Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let's hear it for the 2011 Woodward Interns!

Westport Country Playhouse is home to one of the nation’s preeminent theater internship programs. The training of emerging professionals in the theater has formed a vital part of our mission since 1946. Graduates of our program include Stephen Sondheim and Mary Rodgers Guettel.

While on campus, interns work directly with senior staff and gain crucial on-the-job experience in a vibrant and innovative theater. Over the coming weeks, our 2011 Woodward Interns will share a little bit about their experience at the Playhouse this summer right here on The Playhouse Blog.

    Alayna George
I am from Saint Louis, Missouri born and raised. I go to a small private school called Lindenwood University where I will graduate this December with a BA in Arts Management, emphasis in theater administration. Coming to the Playhouse was my first choice for the summer because I love its proximity to bigger cities like Hartford and New York. I also love the Playhouse’s amazing 80-year legacy.  Currently I am handling the coordination of special events here at the Playhouse such as Taste of Tuesday, LGBT Night OUT, and one of our Young Professionals Network events. I also worked on coordinating the 80th Birthday Celebration last month. I think the most amazing thing about my internship is that it doesn’t feel like an internship. I have my own desk area with ability for email and phone correspondence, as well as my own personal contacts within the community.  The responsibilities I have at the Playhouse make me feel like a regular member of the staff. It gives me the opportunity to be creative and take initiative in ways I never could in a classroom setting. I hope to leave this program with a deeper knowledge and appreciation for all of the hard work that goes into making theater so great. Seeing everyone here become such a close community and be so passionate about their jobs really inspires me to keep striving for a career that I can love and enjoy. I feel very blessed to be a part of Westport Country Playhouse and the excellence it achieves, even if it is just for a little while.

    Martha Stout
I am from Southport, CT, which is just about a 12-15 minute drive down the Post Road from the Playhouse. This fall, I will be a junior at Emerson College, which is located centrally in Boston's theatre district. I grew up seeing theatre at the Playhouse all my life and listening to my Mom's stories from when she was the in-house stage manager at the Playhouse when she was just a little bit older than I am now. My Dad has also been in a few plays at the Playhouse. So when in 2007 I found out about the Apprentice Program, I jumped at the opportunity to apply and when I got in- I was thrilled. It was thee best summer of my life. Then, last summer I worked in the box office and this summer I'm back as an intern! I couldn't be more thrilled to be here. The Playhouse feels like a kind of home to me and I just adore it and all its employees. I was a Production Assistant on The Circle and went into rehearsal every day in NYC until it moved to Westport for tech. Then we were teching, then we opened and then we closed. It sounds simple when I put it like that, but it was truly an amazing experience to watch a show grow from nothing into what it became by the middle of our run. Now, I am transitioning into working in the offices- specifically in Marketing and Development. The other day, I took Ruby (one of the Playhouse's cars) and a bunch of posters and postcards from our production of Lips Together, Teeth Apart and I rode around to Wilton and Stamford going to different establishments on a list I had and asking them verrrrrrrry nicely if they would be willing to put up one of our posters or take some postcards to lay out for their customers to peruse. I'm eager and excited to learn more about Marketing and Development: aspects of the theatre world that I don't really know much about. I feel so honored and lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people every day at work- the permanent staff, the rest of the interns, and all the actors and crews that come through this theatre are such amazing people. That is definitely the most rewarding part of this internship. To be able to have the opportunity to watch other people who really know what they're doing at work, is a thrill and a privilege. I hope to walk away from the Playhouse this summer knowing more about the business/management aspects of theatre. I first fell in love with the theatre as an actor, and I still love that, but it is so important to me to learn about the rest of what goes on in any great theatre company. That and, hopefully, also walk away knowing that I'll be back to the Playhouse in some other capacity in no time.

    Kat Campagna 
I am originally from Watertown, CT, and when it was time to do the college search, I found myself with a case of wander lust. I applied blindly to a college in North Carolina, and was shocked and thrilled when I was accepted with a high academic scholarship. This is how I ended up at Catawba College. Though nearly no one in the northeast has heard of Catawba, I plan to put the school on the map through my accomplishments. The first of many is my summer internship at the Westport Country Playhouse. When I was hired, what I looked forward to the most was working in a professional environment with people who would be able to quench my thirst for knowledge. I have not been let down. In my short time here what I have learned has exceeded my expectations. As the wardrobe intern, moving from The Circle to Lips Together Teeth Apart has been an interesting experience because not only did I have the opportunity to see how to care for costumes of a period piece, but I also get to see how that differs from costume care and upkeep for a semi contemporary show. When I am at the Playhouse I feel like a valued member of the team. So far the most rewarding factor has been the time I have spent with my supervisor Lisa Ficco. She genuinely cares that I take everything I can from this internship. Though I am still a novice, she is patient and understanding as I learn the tricks of the trade. Lisa has also offered to help me brainstorm on my costume design for the fall when I head back to school for my senior year. As an intern I never expected this one on one time dedicated to my education that I have received thus far. This summer I have kept a journal with everything I have learned and when I head back to Catawba in the fall I can't wait to impart what I have learned. I also plan to encourage the underclassmen to apply for this internship. An internship is an invaluable experience on its own, but an internship at the Westport Country Playhouse is so much more than a great experience, but a positive step towards your future in the world of theatre or wherever your endeavors take you. From this experience I feel confident in my future in theatre because of the positive, professional, exposure the Woodward Internship Program has provided. 

    Melissa Cail
I came to the Playhouse this summer hoping to learn how to make money—not for myself, but for the theater I hope to someday run.  I’ve spent the past seven weeks working in the Development department learning the ins and outs of fundraising, a job that sometimes involves asking for money or helping to run events and one, like most positions here at the Westport Country Playhouse, that always involves large amounts of wine and cheese. Apart from learning how to operate a bottle opener, one of the most important things I’ve learned this summer is how to navigate Tessitura, a software program used by performing arts organizations that manages ticketing, fundraising and marketing activities.  I started early on by doing some “data hygiene” projects, standardizing the way information is recorded in customer records, and now I use it to enter the gifts that the theater receives every day. One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most during my time with the Playhouse is the sense of community that is present both within the staff here but also amongst the larger community of Board members and other supporters who attend performance and special events on a regular basis.  I’ve also enjoyed getting to know my fellow interns.  My first weekend here, I was surprised to find that two fellow interns were willing to stand in line with me for over four hours to get standing room tickets to see The Book of Mormon; it’s been great to work and live with people who are just as passionate about theater as I am. At the end of the summer, I will return to Yale University where I am a rising junior double majoring in Theater and American Studies.  My big project for the upcoming semester is producing the Yale Dramat’s fall mainstage, Sweeney Todd, which will be my first—and hopefully not my last—experience producing a professionally directed and designed show.

Photos by Kathleen O'Rourke

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