Over the years I’ve worked on many productions that were for and/or by the young people of the greater Seattle area. Some were touring shows bringing professional performing arts to schools and communities in rural areas. Others gave children their first chance at being on stage. These weren’t the big scale productions I dreamt about when I was training to be a designer but I would reassure myself with thoughts like “everyone starts somewhere” and “I’m building my resume.” Deep down I would wonder if any of my time and effort would pay off. Well, recently it did but not in the way I was expecting.
You may have seen my earlier post about the new SyFy’s series Z Nation. I’ve been looking forward to watching the Spokane-based production to see the familiar faces of many of my local colleagues. When I tuned in this week I had a startling realization. I recognized one of the show’s main characters. Character 10K is played by Seattle native Nat Zang. I had the privilege of working on a few shows with Nat not too many years ago at Youth Theatre Northwest on Mercer Island.
I am not claiming to have influenced Nat in any significant way. At best, I hope that his dresser doesn’t have to pick his costume up off the floor of his trailer because he vaguely remembers some crazy redheaded lady lecturing all the kids about respecting their costumes.
After watching the show this week I tried to go to bed but I was rendered sleepless with the spark of excitement that grew within me. Many people, most of whom I’ll never know, were responsible for my early experiences in the performing arts. These experiences resulted in a career that I hold dear, a career that brings me joy and fills me with purpose. To have been part of a similar experience for someone else is a feeling of such overwhelming delight. I hope other professionals in the arts are inspired to be a part of future artists’ memories.
Left: A young Nat in YTN's production of Fiddler on the Roof
Right: Nat in SyFy's Z Nation (I have to say, I'm a big fan of the dye job).