The Final Performance at Williamstown Theatre Festival

As my last performance here at Williamstown Theatre Festival came to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the amazing experiences that I had throughout this summer. I definitely feel that I met my defined learning goals academically, professionally, and personally as a Stage Management Intern at WTF. After this internship, I believe that I am a much better stage manager and I cannot wait to apply everything I learned to future endeavors.

Here I am at the opening night gala of And No More Shall We Part.
Here I am at the opening night gala of And No More Shall We Part.

Interning at WTF  helped clarify my career interests. Before coming to Williamstown, I thought that I wanted to work in higher level theaters in Washington D.C. and then eventually move to New York. After working alongside many New York theater professionals, I have discovered that I want to move to New York right out of college in order to eventually work on Broadway.

I would greatly recommend an internship at Williamstown Theatre Festival. However, it is important to go into the job knowing that you are going to work a lot of hours and be beaten down to be built back up better than you were when you started. Working at WTF is extremely intense, but you learn so much about yourself, your work, and how you fit into this industry. You are able to work alongside some of the top theater artists in the country and become part of an amazing community that will ensure that you will be successful in your career. Working at WTF is also so much fun (people often compare it to theater camp, since you are working and living with about 350 other people who work in the theater in some capacity). Here is a video that the WTF company created at the end of the summer.

These are 13 out of 15 Stage Management interns. We all became extremely close throughout the summer.
These are 13 out of 15 Stage Management interns. We all became extremely close throughout the summer.

All internships in the theater industry are extremely different depending on the level of the theater and the specific field in the theater that you are interning in. I have now experienced 2 Stage Management internships and they were incredibly different, but equally rewarding. It is important to understand the internship before you accept it-some theaters have developed internship programs, while some just hire interns. Although both have their own advantages, with a specific internship program, you often get to attend specialized workshops and work alongside other interns. Both summers I worked in a specific internship program, but last year I was one of three Stage Management interns and this year I was one of fifteen. The main difference in my two experiences is that Williamstown Theatre Festival is bigger in every way.

 

I am most proud of my ability to fit into and be successful in a rehearsal room alongside theater professionals. Working on And No More Shall We Part was an incredible experience where I felt respected in the room while working with Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek. This show was a beautiful piece of theater and it was amazing to develop such close relationships with actors who have had long successful careers and are much older than I am.

The Stage Management team, crew, and cast of And No More Shall We Part.
The Stage Management team, crew, and cast of And No More Shall We Part.

~Hannah Mitchell ’17, Theater WOW Recipient

Post 2: From One Show to Another

Orpheus in the Berkshires closed on Sunday and I started rehearsals for And No More Shall We Part on Tuesday. With this transition from one show to another, came many changes. I went from a show with an 80 person cast to a show with a 2 person cast; from a show with community members who were acting for the first time to a show in which both actors have been in numerous plays, movies, and TV shows; and from a fun musical to an extremely serious play. Needless to say, my experience is going to be different in so many ways. Despite all of the changes, my responsibilities as an Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) will be similar.

When working on Orpheus in the Berkshires, I thought a lot about the importance of theater. Because work in the theater is often high stress, it is easy to forget why we do what we do. Seeing how much this experience meant to the members of the Berkshire community, made all of the hard times and late nights worth it. Additionally, this article talks about an actor who is a member Soldier On, an organization that helps homeless veterans, and how life-changing this experience was for her. Skills that I developed while working on Orpheus include anticipating problems before they arise, adapting depending on who you are talking to, and being extremely aware of everyone around you. These are skills that are important in stage management, but become even more necessary when you are working with a cast of 80 people. 

This picture captures some of the incredibly talented people that contributed to Orpheus in the Berkshires.
This picture captures some of the incredibly talented people that contributed to Orpheus in the Berkshires.

