In The Spotlight
March 7, 2023

Jake Kooiker

Jake Kooiker moved with his family to Washington Island approximately eight years ago. As he describes, his start on stage was acting in the play “Shadowlands” at the Trueblood Performing Arts Center. Now completing his senior year of high school, you’ll find Jake in the Control Booth managing the lighting for TPAC performances.
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When did you first get involved with Island Players?

I first got involved with Island Players when I was in middle school. At a church service, Howard Scott came to me offering a supporting role in Shadowlands as Douglas Gresham. I accepted, which led me into the wonderfully artistic world of theater. It was fairly extensive, considering it was my first role in a major production with little previous experience.

Have you ever been involved in theater before?

I only had a limited amount of experience before working with Island Players. I performed at the TPAC once for a school production about Rock Island as Jean Nicolet. Aside from that, I had not performed prior to joining Island Players.

What have been your favorite Island Players productions?

On Golden Pond was my favorite by far. It featured a fun, heartwarming atmosphere with humor that could amuse all ages. Working with the cast through this production was an enjoyable experience that I still reminisce about today.

If you have been on stage, what are some different roles you have played?

The roles I have played are Douglas Gresham, Billy Ray, and Willie Metcalf from Shadowlands, On Golden Pond, and Island Player’s anniversary production respectively. My favorite role to play was Billy Ray from On Golden Pond, as Billy was a fun character with goofy antics. My favorite moment with him was when Billy steals cookies from his grandparent’s kitchen, but karma strikes back at him and he spills them everywhere.

Why do you think theater is important on Washington Island?

I believe theater is important on Washington Island for a plethora of reasons. It gives everyone a chance to try at a hobby inclusive to both young, old, and everything in between. I would’ve never learned my passion for theater if I wasn’t offered my first role. Additionally, unlike in larger cities and towns, audience members can recognize the actors as they play roles. This gives a sense of intimacy in the community that isn’t always present in other locations. Lastly, having Island Players productions gives another dimension to the culture here. In the dead of winter when everything is quiet and slow, Island Players gives an opportunity for people to congregate where they otherwise might not have. Overall, I believe that theater strengthens the community of Washington Island, for both actors and audiences alike.

How did you become involved in tech?

I got involved in the tech aspect of theater purely by chance! The art teacher, Melanie Jones, mentioned that the school and TPAC would like to bridge a better relationship. A method of doing such was to have a youth apprentice from the school actively work with the theater. I replaced my art class with the TPAC internship, and it turns out that I have an aptitude for doing lighting. After the school year ended, I was offered a job to do lighting at the TPAC, which I happily accepted.