Post 3 — Local News Fills the Void

Tragedy strikes Evansville whilst my internship is coming to a close: a house explosion, killing 3 people and destroying numerous houses, shakes the community. Although a sad way to leave Evansville, this rather abrupt close has prompted a lot of reflection on my part. Namely, in times like these, the importance of local journalism is abundantly clear. Although I have not been involved with this reporting, the experience of hearing and seeing how a newsroom mobilizes in times of crisis has been incredibly valuable. 

Photo courtesy Daniel Sarch / Courier & Press A house, located on 1010 N. Weinbach Ave. in Evansville, IN, exploded Wednesday evening. The explosion caused three deaths and damaged 39 houses.

This internship gave me so much perspective, both in being able to observe different communities’ and peoples’ ways of life, as well as providing me with insight on what careers/opportunities I wish to pursue in the future. I fell in love with this small but mighty newspaper, filled with bright and quiet (yet at the same time also tenacious) journalists.

This summer, I have identified what kind of workplace I value. I now know that I require a loud and busy environment in order to effectively work. I have also learned that I do not want a desk job. I want to work with people and do so in person (pending public health safety, of course). Due to office and family COVID-19 cases, I spent a lot of the summer working from home, something I would like to minimize going forward if possible. 

I am most proud of the connections I made in the community and my increased confidence in interviewing and writing. Little things like introducing myself on the phone to sources brought such a rush – “This is Jen Crystal with the Courier & Press. It was so exciting to claim belonging to an organization in that kind of way, and it was so rewarding to afterward have learned new things from interesting community members. My favorite thing about journalism has been and continues to be the level of trust sources put into their writers to honestly and respectfully portray themselves and their experiences. I think I have grown a lot as a writer and as an interviewer this summer, and I am immensely proud of that growth.  

Here is my advice to people hoping to enter or intern in this field: 

  • Be persistent – In finding sources, interviewing, and even in finding your internship, do not hesitate to go through unusual channels if your initial outreach doesn’t pan through.


  • If there isn’t an internship program in place, don’t let that hold you back – Although the Courier & Press does have an official internship program, I reached out to the newspaper’s editors and acquired my internship that way. Especially with programs like WoW, you can work with your employers to create a position if a formal/paid position does not exist or is not available.




Post 2 — Settling In & Passion Projects

I find myself on a stronger footing as my time at the Courier & Press has elapsed. It has both flown by like sand through an hourglass and seeped slowly like molasses. From how I pitch stories to the greater sense of confidence I now feel when entering interviews, I can feel how my demeanor has calmed as I have settled into my role. 

One of the most exciting developments has been the kinds of stories I have been working on, all of which I am extremely passionate about. I have been doing a lot of research on reproductive freedom and survivorship. Specifically, I have researched reproductive coercion and both the implications of survivors not having reproductive agency and the danger pregnancy can put people in who are experiencing intimate partner violence. I have also researched abortion resources (and the lack thereof) in the Evansville community, as well as trends in reproductive healthcare and changes in access to care in the years following Roe’s introduction.

I am finishing up a story about public art and spatial justice. This article is in response to a census conducted in Marion County (Indianapolis) that examined both the representation of artists and stories in public art, as well as the distribution of public art as it relates to regional demographics.

An installation called the Gateway (by Scott Ross) located in Haynie’s Corner art district. It’s an example of “public art” on private land. Photo taken by Jennifer Crystal.

Another fun project I’m working on is a feature on a women-run tattoo parlor and sexism within the tattoo industry, as well as activism in the workplace. You can find my in-depth look at fireworks, which I discussed in my last blog post, here.  

The world of work stands in contrast to university life. Oddly, I have found college classrooms to be more collaborative than the workplace. People go into work intent on completing their jobs, jobs that in my line of work are often independent of other journalists. However, both the workplace and university are excellent breeding grounds for new thoughts and ideas and both cater well to learning.

While at my internship, I have developed new skills and built upon old skills. I have gotten better at finding information quickly and have improved on condensing my writing in order to fit tight word limits. I have also learned about what research is important for the reader and what research is just important to me (ie: what is fluff that I should leave out). 

As I reach the midpoint of my internship, I have begun to reflect on what I hope to take away from my time at the Courier & Press. I certainly want to bring back what I have learned to the Justice newspaper where I serve as Editor-In-Chief.

Since finishing my term as news editor, I have really wanted to broaden our resources for investigative reporting. This has been a priority that I for one reason or another never really got around to, but after working at a newspaper for over a month, I am reminded of the importance of investigative reporting. I truly believe that our hard-hitting reporting, local context, and dedicated reporters are what draw our readers and subscribers to the Courier & Press. The turnover in this industry is intense, and every day, more and more local news organizations fade into oblivion. However, I believe that our investment in strong, local news is the reason for our continual relevancy. 

