NK 2009 alum Andrew Fields sent this email to the YA office staff, describing his experience meeting up with the Fall Europe Tour in Germany while he and 12 other alumni were touring with Marvel Universe Live.
Perhaps you saw pictures on Facebook or heard from Jordan/Maurice but I and a few other old YA’s got to live out our greatest memories yesterday while we spent time with the European Tour. I and the other 12 Young Americans that work on Marvel Universe Live are touring throughout Europe for 6 months ending in February, yet in all of that time we are only in our beloved Germany for this one week. When I looked at the Europe tour schedule I couldn’t believe that in our one week here, the cast would be a 25 minute train ride away. On top of that our entire crew had a mandatory day off due to venue restrictions, which is very rare. With all of those coincidences falling into place I can’t help but to think that it was meant to be.
At first we just observed and enjoyed taking it in. Later a few of us jumped into the trenches and tried to be helpful. Making roll bow lines was just as fun as I remember and transitioning from the circle dance to the half circle (for the gazelles to dance) is just as hard. Playing high five games with younger kids and acting like pro wrestlers with the middle school boys reminded how much I loved the smaller moments. It was such a great experience to participate in workshop again, although it did show me how out of shape I am.
I really enjoyed the cast as well. There are quite a few Music Man folks on this cast which was a pleasant surprise. Colleen, Adam, Hannah, Ben and Tom all did a great job. I may be forgetting a few more. Dylan Stiles, who at the very first Nebraska camps was in my camp family… of 7th graders going into 8th, was a delight to watch as well. Other than that I didn’t know any of the NKs, but I believe that their future is bright. Maurice and Zach seemed very mature in their roles as well. The whole cast was so nice to be around.
Since my last tour 3.5 years ago I’ve seen multiple workshop shows and it always brings back great memories and emotions. This however, was the first time I’d been back to a workshop while numbers were still being taught. We all enjoyed witnessing the teaching/learning aspect this time around. Most of us were only there for about 3 hours but that was plenty of time to fill our cups. It is always a treat to be back in the YA culture.
I often reflect on the opportunities and experiences I had when touring and I feel as though I have a good grasp on how special it all was. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I recognized an important ingredient to the YA magic. During the Lion King circle Zach asked the cast “what do the kids need this town”. One after one cast members replied with different responses, all spoken with positivity through passion. It may not seem unusual for a lion king circle, at least it didn’t to me when I was doing one every few days, but I hadn’t heard someone speak passionately in a positive way in quite a while. I’ve yet to find another place where that kind of talk is the status quo. From working in television to production to the tour I’m on now and from friends to family to fellow colleagues I only see this kind of thing once in a blue moon. Don’t get me wrong, I share plenty of smiles and laughs and have great talks and discussions daily. But whenever I hear some speak passionately it’s about a social issue or political standpoint. I hear people speak with passion but it’s rooted in negativity or anger. I often think positively and passionately but rarely do I talk about it aloud and when I do it’s to no more than a handful of friends. No where near the 40 or so of a tour cast.
I have found that there are plenty of great people in this world. People that believe in the future, and care about the well-being of us all. The issue is finding an avenue to express those emotions. And on top of that walking down that found avenue with others of the same mindset.
I know that the majority of alumni understand what they gained from the YA’s. We understand how special it was to do what we did. But for me it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized the platform YAs gives us so that people can shine their light. Young Americans is still a big part of my life. I’ve lived with YAs, I’ve dated YA’s, my best friends are YA’s and again, I’m currently working with 12 YA’s day in and day out. Yet In our lives, jobs and daily routine it’s uncommon, maybe even non existent, to come together as a family, discuss how to make the world a better place and then turn around and watch it happen.
The Marvel Universe show that I work on is a huge production. 35 trucks, 150 cast/crew/staff/merch. We nearly sold out the O2 arena in London for all of our 18 shows there and yet what the audience takes away is only on the surface. It doesn’t compare to what happens in a YA workshop, not even in the slightest.
I guess the last few paragraphs would be labeled as opinion but I could argue that it’s fact. I feel very blessed to have been in such a unique organization and I wanted to say thanks for all of the opportunities that I have been given.
Bill, you’ve said that “you’re always a student” and I have always agreed. I just didn’t realize The Young Americans would continue to be my teacher.
Thank you for so much,