Week One, Company One

I’ve been with Company One Theatre for exactly two weeks now, and while I know this blog post is supposed to focus specifically on my first week, I just had to wait until after the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of The Americas Conference I attended this past weekend so I could include it in this post (it was, as expected, an incredible experience).

But first things first: the first week. As soon as I started at Company One, I was thrown into the thick of things as I spent my entire first weekend helping organize and run auditions and callbacks for our next season. I’m working mainly with the casting director this summer, and my main projects involve the audition and callback processes for the company. Basically, I do what I did that weekend– help prepare for and organize the actual auditions– and I also work in the office (photo below) to do things like organize resumes and headshots and format audition notices, on this lovely street in Back Bay lined with theaters, jazz clubs, and delicious-smelling restaurants:

BCA
Company One is the resident theater at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA)

So, casting is my main focus. But, I’m also doing general office work and will be helping out with tech week and the performances for our summer show, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, by Natsu Onoda Power. Those duties vary a lot; for instance, I’ve worked on the program for the show, I’ve done inventory and organized the books and plays we’ll be selling in the lobby during the show, and I’ve applied for a liquor license (again, for the company, so we can have a bar at our performances, not for me).

And then, last Wednesday, my supervisor turned to me and asked, “Alison, do you know what dramaturgy is?” To which I embarrassingly said, “Kind of… dramaturgs do, like, research… right?”

“… Why don’t you go to this dramaturgy conference this weekend?”

And I did, I went to the LMDA annual conference in Boston. Not only did I learn a huge amount about dramaturgy and theater, but by the end of the conference I realized how much more I have to learn. Dramaturgs do do research, by the way, so I wasn’t technically wrong in my hesitant answer, but they do so much more and their duties vary so widely. From providing actors and directors and designers with the information they need to accurately and truthfully present a play, to helping plan a season for a theater company, to reaching out to communities and connecting the audience to the performances, to setting up interactional lobbies during shows– and so much more– dramaturgy is an under-discussed, under-appreciated, and incredibly useful job in the theater industry.

I got to go to a variety of talks, such as  “hot topics in dramaturgy” (which included philosophical dramaturgy, post-memory dramaturgy, living as an artist, and a poetic response of what it means to be a dramaturg), a panel on the relationship between dramaturgy and academia, a key-note speech given by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Wesley Morris (photo below), a networking panel, a panel on the future of theater, and a talk on dramaturgy and diversity. I was especially thrilled that I got to go to the dramaturgy and diversity talk and discuss how to make the theater more diverse in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability, because we, the theater world, are so far from being accurately representative of our actual population right now.

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Wesley Morris as the keynote speaker at the 2014 LMDA Conference

And that’s also one of the reasons I wanted to work at Company One this summer; the theater works to produce diverse plays that represent our population and increase accessibility to theater– and having theaters with goals like that (as, honestly, all theaters should have), are so important.

I’m so glad I was able to use my Brandeis connections and find out about the internship at Company One (I contacted an alumna who had interned there before e-mailing in my resume and cover letter), and I can’t wait to see how much more I learn about professional theater, non-profit theater, diversity, art, and the business of theater in the next eight weeks at this company.

Alison Thvedt, 2015

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