Post 1 — A heat wave, fireworks, and the journalistic dilemma

A gentle hum escapes the AC as it labors away on this particularly humid, June day. The flowers and plants droop in the sweltering heat, but my building sits proud and tall, nearly towering (fine, slightly hovering) over the neighboring houses and businesses. Such was my introduction to the Evansville Courier & Press. Inside you will find a collection of hardworking men and women, dedicated to uncovering the truth within their community. Keys click and clack – everyone is working away. 

Courier & Press logo – Image Courtesy of the Evansville Courier & Press

Since beginning my internship 2 weeks ago, I have written 3 stories and learned so much. The first was a compilation of resources on how to best escape the heat wave we were experiencing. I next wrote a story about where to see fireworks in the Evansville area. I am now polishing off a longer story about the more sinister side of fireworks (impacts on veterans, animals, and the environment) and possible solutions. I really love the approach my internship has taken in having me dive right into my work. This has really forced me to familiarize myself with the community and has also forced me to step outside of my comfort zone. My coworkers have been incredibly helpful and have answered any and all of my questions as they arise, but I have mostly been on assignments on my own which has been a really valuable experience. For my deep dive on fireworks, I have probably called at least 30 local businesses and spoken with various important institutions in the community (such as the fire department). The joy I get when introducing myself on the phone “this is Jen Crystal with the Courier Press” or from pulling out my access card to go to my desk and computer is truly unmatched. 

This internship has reinforced for me the importance of local journalism and has magnified the work these people do every day. It has also surfaced questions that I will continue to ponder as my work continues. We all watched as the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was overturned this past week. As a woman, as a student, and as a journalist I was horrified. We are now faced with the momentous task of covering the public outcry (and rejoicing), stomaching our own emotions related to this historical moment. Enter the journalistic dilemma – how do we report on these highly important issues without allowing our own bias to seep into our writing and hurt our credibility? This is certainly something I am still navigating, for in historic moments such as these it is difficult to remain quiet, but I trust that my experienced colleagues will guide me through this and lead by example. 

As I stated in my WOW application, I hope to continue to learn about the inner workings of a newsroom as I continue on in my internship. I think this first-hand experience and institutional knowledge will immensely benefit me in my journalism classes going forward. I also want to improve my writing skills in order to further my journalistic prospects post-college. I am interested in pursuing either journalism or social work professionally. Even if I go the social work route, I think that the journalism skills I will continue to develop during this internship—concise writing, communication skills, research and fact-checking techniques, and more—will be incredibly valuable in any field, especially social work. 

Give ’em the old ‘Razzle-Dazzle’

     In order to make it in the world of showbiz, one must “Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle”, as Billy Flynn says in the musical Chicago. No matter if you’re under the lights or behind the curtains, it is important to always provide your best work- even when you have little to work with. As the Production Management Intern at Speakeasy Stage Company, this summer I have indeed learned to both “razzle” and “dazzle”.

Cords galore!

Though I have had experience in onstage and backstage work prior to this summer, these past few months have opened my eyes to the world of theater administration -a fundamental sequin of razzling and dazzling audiences that many forget to acknowledge. I have learned how to complete weekly finance reports, write journal entries for box office revenue, and comprehend 990s. My advisor blew my mind when he introduced me to ‘Quickbooks’, a computer program that houses all the financial information of a company who chooses to use it. (You would not believe the millions of numbers, codes, and breakdowns of every dollar spent.) I even set up sound equipment and new desktops complete with essential software programs for the office, something I never expected to do while working in theater. 

     Theater administrators are often tasked with as many jobs as what multiple employees would be hired to do at a non-art company. While theater employees love and value the work they do, they are also well aware that they must make every dollar count because there is not an ounce of sparkle to spare. This being said, it is important to know your worth as an employee- something I learned at Speakeasy’s weekly ‘How to Get Hired’ seminars for interns. As an intern, one should always be on the lookout for new tasks to learn because doing such demonstrates your hard work ethic. However, as an employee, one should be aware of his/her/their compensation in relation to the jobs they are hired to do. If a company is asking for more than what they are paying, the job may not be a good fit. This is something I was aware of in the workplace, but never related to the theater scene. I always assumed to do as much work as possible because theater jobs are hard to come by. 

