We asked Jennifer and Caitlin, our two college interns for the Shakespeare Intensive for Teens program, to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about their experiences this summer. Here's what they had to say...
My name is Jennifer Latimore and I am a rising senior at the University of Georgia, pursuing a dual degree in Theatre and Mass Media Arts. Acting has always been a passion of mine and during my college career, I have learned a plethora of techniques. More importantly I have learned countless things about myself, one of which being my comfort zone. As I push these limits in thought and action, I realize that every opportunity is a chance for growth. My most recent role as Lady Macbeth in University Theatre's production of Macbeth let me explore the multiple facets of what it means to be human. This was a chance to go outside my comfort zone and question everything about the human morale and what that meant to Lady Macbeth. As much as I love acting, I love being able to share my knowledge and love with others. The Education Internship at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company lets me do just that.
Before beginning my stay at the Tavern, I knew that a challenge had been set forth; a complete submersion in the administrative and teaching aspects of a theatre company. It was a challenge I was nervous about, but also one that I knew would expose me to fresh ideas and creative opportunities. I did not know what to expect from the administrative portion of the internship, seeing as I had never been exposed to arts administration for an extended period of time. In order to have a job in the theatre though, I knew that knowing how a theatre is run was an invaluable understanding to have. In addition to arts administration, fostering a passion for Shakespeare in young students was an opportunity I could not pass up. I reminisced on the countless theatre camps I attended during my summers in high school and how much those impacted my life. This internship was the perfect opportunity to witness the power of theatre camp and also play a role in the exploration and discoveries the students would make during their month at the Tavern.
As I finished my administrative duties, I realized that I thoroughly enjoyed my responsibilities. I got the chance to put my organization skills to good use and learned just how important time management and punctuality are in the work place. I also got first hand experience with grant writing, from the research, writing and proofreading all the way to sending off the finished product. It is imperative that we continue to fight for the arts; that was the main understanding I took away. While there are many artists and educators who understand the power of art, the battle to keep the arts a relevant and necessary subject still continues. I will continue the fight to keep arts alive and with my new administrative knowledge, I now know the most effective ways of doing so. Moreover, my current work in the education portion of the internship has shown me a completely new way of thinking. It's one thing to just tell an actor what to do on stage, but it's another to guide them to figure out their own new directions and think for themselves. This technique is used in the summer camp classroom and each time I observe the directors using it, I am baffled by its effectiveness and strive to do the same as I interact with the students. In short, these students are being taught to think and deduce. Not only does this make them better actors, but better people as well; people who can think for themselves and depend on their own instincts to make decisions. As I finish out the last leg of this internship, I will continue to help students push their own boundaries and stretch their creative abilities. This opportunity has been nothing short of what I expected; a chance to grow in passion, in exploration and in knowledge.
Last spring, I participated in Furman University’s production of “The Winter’s Tale” and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. My professors gave many lectures about properly interpreting Shakespeare’s text by delving into the folio, deciphering the difference between prose and verse, and most importantly, understanding how tiny linguistic changes such as grammar and spelling could completely alter the meaning of a phrase. It was always fascinating to read Shakespeare’s work in a classroom setting, but this newfound love of his text and style inspired me to apply as an intern for the “Shakespeare Superheroes” and “Shakespeare Intensive for Teens” programs at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company.
After receiving the offer to work with high school students, the anticipation was that I would mainly observe the kids and work as the communication bridge between the students and instructors. I did not have any formal expectations because I had never worked with the age group before, and had no concept of the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s teaching methods. Prior to my internship I received acting training from numerous directors, but had never been introduced to “Original Practice” in the theatre. After the first week of observing my teaching artists Andy Houchins and Jennifer Acker, I realized that every single play I performed in thus far incorporated Stanislavski’s method of the “Fourth Wall” (including my two collegiate leads, Theresa in Circle Mirror Transformation and Delia in Beautiful Child). The Tavern’s idea that the actors could use the audience as scene partners was an astounding and foreign concept to me. Through an example exercise led by Andy and Jennifer, I realized that a scene is more engaging for me as an audience member when the two actors directly address my presence in their scene.
Another huge discovery made during the process was the manner in which the directors asked questions to instruct the student actors, and just how powerful this teaching method can be to creative students. In my experience, directors would tell me what to do and explain why they made decisions, but never before had I seen students making their own discoveries based on pointed, inspiring questions. I was so grateful to have this experience working with the Atlanta Shakespeare Company this summer and observing some of the most passionate and talented teaching artists I’ve ever met. During my internship, I was exposed to so many different theatrical methods and exercises that I will definitely utilize in my own future education endeavors!
Above: Cast members of the 2013 June SIT production of 'Love's Labors Lost.'