University education with sharpening his reading, analytic, and memorization skills. “My process of studying evolved at Adelphi,” he says. “It was at the University that I blossomed intellectually.”
At Adelphi he also expanded his involvement in artistic pursuits. A performing arts enthusiast ever since his grandmother took him to see shows in New York City as a child, Mr. Jordan acted in a number of Adelphi theatrical productions; one of the most memorable performances for him was Macbeth.
After graduating from the University with his bachelor’s degree in business, Mr. Jordan embarked on his next venture: law school. While the large amounts of reading, analysis, and memorization required can be taxing on any student, Mr. Jordan discovered that the foundation he built at Adelphi enabled him to flourish in his legal education. “I knew how to study, I understood how to read and analyze the material assigned,” he says. “My Adelphi education prepared me well.”
After earning his degree from the University of California at Berkeley Law School, he worked in a law firm. Following nearly a decade in tax litigation, he transitioned into the role of a regulatory lawyer at the health care organization, Kaiser Permanente. Over the course of his 35 years as a lawyer at Kaiser Permanente, Mr. Jordan ascended the ranks to senior counsel, a position he held until his retirement in 2009.
While his legal career was coming to a close, his re-emergence into the world of theater was just beginning. In 2003 and 2004, Mr. Jordan took beginner and intermediate acting courses at the local community college near his home in Walnut Creek, California, and then successfully auditioned for roles in local community theaters.
In 2006 he took time off to travel to the home of his favorite playwright and poet to continue his acting studies. “I studied Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where I also took courses ranging from literature of theater to directing to philosophy,” he says. “They all helped build a stronger base for me to become a better actor.”
To date, he has performed in over 30 plays in the San Francisco Bay Area, in roles such as Matthew Harrison Brady in the Novato Community Theater’s production of Inherit the Wind, George in the Tri-Valley Playhouse’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Henry II in the Role Players Ensemble’s production of The Lion in Winter and The Merchant in Geoffrey Chaucer & Co.’s The Shipman’s Tale. He has performed in seventeen of Shakespeare’s plays.
While Mr. Jordan played Gonzalo in the Ragged Wind Ensemble’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, he feels a particular affinity for the character Prospero. Just as Prospero is a powerful magician, Mr. Jordan’s favorite part of theater is his ability as an actor to create magic on stage. “I love taking a life on paper and turning it into a person on stage… the fact that no performance is the same… that there is a live audience to entertain,” says Mr. Jordan. “I love the challenge of theater.”
When he is not performing, Mr. Jordan enjoys working out to stay in shape, white water canoeing and kayaking, and traveling. In 2005, he and his wife hiked to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. He also loves English history, reading, and photography. He recently combined his interests by publishing articles on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and canoeing.
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