A Leko light

Lucky for production interns, not every day is spent in the office. I got to participate in striking a set from a past production. I learned how to take down stage lights, something that was on my list to learn for the summer. A ‘color blast’ is a rectangular light that literally blasts the stage with color. In contrast, a ‘leko’, also known as a ‘Source 4’, provides directed light. Learning the lingo is certainly beneficial when demonstrating your worth as an intern. I also had to breakdown the platforms of which the audience’s seats are placed because we had to set the theater in a new configuration for the next production. Working alongside me for the day was a man who also works as a sound designer. Throughout the day he described various tasks he does in sound and offered to show me equipment on the next show he would work on. The more outgoing and helpful you are, the more people you will meet who will be all the more willing to help you!

     I was also invited to sit in on the first creative meeting for our upcoming production, Choir Boy. (It was on Broadway this past season!) The director explained the role of the audience, the set designer brainstormed transitions between scenes and production management considered what type of choreographer to hire- all of which were essential to putting on that razzle dazzle. I was mesmerized listening to everyone on the creative team discussing the vision of the show. A couple days later, the marketing department asked for extra hands in setting up equipment for an interview with the director. I have knowledge on how to do that since my dad is a photographer, so I pitched in. Because I helped in a department other than my own, I was asked if I’d like to learn about filming/photo editing software! (Another activity to check off on my bucket list!)

                                                           Get tickets here!

     The harder you work to help a company shine, the more opportunities they will give you to do so. After all, if you can’t razzle and dazzle yourself, how can you expect others to do the same?


Amy Ollove ’21


A Summer in Showbiz


        While many spend their summers outside in the sun, I have been crafting in dark alleys, balancing on scaffoldings, and sprinting through the streets of Boston. Why? ‘Cause that’s showbiz.

Eddie Shields, on right, is a Brandeis alum!

       As the Production Management intern for the Speakeasy Stage Company, there is never a moment of downtime. I have become an Olympic multitasker. Sometimes I’m in the office reading scripts, mailing checks or organizing Equity files. Other times, days are spent bouncing between the two theatres next door, each home to multiple stages that we rent, juggling props, moving set pieces, or delivering equipment. When I’m working on one assignment, my mind is already preparing for the sixth projects down the line. While this work is exhausting, I have never been more alive.

Inside the office, posters of past productions color the walls.

     My first week was spent primarily in the office space. The walls are covered with posters from past productions, adding color to our fifth floor room. (I walk those flights at least four times a day…) The staff, which consists of a core team of eight, each specializing in a different area, sat beside their own intern for a meeting among departments. We discussed agendas, upcoming events, possible issues, etc. Marketing explained how we would ‘brand ourselves’ in the lobby. Going off of that point, Development mentioned that we would need guides to lead audiences into the theatre. Stumped on who would take the organization of this on, I wearily raised my hand to suggest interns as the solution. People were impressed with this comment, especially it being my first day and that I was assisting a department other than my own. This moment, along with many others, exemplifies that ‘theatre is a team sport’ whether onstage or in an office.

Under that rug is black ‘spike’ tape to mark where it should go onstage. I colored the tape with white pencil to make it look like its from a sketchbook, fitting the ‘cartoon’ theme of the show.

     This first week, I made a cartoonist’s sketchbook. I, by no means, am a visual artist. Yet, I did not actually have to draw. The sketchbook was for the current playing production, Fun Home. The show is based on an established cartoonist’s graphic memoir. In the musical, the lead character is said cartoonist. She speaks and sings the story as she is illustrating it. However, no actress could ever pull off drawing the same cartoons as in the actual graphic memoir. Therefore, I printed images from the original memoir in extremely low ink. Then, I glued the images into a sketchbook in the order of when they are drawn in the show. I did a set of cartoons for every performance, allowing the actress to trace the images on stage every night. I made the most essential prop of the production.

Set of ‘Fun Home’

     The following two weeks were spent in the theatres for both summer productions, The View Upstairs and Fun Home. I assisted in building sets, dressing spaces with curtains, furniture and props, and cleaning the house (the audience seats). I learned so much about set construction that I feel I could be a contractor’s right hand woman. Building sets is the area I have the least experience in but in which I learned the most. I was directly involved in bringing the theatre to life for each unique story.

Set of ‘The View Upstairs’

     My goals for the summer are to develop a deeper understanding of the professional theatre world, foster relationships with theatre professionals and to grow and mature as a person. I have certainly made a dent in all three areas and am excited to continue.




Amy Ollove ’21


Another milestone for the books. My internship at Central Square Theatre is officially coming to a close but I am so happy for the opportunities and insights it has given me. Over the course of working at CST, I have not only learned a lot about myself as an intern, but as a person, student and professional.

I am a diligent, go-getter who keeps plugging along even when the going gets rough. There were some tough spots during my internship where I had to stop and re-strategize. Each experience has helped shape who am today and what I hope to pursue in the future. 

