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Golden’s star rises on national stage

Jack GoldenRising Star Jack Golden’s story is very “BSC-centric” he says. Golden was an Eagle Scout but says he wasn’t a great student. He didn’t know what he wanted to do after high school, so he enrolled at Bismarck State College and took business and political science classes. He thought maybe he’d major in economics.
A theatre class changed everything. He was surprised to find he liked the class, and it led to a scholarship, which required he take part in a BSC theatre production. His single goal was to avoid a stage role. He was cast as a deck electrician.

“I remember very clearly the first day working on the show. I remember being so thrilled. It was so much fun, so interesting. When I told friends about it, I was almost dancing with joy.”
Despite that reaction, it took him a while to commit to theatre. Golden comes from a family of lawyers. In fact, his parents are judges.Jack Golden set
Dean Bellin, BSC associate professor of technical theatre, pushed him toward the inevitable. “He said, ‘Jack, you’re a theatre major. If you walk like a duck and talk like a duck, you’re a theatre major.’”
When he told his mother, Judge Gail Hagerty, his plans, she was supportive but couldn’t help but mention the family business. “She told me, ‘a lot of trial lawyers go to acting school first.’”
While Hagerty says it does help to “have a little bit of drama in you to practice law and try cases,” she says her son’s choice wasn’t a great surprise. “Jack has always been very creative. For instance, as a kid he made everything out of duct tape – backpack, shoes, pants… this went on for years.”
Creativity is a requirement in Golden’s work as a set designer. All that duct tape design was a good foundation for building a set – physically and conceptually. “We are the architects, and the tech directors are the engineers. We draw the front of the item, and the tech comes and does the back of it,” Golden explains.Jack Golden set 3

Using both hand drafting and computer aided design, Golden determines elevations and texture, directs the painting and any other tasks needed to realize the vision. He often builds quarter-inch scale models of a set using a variety of materials and tools – such as 3D printers, balsa wood, fabric and laser cutters.
Golden loves the collaborative nature of his work and the connections it creates. “[Set designers] get to make art with other people. Studio artists make what they want and control the process, but I have traveled around the country and made art with directors, lighting designers and costume people. We’re making something together, sharing vision and putting it out there as a group. That’s a spectacular thing.”
After BSC, Golden earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from North Dakota State University, then spent more than a year traveling around and working with an array of theatre companies all over the country, including Thunder Bay Theatre, Ozark Actors Theatre, Theatre B in Fargo and many others. He was featured in American Theatre magazine's "Role Call - People to Watch" in January 2018, and won the 2017 Broadway World Regional Reader's Choice award (DC area) for "Most Creative Scenic Design (Small Professional Theatre)”.Jack Golden set 2
Bellin, in his letter nominating Golden for the Rising Star Award, says the level of recognition Golden has achieved at his age is unprecedented. “[T]heatre artists of his age simply do not have the credits he’s amassed… Few people who start in the career path of designer ever get the opportunity to work professionally. Fewer still have had the success and earned the trust of their peers such as Jack has.”
“To put it simply, what Jack has done with his career this far is nothing short of remarkable.”
Hagerty credits faculty mentors, like Bellin and BSC Professor Emeritus Dan Rogers, for helping her son pursue his passion. “He found something he really loved and that was nurtured by the mentors he found there. We feel like BSC was a real gift to him.”
Golden’s Midwestern roots and education are definitely part of his success, but Golden also recognizes the importance of what he did not get as a factor. “I got a lot from my North Dakota schooling but didn’t get the east coast contacts. Because I didn’t have that right away, I was really focused on it.”
Currently earning a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre at the University of Maryland, Golden says this terminal degree opens doors in the theatre world. “We get paid to build models and draft for the professors when they take a job.”
Those jobs are sometimes high profile. One professor regularly works with Penn and Teller, and Golden recently helped build a model for a show at the Kennedy Center.
“My dream is to continue to work up to bigger regional theaters and make a living in the League Of Resident Theatres – like the Guthrie [Theater]. “
Golden says his career, and how he got to it, have much to do with BSC. “I’m the poster child for someone who didn’t have direction and found it there. It was so unique to go to BSC and have theatre be such a huge and vibrant department. They taught me the skills, but they also taught us to have passion for what we do.”