As a feisty 11-year-old, I never thought the day would come when I'd meet someone with as much sass as me – I could not have been more wrong. Jay Parker jumped into my life around five years ago when I was working on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, at Boise Little Theatre. Never had I met someone who had so many witty remarks, arms always ready to pick someone else up, and the spunk to make any 11-year-old quiet. Recently, however, I learned the story and trials of how he became the stage manager/performer our community knows and loves.
Jays' passion for theatre and stage managing was first ignited when he was in high school. His high school drama teacher said, "You should never do this again, because you're horrible at it and should just give it up." The average person, if told this, might just let go of theatre on the spot and try to take a new direction in life.
This was certainly not the case for Jay Parker. "I don't know if that either put a fire up my ass or what," he remembers, but being told no was the beginning to Jay's life in theatre.
That beginning of his new life in theatre began with Move Over Ms. Markham at Boise Little Theatre in 1999. For the entire show he folded towels backstage, but soon he moved on up. This show started his career at Boise Little Theatre, and helped him discover his love for working on the stage. After he shadowed a director for some time, he finally got his first stage managing job on the show Last of the Red Hot Lovers.
Soon the stage manager zeal led him to other local theatres such as Stage Coach Theatre. He and his partner, David, worked together on one particular show there (he forgets which one). David earned the title of "Light God," because of finesse in lighting. Until sadly, on April 21, 2006, David passed away.
During this time Jay "literally threw himself into theatre and worked on every show at Boise Little Theatre." This was because theatre was home for him, and David and the people there were their family. These people and the theatre got him through "the most devastating thing to happen in theatre" for him.
Time passed and he met his current partner, Gary, who soon got drawn into theatre as well. Jay told him to "run away from theatre and run like fucking hell, because you get sucked in,” he re remembers with a laugh. After Gary was asked to run curtains for the show Foxfire, the rest was history – now Gary is one of the most loved prop masters in our community.
Throughout these nearly 20 years in theatre, one of the biggest rewards Jay has received from being a stage manager is the lifelong friends. "In theater we choose people and who we get to be involved with," he says.
Indeed, it is such an honor to be in a profession where we have the privilege to choose the best of the best for productions. Jay explained that as a stage manager he is constantly watching people onstage, witnessing the process of the character development, and seeing the stories come to life. You learn so much about a person when watching them onstage, and this ultimately is what leads theatre people to become so close. Theatre is such a vulnerable art – you have to be fearless in portraying a character as accurately as possible. And no one sees this better than Jay.
Since Jay is always listening offstage, he's there to pick people up. Whether they have a breakdown backstage, or can't find their prop, he's there. This quality of always supporting everyone as stage manager has certainly projected into his day-to-day life and made him a better person. He's always there now to help people through life, and offers these words as inspiration to those who were told no like himself in high school, "Always listen to your inner voice. Just because you get rejected don't stop pursuing what you're passionate about."
Stage managing in theatre has helped Jay cope with the loss, make life-long friendships, and given him the opportunity to be the “eye in the center of the hurricane” during shows.
Jay is the epitome to me of what perseverance means. Even when he was told no, he just kept going and made a beautiful life. If I can have a fraction of that positivity and motivation to get through life and the hard career of theatre, I know I'll hold so much joy inside of me.