I grew up in a suburban New Jersey town that, when I was younger, seemed like the most stifling place ever. Now that I am spending most of my time in North Bumblefuck, NY, I have a newfound respect for my hometown.
For example, there are a lot of theaters in the area, something that probably (read: completely) influenced my decision to pursue theater, especially theater education. One of those theaters, which I’ll call Jersey Shakespeare (JS for short), is the place where I discovered that there was a viable future in teaching classical theater—I was fifteen, and my life was completely changed. This summer, I have returned to this place as an education intern, assistant teaching the students enrolled in the same program that affected me so deeply.
At least, that’s what I thought.
As it turns out, the education interns are really like the stage managers of a summer-long, site-specific performance art piece called ‘JS.’ We schedule everything, and make sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing, and where. We are at every location before anyone else, and we leave it after they do. We help teach four programs over the course of the summer—two middle school sessions and two high school sessions—and we serve as production and tech crew for all of their final projects. We do the laundry for both of the Graduate-level actors’ touring shows every night, so that their costumes are clean.
Also, we don’t get paid.
I’ve come close to a mental breakdown several times this summer, but I really feel that it’s shown me that I can totally handle this industry as a career—after all, I’m doing the job of at least three theater professionals, doing just one will be easy!
I haven’t been blogging this because I’ve been so busy, but now that the summer is winding down, I figure I’ll do a series of entries about my experiences—some about the people I work with, some about the kids I’ve taught, and some just about the insanity that is the classical theater world.
I’ll start with a quick rundown of the major players in my summer:
Cher: Named for her terrifying Cher impression, this is one of the other education interns. She’s going to be a senior in college, and I’ve really warmed up to her over the course of the summer. She says some of the most ridiculous and random things I have ever heard.
Mary: She did the same program as I did at JS, and we’ve been friends ever since. However, I don’t know if I can continue to be friends with her after the summer, because she’s been driving me up the fucking wall.
Abigail: One of my bosses, she seems like a sweet woman at first, and she usually is. Unfortunately, the weirdest things set her off (for example, when the postings I put up on the bulletin boards are not straight), and she turns into a rampaging bitch.
Jake: Another of my bosses (he outranks Abigail, and I work most often with him), he is a great guy, but often lives in his own world, not understanding what his demands actually require me to do. A total gossip whore. No one’s quite sure of his sexuality, and it’s a HUGE point of contention amongst the interns (for the record, I have not yet made a decision). Responsible for The Costuming Incident.
The White Rabbit: The third, and highest ranking, of my bosses. So named for his affinity for Alice in Wonderland (he directed a VERY well received adaptation a few years back), as well as the fact that he is ALWAYS in a hurry, he appears to subsist entirely on cigarettes, regular coca cola (not cocaine, though I have my suspicions), and adrenaline. I have never seen him eat. Brilliant, but insane.
Chava: A directing intern, she has been working with the classes I’ve helped teach. Love her as a person, can’t stand her as a director. Very Jewish.
Tank: Also known as The Boy. Alternates between acting like my boyfriend and ignoring me like a thirteen-year-old girl. Currently driving me nearly to insanity.
That’s pretty much everyone I work closely with, although there are certainly a LOT more colorful characters. It has definitely been an eye-opening summer, to say the least.