This summer I was an apprentice at Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, which has been bringing free Shakespeare to the people of Boston for 23 years. I found the apprenticeship by searching for acting internships in the North East.
I have a passion for Shakespeare and this internship lined up perfectly with what I was looking for. As an apprentice I worked on the Boston Common throughout the run of Richard III, and my responsibilities included (but were not limited to) selling merchandise, managing rental chairs, distributing and collecting surveys to the audience, and working as a greeter.
During the apprenticeship which lasted 8 weeks, I had voice classes, one-on-one monologue coaching with a member of the non-equity company, rehearsals and performances of our own production of Henry VI Part III, and I also was selected to understudy one of the roles on the Common, which meant that I observed rehearsals of Richard III. Apprentices also had talks with five of the equity actors in which they told us about how they reached this stage in their careers, and answered questions. Since so much of building a successful career as an actor involves forming relationships with fellow theater artists, this internship was vital for me. I am sure that I will work closely with my new contacts in the near future.
My advice to those looking for their own internship would be to first of all make sure you have a clear understanding of exactly what you want out of an internship experience. (Are you looking to connect with others who are at the same level as you, or do you want to focus on finding a mentor in your field? You should consider the location of your internship, ie: is it in a city you hope to work in in the future, and therefore a place where you can make connections that you can use to find a job after school, or is it in a place that you probably won’t return to but is an excellent opportunity nonetheless?). I also encourage applicants to read as much as possible about the internship in question. Research it online, try to get in contact with people who have done it, or call in and ask questions!
In terms of securing internship funding from Skidmore, I want to stress how important it is to apply to as many different awards as possible. I applied to SeeBeyond, the Parent’s Fund, and the general Summer Funded internship award (there may have been others). I initially did not secure funding, but was contacted at the end of the spring because another student didn’t accept their award, so I got to use it in their place. I’d also recommend asking the professors in your department if they know of any awards within the department. (The theater department has an award specifically for a summer training intensive that I attended a few years ago). Finally, some internships offer stipends, scholarships, or work-study options to supplement their cost, which is why it’s important to do your research!
The funding I received from Skidmore covered the cost of the program which included housing. I would not have been able to attend CSC without it. Through this program I have made lasting friendships as well as relationships with what I hope will be future employers. I learned about myself as an actor as well as a person and it was invaluable to me. I will never forget this summer and I am so thankful to Skidmore’s internship funding for making it possible.