This summer I helped launch our last show of the 2016-17 season, The Midvale High School Fiftieth Reunion and took to the streets by my own volition to hand out postcards. I started an initiative to get CST postcards to all hotel concierge services in the area and into guestrooms. I also attended the Central Square Flea Market where CST had a table and I passed out pamphlets all day and discussed one-on-one what the theatre is all about. Lastly I contacted local television stations to hopefully bring CST beyond the stage and to the greater community via television.

So what’s next for me? We shall see! I am grateful for the experiences I had this summer and for the connections I made through the theatre. It was a pleasure to work with the other interns in gearing up for our brand new season. It is rewarding to know that my work at the theatre will not go unrecognized and that I had a hand in the upcoming productions.

I want to say thank you to CST and WOW for making this experience possible.

Tricia Cordischi

My Debut

With my chocolate muffin and latte in hand, I buzzed into the intercom at the Central Square Theatre entrance. First day jitters were in full force but immediately quelled once I stepped into the office. My fellow interns welcomed me with smiling faces and my supervisor, Tabitha, rushed over to greet me.

Our first week was designated to preparation and continued research on the upcoming plays for the season. We spent our initial day reviewing scripts and noting themes, honing in on fundamental issues each piece presented. My second day, I spent a significant amount of time discussing with our staff responsible for education and community connectivity to figure out how we can go beyond the text and into our surrounding environment.

As a Theatre Arts major, I have always been interested in the
production aspect and inner workings behind a theatre company. As an actress, I feel it is important to understand the managerial side and comprehend the process of keeping your theatre running. In the future, I too hope to start my own theatre company and by delving into the world of the theatre this summer, I hope to gain the knowledge and develop a support network to make my business endeavors a reality. Though I will be focusing on marketing, I will have the opportunity to interact with other departments to get a full view of what I would need to run a successful theatre company in the future.
As Central Square Theatre’s summer marketing intern I will be assisting in promotion and marketing analysis. I have already begun working closely with Nicholas and Tabitha, the heads of the marketing department, to begin to get a full understanding of the overall brand and goals for the upcoming season. I will also be advertising in the surrounding community and developing relationships with the ‘potential audience and other stakeholders’ in the Boston area.
I look forward to growing not only academically through getting first-hand experience in the field I’m studying but also personally in the various responsibilities I will be expected to complete. I am excited to be taking on this new endeavor and cannot wait to get started.

Tricia Cordischi

After the End: My Thoughts Post-O’Neill

I ended my internship at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center about two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on what I’ve learned about myself as a student, artist, and collaborator. I have a clearer idea of what I am capable of doing and what I actually want to do in the theater industry. For example, this internship reaffirmed my interest in directing and confirmed that I am not interested in acting. But it also made me think more seriously about theater administration, dramaturgy, producing, and theater education as possible career paths. My experience at the O’Neill taught me that, if I continue to work hard and educate myself, I’m capable of more than I originally thought.

The O'Neill logo projected on the Gala tent earlier this summer.
The O’Neill logo projected on the Gala tent earlier this summer.

For the immediate future, I know I will use the skills I’ve learned here to improve my work at Brandeis. The deeper understanding I’ve gained about the structure of musicals and plays will inform how I direct my thesis production this fall. I will also use my knowledge of professional theater productions to enhance my classwork. The administration skills I gained will affect my work as an Undergraduate Departmental Representative and Senior Interviewer in the Office of Admissions. Once I graduate, I am considering returning to the O’Neill as a worker or student. I also will be in contact with the friends and professional connects I made this summer. They are not only great resources for future work, but also help me keep up with what theater is going on across the country.

I would recommend my internship to anyone who is seriously considering a career in the theater industry, specifically those who are interested in the development of new work. The O’Neill looks for people who are hard working, self-starters, and kindhearted. The O’Neill is located in a small town away from other theaters. Many of the workers live on campus. The staff and interns get to know each other and are all an integral part of what makes the theater run. They must be willing to put in the work to make things go smoothly while simultaneously sustaining a positive working and living environment.

Me visiting the Mystic Seaport, 20 minutes away from the O'Neill.
Me visiting Mystic Seaport, located about 20 minutes away from the O’Neill.

Experiencing what the day-to-day workplace was like in such a competitive and fast-paced industry was reassuring. It can certainly be stressful and exhausting, but with the right support, it is an absolutely inspiring place to be. The works of theater kept me excited about going to work—even at 8 AM, even after a 14-hour workday. I realized that my experiences at Brandeis prepared me to take on long days with many tasks. I am most proud of my ability to focus and to know the appropriate times to speak up or step back. The most valuable thing I learned this summer, however, is that I am excited to get into the working world, not scared. It has reassured me that I can find a place in the theater community and that I am ready to get to work.

