Ty Jones, who plays a special agent in charge on the Starz television series, “Power,” is also in charge of the Classical Theater of Harlem. As its producing artistic director, he oversees productions of classic plays retold from the African-American perspective. The theater, celebrating its 20th anniversary, has plenty to celebrate.
A decade ago, it was $400,000 in debt and on the verge of closing. To help revive it, Mr. Jones took the helm and worked pro bono for nearly 10 years. As of 2019, the company is debt free, with an annual $1.4 million operating budget.
This fall, the theater will present “A Harlem Dream,” a fresh take on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” in collaboration with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which will perform the Felix Mendelssohn composition inspired by the play.
Mr. Jones, 49, lives in Harlem with his wife, Jill Jones, 46, and their three children, Kaden Kennedy, 12; Roen Emersyn, 10; and Emery Mason, 8.
SUNDAY SERENADE My kids are all classical musicians who practice every day. They wake us up with music. What happens is they want to watch cartoons, but they know they have to practice a minimum of an hour, so they try to knock it out so they don’t have to go through this whole negotiation about practicing later in the afternoon. They’re very smart about finding ways to satisfy Mom and Dad so they can get their screen time with all their devices.
SIMPLE BREAKFAST Cereal is very popular on Sundays: Froot Loops, Honey Nut Cheerios, Rice Krispies. Mom does cook a lot — every morning before school, Jill will stir up pancakes or something. But on weekends we keep it simple.
SQUEEZING WORK IN I’m usually at the kitchen table with my laptop. A lot of my time, even on weekends, is occupied with running a nonprofit. I’ll be working with our marketing team or on social media to make sure our visibility is as broad as it can be. How do I find more support? How do I get to a place where this company is sustainable? I get yelled at a little for having the laptop at the table.
PROJECTS Sometimes in the morning I’ll work on lines for an audition. Jill helps me with that. Or I go through some of the books I’m reading. I have a couple of projects on my mind that I’d like to see come to fruition. One is about Alexander Dumas. I think it’s time for people to start mentioning him in the same conversations as Molière and Shakespeare. Dumas wrote “The Count of Monte Christo” and “The Man in the Iron Mask” and “The Three Musketeers.” He should be included in conversations about classics. I never hear his name mentioned.
GUTTER BALLS, GROCERIES Late mornings, especially if it’s summertime, my wife will be like, Let’s go. Three kids means we must get out of the house. We’ll go bowling for a few hours down at Bowlmor. It’s pretty fun. Then we’ll walk to Fairway in Harlem in the afternoon to buy dinner. With a family of five in New York City, eating at home is economical. We’ll buy a steak or some chicken for Jill to prepare for all of us in the evening. Then we take the 1 train to get home.
INTERLUDE One of the things we do on occasion is, Kaden will take his cello out and we’ll go to a local park. It’s one of the most lovely things: the kids in the park will come around to listen to him play. Who knows if these kids have access to instruments of their own? A lot of them are mesmerized. Seeing that is something you can’t put on a spreadsheet. It’s beautiful.
DATE DRINK Jill and I don’t have date night on Sunday nights, but sometimes we’ll have a date drink. Coogan’s is a spot we’ll hit on occasion. It’s been there four decades and has had its ups and downs. It’s on an upswing.
TUBMAN BRIBES We sit at the table together for dinner. We need to have that fellowship. The girls get to bed at eight or 8:30, and Kaden can stay up till 10. They all have to read before they go to bed. I sort of insist on socially conscious books. Right now I’m having them read “A Young People’s History of the United States.” There’s a little bribing that goes on, like “Whoever reads it fastest gets a Tubman,” which is 20 bucks.
NETFLIX AND NONPROFIT WORK What we try to do is we turn on Netflix and see if there’s something we’re both interested in. Jill loves rom-coms, and I can’t stand them, so we try to find a happy medium. We’ll find something that is really brain candy. We recently watched “Black Mirror.” If I’m not asleep while we’re watching, I may venture back to working on a proposal or a grant. Then I won’t get to bed until as late as 1 o’clock.