Monday, August 29, 2011

Woodward Interns Give Us The Scoop!

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, among many others.

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.

Amanda Scott
Greetings! My name is Amanda, and I am the current scenic art intern here at the Playhouse. I am originally from Syracuse, NY and I just graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a degree in Theatre Arts. After I’m finished here in Westport, I will be heading up to Hartford where I will be embarking on a 9 month scenic art apprenticeship at Hartford Stage.

This is actually my second summer at the Playhouse and there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to return. Every day working here is just different and exciting. I was trying to think about what typical day for me was like, but really the only thing that’s typical is that I never know what to expect.  When the staff scenic artist is here, we can spend hours carving giant blocks of styrofoam into the shapes of rocks with chainsaws, or dousing sheets of steel with vinegar so that they will rust faster, or simply painting one type of wood to look like a different type of wood. I’ve worked with 2 really talented scenic artists and a handful of excellent, accomplished set designers here at the Playhouse and I have learned so much from them all.

Between shows when the scenic artist isn’t here my days are completely different. Working with the carpenters and electricians is great, but I do like changing out of my paint-stained work clothes occasionally. I love helping out with events such as Taste of Tuesday or Ladies Night, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with nearly every department here at the Playhouse. Interning here allows me to focus on what I love, which is scenic art, but also exposes me to everything else that has to happen in order for us to put show on stage in front of an audience.  Being here really does feel like I’m home.

Emily Stromberg
I am a Westport native and former Staples Player. This fall, I will be going into my senior year as a BFA Theatre Design and Production major at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!).  In the summer of 2006, I took part in the Apprenticeship program for high school students.  It was there that I first discovered my passion for stage management and since then, I have always hoped to be able to return as an intern. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to come back this summer.  While at the theatre, I served as a stage management intern on two productions.  You may have seen me in my starring role as the Maid in The Circle, where I did scene shifts and checked props, all while trying to remain in character! I was also given the chance to call the second act of the show for the last two weeks of the run.  Having all of the lighting and sound cues resting on my shoulders was a big responsibility, but it was definitely a worthwhile and exhilarating experience.  The second show I did at the Playhouse was Lips Together, Teeth Apart.  Those of you that saw the show will know that there was a lot of food onstage.  One of my main jobs was being in charge of food prep.  This included everything from refilling bottles to cutting and cleaning produce to prepping burgers.  Although the job is not always glamorous, it is important to remember that every team member’s job is important to the success of the show.  Each production offered unique challenges and wonderful opportunities for learning and networking.  I am so grateful for the experiences I had this summer at the Playhouse.  Working with such amazing people in a fast paced, exciting setting was everything I could have hoped for in a summer internship. 

Allison Van Driel
Travelling half-way across the country from Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, I have come to the Westport Country Playhouse as the Arts Management/Finance Intern for the 2011 Season.  It has been a riveting experience which has lived up to everything I wanted in an internship:  a way of utilizing both my areas of study, Accounting and Theatre, in a fun, upbeat environment full of wonderful people. 
Starting my very first day, I was thrown right into the rhythm of business at the Playhouse, working with Managing Director Michael Ross and Artistic & Management Associate Kim Furano on many different tasks, including preparations for committee and board meetings by means of preparing materials and refreshments or creating graphs for presentations.  I also quickly jumped into the Finance Department, assisting Director of Finance Sharon Boilini and Business Associate Mallory Triest with many different accounting and human resource tasks.  In addition to these tasks specific to my position, I have also been helping the Marketing Department with preparation and operation of preview week events, which means serving a lot of wine and cheese! There’s no better way to celebrate Opening Nights with Playhouse patrons!
One of the most rewarding aspects of my position as an intern is the amazing people I get to work with every day!  Each person has a different journey of how they came to work at the Playhouse, and I have learned many invaluable words of wisdom from them all.  Since I started, I have gained a familiarity with some of the programs and processes that will benefit me as I continue to work in this industry.  In addition, I hope to walk away from the Playhouse having developed the organizational and collaborative skills that will help me as I further pursue a career in theatre management.

Photos by Kathleen O'Rourke

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