– Rachel Liff ’16

My First Weeks at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

Greetings from Waterford, Connecticut! I just finished my second week interning for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center as an Artistic Director’s Assistant. The O’Neill welcomes more than five different artistic directors to the grounds each summer to help develop new works of theater. Although many regional theaters across the country are now investing in emerging artists and plays, the O’Neill was the first theater to revolutionize the development process 51 years ago. Since then, the O’Neill has cultivated five different summer conferences as well as academic programs. Many of the pieces developed at the O’Neill have gone on to be extremely successful, such as Avenue Q, Violet, [Title of Show], The Wild Party, Fences, Piano Lesson, Uncommon Women and Others, In the Heights, and more. This summer, I have the privilege of working on the National Puppetry Conference, National Music Theater Conference, and Cabaret and Performance Conference.


The grounds of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center featuring a beautiful view of the ocean.
The grounds of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center featuring a beautiful view of Long Island Sound.


I just wrapped up working on the National Puppetry Conference. During that time, I did administrative tasks, archival work, and was able to attend master classes taught by some of the most successful puppet professionals from around the world. For example, I participated in a three-day character creation class with Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, the voice of Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street. During the day, I worked closely with the artistic director of the conference as well as the associate artistic director and other staff members. I came in knowing nothing about puppetry and learned more than I thought possible. These first two weeks have already transformed how I think about both the artistic and producing aspects of theater.

The O’Neill Logo

My primary career interest is directing, and the O’Neill provides the perfect environment for me to work with professional directors and artistic directors. The next conference I am working on is the National Music Theater Conference, which will give me the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals. One of my tasks is to observe meetings with professional artists and keep track of changes made to the productions. This will allow me to gain a deeper knowledge of the practical and experiential aspects of the artistic process. One of my jobs will be to record and transcribe meetings between the writers of the new musicals and established artists brought in to critique their work. This will give me insight as to how to balance business and art and how to edit work with a specific audience in mind.


At the O’Neill, I am learning how to navigate different challenges that arise when working in a fast paced and demanding career while receiving the mentorship of professional artists. Although I’ve only been at the O’Neill for two weeks, I feel as if I’ve lived here for much longer. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. It is so exciting to be in an environment where everyone is 100% dedicated to making good theater. I am beyond excited to kick off the Music Theater Conference this week with a reading on Slaughterhouse-Five the musical. If you’re in the area and interested in seeing any of the productions, check out the O’Neill website for more information.

Looking Ahead

It’s great to be back at Brandeis and in school-mode (although I had forgotten how busy and exhausting the first few weeks of school are), but I’m sad to be done with my summer internship with Company One Theatre— even if the last few weeks consisted of a lot more office work than it had been earlier in the summer (although I’m actually really proud to have finished a massive headshot reorganization project in which I re-categorized about 20 giant binders of head shots and resumes we keep to have records of every actor that has auditioned for us. I wish I had taken a picture I was so proud of it). 

My second to last week I got to sit in on a staff meeting, which was a great experience. Every member of Company One gets together once a week to connect, discuss different projects, etc.. We talked about what was going on in each department, discussed a potential play for the upcoming season and the pros and cons of it, talked about other theaters and their seasons, the benefits of joining certain organizations, etc.. It was very cool getting to see how a small non-profit theater organizes and runs things, and it was especially awesome to see how invested each member of Company One is in engaging the community and adhering to the core values of the company (making theater more accessible and producing theater that is diverse). It was also one member’s last week, so we celebrated her time with the company with cake, etc.. 

Overall, I had a great time this summer at Company One and learned a lot. I learned a lot about contemporary playwrights that I didn’t know about before, I learned what dramaturgy is (I think), I learned the ins and outs of a professional fringe theater in Boston, I even learned about Boston and its’ history.

Flashback to the LMDA conference
Flashback to the LMDA conference

I gained a sense of the incredible amount of work that goes into creating and producing thought-provoking theater— and with that I also came away more frustrated than I usually am at the lack of funding that goes into arts. These people who create this wonderful form of art are under-appreciated and underfunded in our society. It’s really something to see people working so hard to create art, to change the world, and to also see how hard it is to get funded, to get paid, in the theater world. And meanwhile public school are still cutting funds for music, theater, the fine arts, and all these art forms that are near and dear to so many peoples’ hearts. 

But I also came away inspired to know that there are people out there working this hard to produce diverse, inclusive, and provocative theater that talks about topics we don’t generally talk about in our day-to-day lives. I cannot wait to continue to explore all the different types of theater the world has to offer, and all the different ways theater can be created. Many thanks to Company One and the Brandeis WOW fellowship grant for giving me this awesome opportunity (and go check out their upcoming season!). 

