Where is your co-op?
My current co-op is at the Tony Award-winning American Repertory Theater, one of the largest theater companies in Greater Boston. Its mission is to expand the boundaries of theater, and its leaders and staff are most excited when they take on unique and challenging projects. A.R.T. thrives at creating new musicals and plays, and reimagining old classics. It is a space for artists to produce new work that often lives on in NYC, the rest of the country, and the world. In recent years, they have created many productions that moved to Broadway including Pippin, Finding Neverland, Waitress, and The Glass Menagerie.
What kind of work are you doing?
I work in the education and community programs within the Department of Marketing and Communications. The A.R.T. engages more than 5,000 community members and local students annually in project-based partnerships, workshops, conversations with artists, and other activities. I’ve been part of the team who spearheads the way our audiences think and engage with our productions. This work spans everything from teaching theater classes for children to conceptualizing and crafting the lobby experience. I do research, written and designed for Toolkits– our educational packets for students. In general, I contribute to the day-to-day work of the marketing department: editing videos, designing posters, and researching future community partners that could benefit from subsidized tickets.
What was the biggest surprise about your co-op?
I didn’t realize I would become such a part of the A.R.T.’s community of artists and staff. We think that the comradery of the college theater environment will end in the professional world, but I realized that professional theatre is just as accessible and welcoming to new people and ideas. It is truly a unique aspect of Northeastern’s co-op program that I’ve been able to work full time in a theatre of this stature and meet all sorts of different people who do jobs I had no idea existed. It has opened my mind to the multitude of artistic and career opportunities available to me.
What has been your favorite part of the co-op?
It’s hard to pick one project. From researching how to ice fish, to taking care of more than 50 marigold and basil seedlings planted by our audience members and growing in our lobby, a life in the theater is as diverse as its season, and the A.R.T. takes us to many different worlds. However, I have to pick teaching Kids Company Jr. because of how much I am inspired by the energy of my class of five-year olds. They truly demonstrate how innate storytelling is to humans, and they remind me of a time when my imagination was free of fear.
What have you discovered about working in professional theatre?
I’ve learned that someone’s love of the theater can manifest in many different ways, not only being on stage. Speaking to donors, managing actors’ hospitality, or writing a press release all contribute to achieving the artistic vision. I have also discovered that big, successful theater companies still engage in a simple act that’s common to all storytellers: asking questions. Great theater talents like actor Mark Rylance, director Diane Paulus, or writer/performer Eve Ensler do not just know more, they ask more questions. Part of being an artist is to never be satisfied in the search for balance between engaging and challenging an audience. Asking questions is essential to every level of artistry.
What will you bring back to the classroom from your co-op experience?
Do not stop after your first good idea. I was used to thinking of a project as one idea that needed to be continuously refined. I have learned that a project is the process of creating, combining, and throwing away many ideas. For example, creating a poster. I used to change the same file until it looked exactly as I intended. Now, I start with one poster idea, then create a completely different one, then another. That process of allowing different ideas to have an outlet instead of being limited to first choices has truly expanded the boundaries of my work. I can now start a project knowing that I do not have the answer for it yet, and I’m open to letting the work show me what it can become.