Posted at 4p.m. May 1,2017

The Pasqua

Theater by passion and trade

Flag Raising

Theater by passion and trade

LCCC’s resident theater instructor has a true passion for the art form.

Photo by Cody Fox Illustration by Isaiah Colbert

A shy middle and high school student didn’t say a word until he reached his sophomore year at Sterling High School in northeast Colorado. There wasn’t much of a standalone theater program in his high school. When he was a junior, he was cast in a version of the “Mikado,” a Gilbert Sullivan musical.

It felt great.

His senior year, he was cast again in “The Music Man.” Coming to performance coincided with Jason Pasqua figuring out who he is today.

Pasqua was born in the farming community of Sterling.

After he graduated from high school, he went to Northeastern Junior College and pretty much knew he wanted to be in theater. His first teacher there was a man named Rick Kuebler, who passed away last year. Pasqua said he found success there as well and more growth in different kinds of roles. “There, over the course of two years, we did a variety of straight plays, not musicals,” Pasqua said.

“My parents had questions at first but then hopefully, like all parents, came to the realization. If you’re doing what you like and it makes you happy, you’ll find your way,” Pasqua said.

There are no artists in Pasqua’s family. Pasqua said he comes from a middleclass background. His mom was a teacher and his dad delivered chips for Frito Lay.

“They are marvelous people, and I thank them for everything,” Pasqua said. “They came to everything, even things that I’m quite sure were hard for them to watch. If you’re growing up in Sterling, Colorado, and you have an artistic inclination there aren’t a lot of role models around. That’s why Rick was so important to me, and that’s what I hope I can be for my students as well.”

When choosing theater as a career, the stereotype of not finding steady work wasn’t lost on Pasqua. “My parents had questions, I think that’s the job of parents. You want your children to be successful. But for some reason I do not understand why theater or the arts are somehow treated like it’s not possible to get a job in,” Pasqua said.

Over the course of the rest of his education, he transferred from NJC to the University of Wyoming, where he earned his bachelor of fine arts in performance, then he went to graduate school at Penn State for a year before earning his master of fine arts at the University of Idaho. It was around that time that he married Jenefer.

They met at UW in 1999 while they were both working on student-directed one-act plays. Drawn to Pasqua’s self-confidence and sense of humor, Jenefer asked him out.

After he finished his MFA, they moved to Seattle where she went to school. They moved to Seattle without jobs or an apartment.

“That time in a person’s life can be a great time. I was 26 I guess and you don’t really have any personal responsibilities just yet. You don’t have a house, we were married but had no children at that point,” Pasqua said. “We got to Seattle and found a place to live and eventually fell into being the resident managers of the apartment building. As I like to say the Mr. and Mrs. Roper of our building.”

Pasqua did a bit of writing and back and forth with friends who lived in Moscow, Idaho. A stage reading here and there, Pasqua had a job in the admissions department of the college his wife was attending.

“We were young and had no responsibilities except to each other and what we’d want to do. That moment where you postpone adulthood just a little bit longer,” Pasqua said.

When the theater instructor position opened 12 years ago for Laramie County Community College, Pasqua applied for it and came back to the area. “I figured at some point it would eventually happen and I’m glad it did because I love it,” Pasqua said.

“I think Jason will be remembered for his dedication to his craft and his students. He loves teaching others about theater and I think this is evident to anyone who works with him,” Jenefer Pasqua said.

If Pasqua could give a younger Jason advice he said it would be to absorb as much as you can from your teachers, mentors, or the people around you.

“You’ve got to go into the world finding good people to work with and not the prestige, not the big names. You’ve got to find a place where you are supported as a person. When you’re around a bunch of people who support you for who you are that’s the launching pad,” Pasqua said.

The arts and theater can be a place for ego. “There’s something natural about that. No one gets on stage because they aren’t feeling good about themselves,” Pasqua said. “The values that are important to me are collaboration, simple kindness.”

“One of the things about actor training is that there are a lot of rules of thought. Theatrical training can become dogmatic,” Pasqua said. “We try to stay focused in my program pragmatically.”

“There’s a stereotype of artists as being hippy dippy and we just feel it. We’re probably one of the most pragmatic people on earth. The theater is a place for order. We don’t go in without a plan. We are doing advanced problem solving. At the end of the day we’re very practical people,” Pasqua said.

“I feel like theater changed my perspective on things in so many ways,” Pasqua said. He now lives a more emotional, full life than he did when he was younger. “I think that I am a better parent, husband and person because I studied theater,” Pasqua said.

“I think the theater has made Jason more self-aware. The theater has also fulfilled him emotionally,” Jenefer Pasqua said.

Pasqua said he learned not to keep areas of his life compartmentalized. Theater gave Pasqua a perspective with respect to other people. “I am politically and socially a liberal and I think that is in no small part due to the experience we as artists have when we encounter stories. My ability to emotionally understand complex characters is present in my life daily,” Pasqua said.

“I try to be understanding and I fail at times but I think as storytellers we have parts of ourselves that get opened when you realize there is more than one correct answer. You get a play and you have a few characters on stage. This character wants this and the other character wants this for these reasons, and you know what, everybody’s right,” Pasqua said.

“If you can hold two or more seemingly contradictory ideas in your head and not have your brain explode, your mind is flexible enough to keep accepting more than one idea,” Pasqua said he tells his students.

“That’s probably why it was never math for me.”


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