If you’ve been to an event at the Lawrence Arts Center in the past ten years, chances are you’ve met, seen, and/or benefitted from the many talents of Jason Badgett. He’s been a key member of our team, in fact, there’s not a department that he hasn’t infiltrated and contributed to, and we would not have been the same without him.
Alas, we are but a small part of Jason’s life journey, he is moving on to conquer new dreams and explore new civilizations… like Texas. As anyone who has been a part of the LAC family, you know that your heart never truly leaves, your body just relocates. We wish all the best, knowing that his talents, impeccable work ethic, and fantastic fashion sense will serve him well as he navigates this next phase of his life.
We thought it would be fun to hear from the man himself, so here are a few answers that we thought you’d enjoy.
How long have you worked here?
Last September was my 10-year anniversary. I became aware of the Lawrence Arts Center when I attended the “Drop Your Shorts” film festival in 2010. Shortly after, I saw the LAC was looking for some part-time help in the theatre, and I applied immediately.
What was your first gig?
Many of my first gigs were working as a stagehand for the 940 Dance Company. It was my first time working with dance, which became a core part of my involvement at the Arts Center. I remember the first event that I worked solo was a cabaret-style show called “It’s All Relative” featuring Kirsten and Karin Paludan.
What was your weirdest gig?
I don’t know if this counts as a weird gig, but it was certainly different for me! I had been doing a lot of tech for shows with Ric Averill directing. I was supposed to be on the crew for our 2014 production of Pinocchio, but suddenly Ric asked me to be in the show, due to two actors dropping out last minute. So I joined the cast during tech week, learned my lines, some dance steps, and how to crack a bullwhip, and I performed on stage for the run of shows.
A few weeks after that, Ric was putting together a short play about monkeys who are being sent into space, and again he asked me to be in the show – this time as the lead! We performed the show in the black box theater as part of a series of short plays. I soon returned to my usual tech roles, but it was a wild experience to be on the other side of the spotlight.
What was your favorite gig?
How do you choose from so many options?! I don’t know that I could come up with a favorite; I have simply loved the variety of the work. It might be a ballet show one day, an art talk the next day, and then a rock concert after that. I never fully know what to expect, and I have always embraced the excitement and challenges of that.
What surprised you most about working here?
The whole cumulative experience. I did a little bit of tech theatre in high school, but I had no intention of it being part of my life after that. I joined the Arts Center thinking it would be a fun side gig for a few months. Before I knew it, I started having a lot of responsibilities, including being the interim Technical Director for a year and a half. I went from being someone who had barely touched a light board to being the lighting designer for many of the major theater and dance productions. It’s surreal to think about where I am now in my abilities versus when I started, and it’s all because of the opportunities and support provided by the Lawrence Arts Center.
What’s the strangest/coolest thing you’ve had to wear?
Two things come to mind. One is my ‘70s outfit that I wore for the LAC 40th Anniversary street party, complete with authentic sideburns. I had strangers taking pictures with me throughout the night.
Perhaps my best costume is from our James Bond themed fall fundraiser. I dressed up as the classic 007 villain Blofeld, with the iconic gray suit, shaved head, face scar, and even a stuffed white cat. Several people I had worked with for years did not even recognize me that night!
What is one thing you will take with you from your experiences here?
I will take with me a much stronger appreciation of the arts. I never expected to be so invested in the quality of a dance show, or to be so fascinated by an exhibition, or taking a class myself! But my time at the Arts Center has brought out that appreciation.
What will you miss the most?
I’m going to miss the energy. The thrill of pulling off a live event. The experience of getting a show through tech week to opening night. The exposure to such a diverse range of artists and projects. There is no shortage of creative stimulation at the Lawrence Arts Center, and it won’t be matched anywhere else I go.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The Lawrence Arts Center has been an incredible part of my professional and personal life over the last 10 years. I have no idea how I could summarize that journey, or describe how much the experience has meant to me. I am simply full of gratitude for the opportunity to have worked for an amazing organization, sharing experiences alongside incredible people. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the staff, and the community that it serves.
Check out Jason’s lighting reel HERE