Monday, August 11, 2014

My Summer at the ASC

ASC Intern Blog Post

            It amazes me that I’m sitting back at home after finishing the internship I’ve been preparing for since last December. My relationship with the Atlanta Shakespeare Company began on a drive home from holiday festivities at my grandfather’s house when my older sister asked me what my plans were for the coming summer. I had none. But I knew I wanted to find a summer position teaching or working with a theater company, and after a quick search on her iPhone my sister found an opportunity that afforded both experiences. Best of all, the opportunity was at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company. As a member of the Wellesley College Shakespeare Society, I knew this would be the place for me. I was fortunate enough that the people at the ASC thought so too (perhaps because I had to do my Skype interview in costume for a performance due to scheduling constraints). I was eating sushi with my sister a few weeks later when I got the email that I’d been offered the internship in the ASC’s education department. I knew I’d been afforded an incredible opportunity, but only time would show me what a watershed moment this summer would be.
            My first month at the ASC was spent in the education office learning the ropes of administration. I was truly impressed by the efforts my supervisors made to ensure my fellow interns and I were exposed to all aspects of life in the company, giving the perspective and range of skills necessary for young professionals in an artistic field. We observed rehearsals, learned the computer program used for box office transactions, and practiced writing grant proposals. My favorite project was writing a study guide for a lesson on A Midsummer Night’s Dream that the ASC will bring to elementary schools next year. But in the midst of organizing lesson plans and costume closets, there was still time for play during text classes. These workshops were a chance for us interns to work with ASC teaching artists on monologues and scenes that we eventually presented in a mock audition and a final performance the last night of our internship. In addition, we were offered advice on headshots, resumes and cover letters. The ASC was truly invested in our development as young professionals and as artists, and I’ve come away from it with a clearer idea of what it means to be in a company and what I can do to contribute to the people and the work there.

            If the administrative portion of my internship revealed how I go about a career in the arts, my time assisting the Shakespeare Intensive for Teens program reminded me why I’m pursuing a future in theater. The passion of these students was overwhelming, something I recognized from when I was younger.  I now had an opportunity to help them cultivate their talent and creativity as others have helped me.  One afternoon my administrative duties brought me into the SIT students’ rehearsal of Hamlet. I’ll never forget standing transfixed as these high-schoolers performed a glorious arrangement of “Come Away Death,” a poignant beginning to a remarkable production. It was a glimpse of what awaited me during the second half of my internship, which I would spend working with the next group of SIT students on a production of Othello. My students were smart, hardworking, and delightful to watch on stage. They were exceptionally open and honest with their thoughts and feelings, whether handling an emotionally challenging scene during rehearsal or sharing their opinions on Weird Al Yankovic over lunch. Almost instantaneously, I felt connected to each of these young actors. Barriers of self-consciousness broke down and we all were our freest selves. Our best selves. Through the collective endeavor of storytelling, we learned and shared for four short weeks. It was an inspiring, joyful, humbling experience. All too soon, Othello was over and I prepared to head home for the remainder of my summer. My last day at the theater, I found myself lingering in the green room backstage, not wanting to leave. I realized what a home I’d found at the ASC. Though parting is such sweet sorrow, I’m thankful for my summer at the ASC and go forward confident in my path as an actress and teaching artist. 

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