by Pollyanna Eyler, Dramaturg
Jake Fullmer is not only an experienced world-wide Stage Manager, for The Glorious Story Emporium, he will also be a traveling showman for Young Company’s traveling improv, set in the Vaudeville Era. As a stage manager, Jake is quick with compliments and accommodating requests. But don’t let his easy smile and flexible nature fool you, you’ve got to act fast to keep pace with him in his travels as of late. As a typical “Traveling Showman” Jake has traveled locally with Young Company, and nationally, and internationally with International Folk Dance. So where can you spot this rare breed of labor and laughs? I caught up with him at the BYU Prop Shop and am pleased to share some insights into what makes him tick.
- What grade are you in at BYU: I’m a “super senior”
- What will your degree be in: Stage management
- When do you plan to graduate: Next winter
- What was your first foray into theatre: I actually started in theatre being a performer. When I was in middle-school, once I graduated and I was going to high school, we moved from Boston to DC. and I didn’t have any friends. So the friends I did make were in theatre and I was, like, if I’m going to hang out with these people I’m going to need to do theatre too. I started working as a house manager, actually, in a contemporary theatre back in DC. They still have me on the payroll. So that’s going on ten years now., which is nice. Whenever I go back, I’ll work with them a little bit. It’s a combination of doing house managing and performing. It wasn’t until I got to college that I started doing backstage stuff.
- Which plays or parts stick out in your mind: So, the first play I was ever in was Pippin and that’s just how I view theatre, as a minstrel show. Now that I’ve been in theatre, I know that it’s definitely not that but that’s always how I feel when I’m in theatre – that it’s all just sort of a minstrel show, telling a story.
- Tell me about your experience as a stage manager: The first show I ever worked on in a stage manager capacity, I was the assistant stage manager for Water Sings Blue, which was a Young Company show. The next year I was the stage manager for Cyrano, which was last year’s fall Young Company Show. I also have worked as the stage manager for the International Folk Dance Ensemble, and over the summer we just got back from South East Asia: Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
On the Road Again:
- Where did you go last year: Last year, we did a tour in Nauvoo. We were there for a month. The performing missionaries would perform and then we would come on and do our show.
- Tell me about this summer: It was amazing. Being able to have that challenge of being in a foreign country where the electronics, I don’t want to say they’re sub-par, but they use a different system than we do. And it’s interesting to figure out how to adapt what they have to what we have and put on the same caliber show.
- How many weeks were you out: We were out for a month, well, like 24 days, so about a month. Basically, every week we moved on to a different country. So, the first week we were in Thailand. The second week we were in Cambodia. The third week we were in Vietnam. We did a couple of shows in each country.
- What is it like traveling with Young Company: I absolutely love it. I love being able to perform in different venues – well, I love being able to help my actors perform in different venues. I just love seeing how different people react, ‘cuz it’s never the same but it’s always fun.
- Take me through a morning, getting to the actual school: The hardest part is waking up. We get to the makeup room, usually, I’ll plan for about an hour for makeup. Then whatever we have for travel time, I’ll usually put 30 minutes on top of it, so if it’s fifteen minutes away I’ll plan on leaving forty-five minutes early because of traffic in the morning – traffic is the worst. So, once we get into the school, they get in and get their makeup on, we pack the costumes, then we pack the truck with our stuff. Because at the end of every performance, we have to unload the truck and put our set and props and costumes back in storage, so we have to load it up every morning.Then we head out. Once we get to the school, we set up and the actors get into costume. We put on the show. Then we break down and we get lunch – which is one of my favorite parts.
- Do you participate with the actors in the workshops the Young Company presents at these schools: Sometimes I do. A lot of the time I spend that time packing the van and making sure everything is ready to go.
- Have there been any travel challenges: We’ve had pretty good luck with that. There haven’t been too many problems. Once, we had somebody get into an accident. They were able to make it to the show, but they met us there. We did have one actor, who will remain unnamed, who came late and we weren’t able to get a hold of him, but it worked out.
- How comforting is it to know that someone has already set up all of the schools for you: Super comforting. That would make my job a lot more difficult. I’m really appreciative of everybody else that helps me in the process.
Glorious Story Emporium:
- Have you worked with anyone else in the Glorious Story Emporium:
- I took a class with Patrick [Livingston, the Director] last semester. It was an improv class, just so I could get an understanding of that.
- Paige Fletcher, she’s one of the actresses, I worked with her. She was in the class with me, so I’ve done improv with her. She’s great.
- Rick, I haven’t worked with him but we went to KCACTF together. We were in the same room and we have become really good friends.
- What’s your connection to storytelling: I absolutely love storytelling. When we were little, my dad used to read us Chronicles of Narnia. You know those old pictures where you would see children hanging around the radio listening to the radio with no tv? We used to do that with the Harry Potter books. We’d put the books on tape on and we’d all just sit around and listen to it. I’ve actually written a little bit of poetry that’s been published in various anthologies. So, I’m big into storytelling. I just love being able to look into another world. And I’m a huge Tolkien fan. Tolkien is kind of my idol.
- Any shout outs: Shout out to my wife, Kiersa, who’s been supportive through all this. We’ve been married about a year now, a little over a year.
- What story represents your story of how you met: Oh, probably the Disney version of The Princess and the Frog. She’s a hard worker and she wasn’t really expecting me to drop into her lap. I’m more of a guy going around and playing the ukulele. We met and she was not expecting anybody, and I just kind of wooed her off her feet after a while. And now we’re married.
I would just say that if anyone is thinking about whether or not they want to go into theatre, I absolutely recommend it. Do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life.