Astro Boy and the God of Comics
Astro Boy and the God of Comics

Alison Thvedt ’15

Reflecting on Theatre and Social Change

From organizing the company bookstore to painting giant sheets of wood with chalkboard paint for an interactional lobby display (photo below) to learning exactly how much work it takes to apply for a liquor license to researching Filipino organizations we need to reach out to in order to advertise for auditions for our upcoming show– my jobs at Company One have varied a lot in the past month, making the time fly by. The idea that I’m over halfway done with my internship (and my summer) is unbelievable. 

One of the many interactional lobby activities for Astro Boy (I made those chalkboards!)
One of the many interactional lobby activities for Astro Boy (I helped make those chalkboards!)

Since my last blog post, I’ve debriefed with my supervisor about the LMDA dramaturgy conference (and learned even more in our almost 2-hour long conversation; about theatre history and the Regional Theatre Movement which helped create regional theaters across America, how Boston is not only one of the most gentrified cities in the nation but one of the most racially divided, how dramaturgs at Company One and at various theaters work and what they do specifically, etc.), I’ve helped out with lobby set-up for Astro Boy, and I’ve seen the show twice. It opened to a pretty good review in the Boston Globe and NPR covered it, too (listen to the radio segment here, or read the review here). 

I find I’m learning even in the most “mundane” tasks I’m asked to do at the theater. For instance, while I may sit in the lobby for many of the auditions I help with and do simple things such as sign actors in and gives them their sides (scripts to read for the audition), I get to see how important it is for actors to be polite to the person doing that, I get to debrief with the casting director after every audition and see what he thinks about actors and what he looks for, and I get to know the plays for which we are holding auditions. By organizing and ordering books for the company bookstore, I’ve learned about award-winning playwrights and plays I had never heard of before and am getting a glimpse into the incredibly vast ocean of theatrical literature we only barely dip our toes into with an undergraduate theatre education. Every single day at Company One, I learn something new. 

The lobby for Astro Boy, which I helped set up during tech week
The lobby for Astro Boy, which I helped set up during tech week

Watching Astro Boy reminded me how much I love theatre and reaffirmed my desire to become a director. Seeing a show at Company One is an incredible opportunity because they aren’t a super-polished, generally “safe” (ie non-risk-taking) regional theatre. They worked on this show in their female playwrights XX Play Lab and have been developing it since. As a company that strives to make theatre accessible to a younger, more diverse population, they have lower ticket-prices and, unfortunately, a lower-budget than most companies. But this theatre is so important as I, along with many others, have learned so much about Astro Boy— the comic of manga artist Tezuka, a huge artist in Japan. Just by seeing an 80-minute play. I knew nothing about the artist or the comic before working for Company One and now I’m fascinated by Tezuka’s life and his comic, Astro Boy. I’ve also seen an incredible, new take on mixed media in the theater involving projection, animation, drawing, puppetry, and live music, giving me ideas for future work I might produce in theatre. 

Theaters need to be doing more work like this, and hopefully smaller fringe theaters like this are having an influence on the larger regional theaters out there so educational, culturally diverse theatre will be more widely produced on a larger scale. I hope to take what I’ve learned about non-profit work, professional theatre, and representation in theatre and apply it to all future work I pursue in the theatre world and otherwise. And I mean it when I say I can’t wait to learn what I’ll learn in my last month of my internship at Company One. 

Thanks for reading.

Alison Thvedt ’15

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:

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.

photo 2
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

Goodbye, Fringe! Until Next Year!

It is 3 a.m. on Monday, August 26th. I am still in my party clothes, wide awake from the whirlwind that was the festival. Tonight we said goodbye to the festival with a blow-out closing night party. Champagne was poured, awards were given, teary goodbyes were said and a great night was had by all. As I sat at the FringeTERN table observing the participants congratulate themselves, I couldn’t help but be proud of the work we did to make this festival possible. It is not so often that interns are given as much responsibility as we were but, from making sure the schedule was airtight to ensuring every participant got their last paycheck, I truly do believe our contributions were vital to the success of the festival. It truly feels like without us, the show (quite literally) could not have gone on.

I am saddened that this internship is over. I have learned so much and have met so many interesting and intelligent people with whom I hope to remain in contact. I leave this festival with a better understanding of myself: with the understanding that a career in the theatre is what I want and the confidence that it is possible to pursue one’s passions while still being able to support oneself financially. I also walk away with a much better understanding of the inner-workings of a festival. Every single aspect and every single person involved is a vital and invaluable part of the festival. If one component fails, the entire festival will fail. Theatre is the most collaborative art form, and this festival is theatre at its finest; it is thousands of people coming together to collaborate and realize a common vision. These past few weeks, I’ve seen that vision become a reality and I am floored by the impact and effect it has had.