At Brandeis, the work is less focused on product than in the professional world, but a little less focused on process than the community engagement project was. Experiencing both sides of the spectrum, has allowed me to appreciate more why we do theater. Working at Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) is more intense than my work in the Brandeis Department of Theater Arts. Yes, WTF is also an educational experience, but here you are expected to work alongside the professionals without a noticeable difference. The stakes are higher and as a result, mistakes have more of a significant impact.

One of the community actors painted a large version of our show poster.
One of the community actors painted a large version of our show poster.

 

I came to WTF to make sure that I wanted to pursue working at higher level theaters. This internship so far has confirmed this. Working alongside New York and even Broadway Stage Managers has proven to me that I want to strive to get to Broadway. I am learning a lot about what it means to be a successful ASM. At Brandeis, I have Stage Managed more than I have ASMed, so it is helpful to be able to work on the skills necessary for an ASM since that is what I will start out doing professionally. Next year at Brandeis as a Stage Manager, I will be able to better guide my assistants because of my work as an ASM and my observations of professional Stage Managers.

The Stage Management Team of Orpheus in the Berkshires.
The Stage Management Team of Orpheus in the Berkshires.

I am excited to see what the last month of my internship has in store for me. So far, I am loving every second at WTF and I look forward to continuing to work on And No More Shall We Part.

Hannah Mitchell ’17

Theater WOW Recipient

My First Week at Williamstown Theatre Festival

Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) is dedicated to producing top tier productions with some of the most acclaimed theater artists in the country. WTF is also known as one of the top training and professional development programs for new generations of aspiring theater artists and administrators. One of the most incredible parts of the Williamstown mission is its commitment to creating some of the highest quality theater in the country, while making sure to help nurture the next generation of top theater artists.

This summer, I am one of 15 Stage Management Interns. As Stage Management Interns, we serve as Assistant Stage Managers on the  main season shows and as Stage Managers and Assistant Stage Managers on the late night cabarets and other events. I am currently working as an Assistant Stage Manager on Orpheus in the Berkshires, which is a new work. This show is part of a new initiative to literally bring theater to the greater community of Williamstown, MA, and will be performed in an old mill.

The production team in Greylock WORKS (our performance venue)
The production team in Greylock WORKS (our performance venue)

This show has a cast of 80, ranging in age from 7-87, and is made up of both people who live in the area and actors in attendance at the festival. This is the first year that Williamstown Theatre Festival is producing a show like this, so my work on this show is incredibly influential in the continuation of this type of production in the future. With the success of this specific production, there will hopefully be an annual occurrence. Because of the scale of this show, my work has been extensive since the sheer number of cast members makes every task more complicated, but also more rewarding. Many of these community members have never been in a show before. The pure joy on their faces when they leave rehearsal is incredibly inspiring for me to watch and shows how theater can transform peoples’ lives.

Some of my amazing cast members on the first day of rehearsal.
Some of my amazing cast members on the first day of rehearsal.

In rehearsal, I am responsible for tracking all script changes because with new plays, the playwright is often in the rehearsal room and therefore the text can shift. As an Assistant Stage Manager, I help with the organization of all show materials and the coordination of all players involved within the production.

Updating the scene breakdown, which is used to show who is onstage when.
Updating the scene breakdown, which is used to show who is onstage when.

My career goal for this summer is to confirm that I want to pursue a stage management career in high level theaters and Broadway. Stage management is different depending on the level of theater due to different rules and expectations. In order to decide where I want to apply to work next year after I graduate, I need to make sure that this is the path that I want to pursue. Also, at Brandeis, I have served as a Stage Manager more than an Assistant Stage Manager, however when I first enter the field after graduation, I will be hired as an Assistant. It is important that I have the chance to develop these skills so that I am better prepared to enter the theater industry as a professional. Additionally, this internship will allow me to continue to make connections with Broadway actors, directors, and designers. In the theater world, like many other professions, networking is incredibly important.

My personal goal through this summer internship is to continue to improve my confidence in my stage management skills. I have found that working closely with and observing professional stage managers is incredibly beneficial because it allows me to compare my ideas and instincts to someone who is successful in the field.