At the American Shakespeare Center, we are fortunate to have a name that attracts people with talent. Of course, anyone who sees our shows recognizes the talent onstage, and that of the costumers, perhaps even the props person. Some will credit the directors, a few will think about the other artistic staff members: our amazing Associate Artistic Director, the Stage and Tour managers. What I appreciate more and more, though, as every summer arrives, are the talented interns who come to spend their summers with us.
Applications for positions in marketing, development, management, education, and artistic start rolling in as early as September, and our various department heads begin battling for the students most suited to their needs. We have students from Pennsylvania and from the University of Nebraska, and we’ve welcomed Utahans and Ohioans and folks from as close as JMU. Conversations in staff meetings turn from “I don’t really have time to take care of that immediately,” to “My intern arrives this week, we can has him/her to take on that project.” We begin developing long lists of wishes — research, formatting, filing, blogging, tracking — and divvying up tasks amongst departments. And then, blessedly, they arrive.
In education, we strive to give each intern an over-arching project that is their start-to-finish focus and that meets their career goals. Then, we add the fateful clause at the tail end of their contract, “And other duties as required.” Oh, that clause. That clause can encompass the interns attending workshops to give us feedback, going to rehearsals to develop ideas for new programming, stuffing envelopes, writing instructions, checking digital text against folio text, and so much more. That clause, that one clause, is what makes us look forward to the interns’ arrival. Certainly, we are excited about their projects, about getting to know these smart and talented people who will be leaders in Shakespeare, theatre, arts management, business and elsewhere, but the relief that settles on our staff when we realize that we can actually check some dreams off the list is, as Mastercard says, priceless.
Given that this year is a Blackfriars Conference year, that clause is even more meaningful to me personally. When we implemented a “blind” reading committee as part of our selection process in 2011, I knew there would be some work involved. I could not have imagined just how much formatting, futzing, and focusing it would take to actually make this initiative run. But that year, I had Brenna. She swooped in and took 24 hours worth of headaches off my hands. This year, Sarah — a wonderful recommendation from our dear friend Carole Levin at UNebraska — is making it possible for me to focus on new initiatives like our Consortium, and on overdue edits for our Playhouse Insider and camp plays, with the knowledge that I will still be able to get the abstracts to my committee on schedule. Ah, breathing. What a thing it is!
We’ve had some wonderful interns over the past several years, and I want to acknowledge each of their contributions and thank them for their work. I take a great deal of pride in seeing them go on to become professors, run their own theatre companies, direct plays, and, even, intern for other theatres (though that last one is harder). So, thanks to Kyle, Megan, Liz, Nuri, Carla, Sarah, Sara, Natalie, Amy, Rachel, Elizabeth, Mara, Grace, Maria, Kimberly, Abigail, Kendra, Jessica, Madeleine, Elena, Alex, Emily, Molly, Jane, Lia, Amy, Melissa and anyone I may have missed. You have transformed our department with your work and we at the OCS are forever grateful to you for picking up those other duties, or, as Shakespeare puts in in Cymbeline, “You were inspired to do those duties…” And you inspired us in so doing.
Some of their comments:
- Kelley McKinnon was a wonderful supervisor and always was available for questions or concerns. She made me feel welcome in the rehearsal space and welcomed any feedback that I had on what I was observing. The internship also provided a good opportunity to watch the OCS actors through an entire rehearsal process. I was also solicited by the director at times for my feedback on the actor’s character development, which I appreciated because it allowed me to think critically and creatively, as well as make me feel like I was actually a part of the process.
- I was always treated with respect and support. Interning at the OCS really feels like you are a valued part of the company and that the work you do matters.
- Everyone in the education department helped and supported me. I hope my own work helped them in some way.
- I felt like I was a necessary part of the process, and wasn’t just doing busy work.
- The department was helpful in creating a fun, lively environment. I never felt excluded or patronized, and was thanked every single day after work. I always felt like I was getting things done and making progress, and Jenny and Erin always made me feel like part of the OCS family.
- I took the internship to see how a theatre ran and what a theatre degree could do for me outside of traditional roles. My time with the OCS has helped me focus on what it is I would like my theatre degree to turn into in the future.
- The internship helped me develop research, communication, and management skills that will be useful in any field I pursue. When I entered the internship I had limited knowledge of the skills required to complete the internship but I acquired those skills quickly and can apply them to any job. The internship was a learning process that has set me up to succeed in any job I strive to attain.
- This internship gave me some great experience working with great people that I hope will help me continue to learn how to make connections and pursue work in professional theatre.
- Incredible opportunity to watch the process of one of the best Shakespeare companies in the country. Would recommend to anyone!
- The OCS inspired my current career path. In the best of all worlds I will be working for a theatre with similar ideas and goals. Everything I did and/or learned to do I will most likely do again; from the more glamorous tasks, such as doing research or analyzing verse, to the mundane, such as archiving and office moving.