In my theatre classes, I learn about the problems of commercialized theatre. As many know, Broadway tickets are expensive. Because they are expensive, the majority of people who can afford to see these shows are upper-middle class, middle-aged men and women. And because a particular group of people are the primary ticket holders, the Broadway community continues to produce works that appeal to that audience. Though there is a lot of talent and heart put into commercialized theatre, this focus sometimes leads to a stifling of creativity and diversity in the arts and can cause what Peter Brook (a noted theatre theorist) refers to as ‘deadly theatre.’

Deadly theatre is a theatre of commerce, where the number one driving force of a production is to make money, rather than to create, innovate, educate, or enlighten – as theatre is intended to do. The New York International Fringe Festival is the largest multi-arts festival in North America that allows new artists with new and passionate voices to showcase their work in a non-commercial way. More than walking away with an understanding of myself or my future career, I am walking away with a greater understanding of the importance of private and public support for the arts. I want to continue to learn more about and contribute to the non-profit theatre world, because when money isn’t the driving factor – when passion, creativity and heart are – that is when the greatest art, as well as the greatest change, can be realized. I am grateful to have spent a summer immersed in the non-profit art world observing, first-hand, the importance of enlightening, educational and thought-provoking works of theatre. To see just how important FringeNYC is, watch Mayor Bloomberg give FringeNYC the Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture.

And if I could give one piece of advice to a student interested in pursuing an internship or career in theatre – whether it be the non- or for-profit theatre world – it would be to go for it. In this world, there are a lot of people who will scoff at you, or judge you, or warn you that you won’t be able to support yourself – but I implore you to ignore them. It is true, there is not a lot of money to be had in the theatre world – whether it is commercialized or subsidized – but there is a lot of heart, and passion, and change. My mother has always said that if you follow your heart, everything else will fall into place and I now believe she is right.

As this is my last post, I’d like to thank the WOW community for making this internship possible. I have learned so much not only about myself and my field, but about all the amazing work my fellow WOW recipients have been up to this summer. It was an incredible summer, and here’s to another great year with the Brandeis community!

Let the Festivities Begin!

Things are really picking up here at FringeNYC; the festival has begun! About a month ago, we packed up FringeNYC’s year round midtown office and made the move down to FringeCENTRAL on the Lower East Side. We unpacked, cleaned, organized, cleaned and reshaped an old, dirty, unused Japanese karaoke bar (did I mention cleaned?) into the new FringeCENTRAL. Since we opened to the public, participants, volunteers and prospective audience members have been flocking to our 2nd Avenue location to see what’s on and where they can help.

A short while ago, each FringeTERN was delegated a project or task for once we got down to FringeCENTRAL. Some are working with the FringeJR shows (shows that are geared toward younger audiences), some are organizing FringeTEASERS (little teasers of fringe shows hosted at FringeCENTRAL to provide prospective audience members with a taste of some of the shows) and I, as well as one other FringeTERN, have been assigned to coordinate the volunteers. On any given year, FringeNYC gets about 2,000 volunteers that come in once the festival starts. One of the main tasks of volunteers is distributing will-call tickets, but volunteers can be doing anything from directing audience traffic to helping out at FringeCENTRAL. FringeNYC’s volunteer policy is “Work a Shift, See a Show at FringeNYC” (for free.) Since we’ve opened to the public, I have mostly been working as a concierge/volunteer coordinator to help audience members find shows they would like to see or to train prospective volunteers, input their information in our system and schedule their shifts.

When I started my internship with FringeNYC, I had no idea what the summer had in store. All I knew was that there is nothing in this world about which I am more passionate than theatre and I wanted to have an immersive experience in the theatre world. Theatre is one of the most collaborative art forms. You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well it takes the city of New York to mount a Broadway show. In the theatre, artists, creators, visionaries and benefactors come together to realize a production. And because there are so many great minds working together to realize a common vision, I have always found it difficult to find my place within the world of theatre. Did I want to be an actress? A director? A producer? A playwright? A stage manager? A designer? All of the above? None of the above? When I applied for an internship with FringeNYC, it was my hope and my goal that working with so many different theatre artists would help me find a singular pathway within the theatre to follow; that it would help me find a career path.

