The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

What we’re thankful for
What we’re thankful for
February 11, 2024
Prepare for cold
Prepare for cold
February 11, 2024
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Nathan Ko ’23: On Everything We Can Be

Nathan Ko ’23 on the NEO stage.

Nathan Ko. There’s a spark to the name. It shimmers of stage lights, Shakespeare, jazz, art, activism, politics, culture, spirit, charisma, complexity, and connection. The line, “This above all, to thine own self be true,” spoken by Corambis and performed by Ko in Hamlet could not speak better to the actor’s nature.

“I’d say I’m just a man walking with my spirit,” Ko said.

Ko recently had the chance to explore said spirituality and religious identity throughout the year. In a world full of seemingly impossible-to-avoid determiners of self worth, he’s found stability in his values.

“When I got back to my faith this year and when I started going back to church, there was something very nice about your value as a person being constant,” Ko said.

Whenever he is walking, whether it be across the stage or across the quad, he doesn’t do so alone. Instead, he walks with the gusto of everyone who he can call a friend. The support and upliftment from friends are a cloud Ko can fall back on, as if he’s always coasting through life.

“And that’s what I love. It’s that all the people here at Loomis are such big fans of you. You do a play here, and at the end you can see all your friends in the lobby,” Ko said. “We cheer and support each other.”

The path to stardom was nowhere near simple. In his freshman year, Ko hadn’t gone past auditions for Macbeth.

“One of the actors who played Banquo, Tom Zang, I remember at an international student dinner, said, are you going to audition for the musical?” Ko said. “Coming to the US, having like an older Asian guy on the stage killing it was something that really encouraged me. And then I auditioned for The Addams Family, which was much better … I was still cut, so sour grapes.”

Ko was raised in Seoul, South Korea. Having attended the same school for the majority of his upbringing, Ko dealt with nervousness around friendships following his arrival at Loomis.

He soon found a home within PASA (Pan Asian Student Alliance), especially through conversations with Kim Saem, who helped him explore his Korean identity in aspects that were new to him.

“When I do art, I’m embracing traditions that come from my heritage. Theater in Korea has so much trust in the audience and is very comfortable with working through nuances and contradictions on stage,” Ko said.

Following the pandemic theater of Antigonick, in which he acted over Zoom, Ko found himself on the true NEO stage for the first time within The Love of Three Oranges as an ensemble member. Next, he found himself within Spamalot as Prince Herbert.

Alongside theater, Ko is a leader of LC Young Democrats and a Shultz Fellow. In the political scene, he aims to find ways to make change on a tangible and active level. One such method involves combining his love for politics and theater.

“Doing theater here and being interested in politics might seem distant. But I see them to be so closely aligned,” Ko said.
“When I did my play To Be Free, it was really a critique on the morality of selling your soul when you’re in a position of power. How might that feel? And that’s why I’m a big fan of theater. It … has such a power on the audience, and it can be a political weapon,” Ko said.

Ko works to lean into theater as a political weapon. He moves towards strife as a method of expression. This philosophy carries into his most recent production in the Nichols Center, Some Jazz Was Playing.

“It is a relationship trying to endure the absurdity of life … I just [thought] that it would be such a cool idea to merge jazz and theater together because my personal philosophy is that theater is something that emerges through conflict,” Ko said.

After Loomis, Ko is headed off to Columbia University to pursue Drama and Theater Arts. As Some Jazz was Playing will be the last of Ko’s productions at Loomis, the performance stands as a final testament to his work within the performing arts.

Aside from the performance industry, Ko’s testament to his time at Loomis Chaffee has been the connections he has made along the way. He’s learned to embrace the joy that comes from friendship.

“Being able to be vulnerable with your friends takes time, but you have to make sure that they know that whatever mood they’re in, whether they’re happy or sad, they can still be with you,” Ko said.

It’s hard to imagine anything as constant within an environment where terms speed by faster than you can remember them. Nevertheless, for Ko, it’s the moments we do remember that truly count.

“I had so many 2:00 a.m. study sessions, so many cramming of tests, so many checking my lines right before going on stage. You forget all that. Once you become a senior in your senior spring, the only things you remember are the people and the relationships you’ve made and the connections you’ve made,” Ko said.

The word “Commencement” stems from the old French word commencier which means “to begin”. Commencent begins the journeys of many into a limitless world filled with possibility. Ko finds beauty in the infinite number of stories we can pursue.

“Because I do theater. I often think about this: like we’re not just characters on stage. We’re not just people who can be pigeonholed into a certain occupation. We’re all complex beings with emotions and pathways that might seem contradictory … I think we’re all a million different things,” Ko said.

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