About a month ago, I finished a six week internship with a nearby theatre. I was the intern for their production of The Music Man, and the opportunity offered experience and education that I so greatly needed before heading off to college. I feel very lucky that this experience fell into my lap, and I learned a lot during my time behind the scenes.
1. You can't do everything.
At the beginning of my time with Stage Right Productions, I had a day where I tried to 1. Block a dance scene, 2. organize costumes, and 3. run music for one of the songs all at the same time. This wasn't the norm, which was good, but I learned quickly that you can't do everything. I could do all those things, yes, but not at the same time. In order for me to give each part of my work all the attention it deserves, I had to learn how to keep track of all the things I was asked to do, and do everything to the best of my ability as quickly as I could.
2. Tough skin, soft heart.
I actually heard this in an interview with a Tony Award Nominee around the time I started the internship. In any job, any industry, any situation, you will encounter people asking you to do something differently. Sometimes this is constructive, other times this is plain criticism. I didn't experience anything like this during the internship, but the interview I watched was on my mind the whole time. I kept thinking that if I want to continue on this path towards the career that I want, I will have to grow some thicker skin. Even so, I can't let that toughness make it's way to my heart. Be tough. Take every piece of criticism to see if you can make something constructive out of it. But after that, be sure to stay kind. Being criticized can make you pessimistic. Don't let it make you into a bad person.
3. Say you can, and then learn how along the way.
One of the first things I was asked to do was block a scene for one of the dances. I had never done that before, but figured out how very quickly. There were many other things I didn't know how to do before I was asked to do them, and they weren't easy things to learn, either. But I figured it out, and while I wasn't the absolute best at everything, I still did them. Because that's what you do when you're learning. Now, I feel far more prepared for any job in a theatre I get in the future, and that's all thanks to me being asked to do things I didn't know how to do.
4. "The moment you think you're good enough, you're done."
I overheard someone say this, and I had to write it down because it's so true. You may be the most talented actor/singer/dancer in the entire world, past, present, and future. But the second you begin to think that you deserve the parts you want, or that a certain role is beneath you, you're done in the industry. Being humble is so important. If you don't take constructive criticism or allow yourself to learn new things, you'll stay static. You won't develop into what you could become.
5. Every good director brings the humanity to each scene in the show.
The director that I worked with is one of the smartest directors I've ever met. One of the things that I think makes her so great is her ability to bring out the empathy, the soul, the humanity in each and every scene. My first day, I was with the director while she talked to one of the people in the cast. They were creating a backstory for the character, something that would bring more purpose to what was happening. I've been creating backstories for the characters I've played for years, but I didn't stop to think that this is the kind of thing that brings more depth to the story you're telling. By bringing out more in a character, you give the actor a reason and purpose for why they're doing what they are doing.
Towards the end of the internship, I told my mom that I figured those in the show get more out of it than the audience. Sure, the audience experiences the emotions the actor is portraying and they in turn take something from the performance, but those who are actively involved in the production know the backstories they've created for their characters. They know everything they've been told during rehearsals. They know the symbolism of their actions, and they know every hidden joke.
I am so incredibly thankful for my time with Stage Right Productions. I ended up there in such a random way, and I'm so glad that I did. I'm starting school in less than a month, and that means I'll be around other drama minors, many of whom may be trying to get to the same place I am. I feel far more prepared than I did when I graduated. I know that I can do more than I could before. I know that I can handle being thrown into things without really knowing what I'm dong. I know that I'm capable of working towards this career. Again, I am so thankful for my time with Stage Right Productions. I can't think of a better way I could have spent the beginning of my summer.