However, having spent so much time working for the festival and encountering inspiring people who have made a career out of a life in the theatre, I now understand that there is no “right” track or trajectory. The people I’ve met here at the fringe come from all different walks of life. In the fringe this year we have investment bankers, basketball players, and everything in between. All have made their way to the fringe because they have a story to share. They are storytellers and – because of that – they are theatremakers. I am so in awe of and inspired by the people I’ve met here. They truly are pieces of a whole and make this collaborative and expansive art form what it is.

You ask me to address the concrete skills I have built as a result of this internship and to address how they will be transferable to my future career. However, I have found that even though I may have gotten better at creating an Excel spreadsheet or using Volgistics (the volunteer coordinating website), what I have gained from this internship is a lot less tangible. I have gained a better sense of self – a better sense of my strengths and weaknesses, of my likes and dislikes – as well as a better appreciation for this ever-growing, ever-evolving art that is theatre. I haven’t necessarily progressed in my goals; I haven’t found a singular career path or focus in the theatre. I haven’t decided what I want to be when I ‘grow up’, but furthermore, I have come to the realization that I don’t have to. It is those who walk blindly into the woods that emerge with the greatest stories to tell.

– Sophie Greenspan ’15





The Beginnings of My Summer with FringeNYC


The New York International Fringe Festival, or FringeNYC, is a festival that brings performances from fringe theatres (non-mainstream, off-off Broadway) throughout the world to New York City for a sixteen-day festival. In terms of it size, it works in what FringeNYC refers to as “the great inverted period” with: 75,000 audience members, 5,000 artists, 1,500 volunteers, 1,200 performances, 190 shows, 100 volunteer staff, 20 venues, 16 days and 2 full-time employees. It began in 1997 when a theatre company on the Lower East Side had received an invitation to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but realized that New York City – one of the greatest theatre hubs in the world – deserved a festival of its own.

Our favorite Bostonian, Mindy Kaling, got her start at the festival with a show called Matt & Ben!
Our favorite Bostonian, Mindy Kaling, got her start at the festival with a show called Matt & Ben!

Living in New York City during high school, I had always heard of the wonders of FringeNYC. Therefore, there was not much locating or researching to be done in finding my internship. I’ve always had a passion for fringe theatre; I find it has a rawness and a propensity towards pushing boundaries that is much more interesting than for-profit, Broadway theatre. Therefore, when looking for an internship this summer, I needn’t looked much further than the FringeNYC website to find that they were looking for administrative interns. Shortly after submitting a cover letter and resumé, the festival administrator – now my boss – contacted me for an interview and the rest is history.

As an administrative intern – or FringeTERN as FringeNYC likes to call us – my duties include most of the daily tasks needed to produce a festival. So far, I have helped with inputting data – such as show times and the technical and scheduling needs of participants – and have facilitated a marketing mixer with FringeNYC participants in which we discussed how best to market their shows. Right now, FringeNYC is in the midst of scheduling their festival. Much is involved in scheduling the festival; we as FringeTERNS must consider the conflicts of both the participants and the venues, as well as take care to make sure that the number of shows, show times and dates are fairly distributed between the approximately 190 participants.

In 2011, Brandeis’ Tympanium Euphorium produced the musical, Urinetown. Urinetown made its debut at FringeNYC is 1999!

FringeNYC has only two full-time staff: the Festival Administrator and the Producing Artistic Director. Volunteers do everything else. When I heard this, I was amazed. How was it that a festival of this magnitude could run so smoothly with only two full-time staff? However, since I have started working with FringeNYC, I have come to learn that it is because the two administrators – in addition to doing all they do – are so patient and helpful in training and educating the volunteers and FringeTERNS like myself on the inner-workings of the festival. There are fifteen of us FringeTERNS and on any given day – in addition to the two full time staff members – five or six other FringeTERNS could be in the office.  Since we’re all roughly the same age and share the same interests, having the other FringeTERNS in the office with me allows for a very comfortable working space in which we can all collaborate and help each other. Everyone is so supportive and hard working; I fully attribute the good times I’ve had at FringeNYC thus far to the people with whom I’ve been working.

Being an intern for FringeNYC is a dream come true. Every day I am surrounded by and learning from those who share my passion. It has been fascinating learning the hard work and planning that goes into making the fringe festival that so many will enjoy come August. Additionally, with the marketing mixer, I was fortunate enough to meet many participants and artists and hear what their shows are about and where their interests lie. This summer promises to be one filled with new experiences and new, innovative and exciting theatre. I am excited to continue my work with FringeNYC and I especially can’t wait for the festival itself to begin because – instead of just knowing blurbs, show times and show names – I can finally see all these performances FringeNYC has been working so hard to put up!
If you’re going to be in NYC August 9-25, come check out FringeNYC! With just a little under 200 shows, there’s sure to be something for everyone!