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Summer Spotlights

posted on September 7th, 2018 by Philip Merrick

It’s the start of a new semester, and JKB students are coming back after eventful summers. Read here for the personal accounts of what two actors and one stage manager did with their time away from campus!

Jessie March ’21: Saratoga Shakespeare (Saratoga Springs, NY)

This summer I was an acting intern with Saratoga Shakespeare Company and participated in their Young Theater Professional Company right here in lovely Saratoga Springs. Saratoga Shakes is a professional theater company that puts on two Shakespeare productions in about 4 weeks during the summer. I performed in the company’s mainstage production of As You Like It and I sang, danced, and acted my way through the YTPC “Shakespeare for All” performance of Shakespeare’s “Greatest Hits” (a performance comprised of Shakespeare’s most famous scenes and monologues, strung together with transitions of devised movement). In addition to performing, all the interns were required to set up and strike the space for every show, so I got to learn valuable skills pertaining to handling sound equipment and costumes and other tech elements. For example, I now know how to properly coil cable (ask me about it)! The days were long and the sun was hot, but I learned so much from the challenges and from listening to those around me and I know that I now have a better understanding of myself and all of which I am capable. Performing outside in Congress Park was truly remarkable and having the opportunity to profoundly connect with the community of Saratoga made this internship an unforgettable experience.

Jessie March performs/rehearses for [?] at Saratoga Shakespeare, 2018. Photo by Ziggy Schulting ’18

Rebecca Rose Schilsky ’20: Boomerang Theater Company and Botswana on Broadway (New York, NY)

This summer, I had the most amazing opportunity working as a Stage Managing intern for the Boomerang Theater Company! This company produces a different Shakespeare production for free each summer, and this season, we did a production of Twelfth Night where our actors used just a small patch of grass to bring Illyria to life. Being in an outdoor space gave me the opportunity to develop different stage managing skills: for example, where to find studio spaces in the city during thunderstorms, how to create an appropriate changing room with a tent, and even when to call off a production due to weather restrictions. Ultimately, what was truly incredible about this internship is that I was able to be a part of this production from start to finish, from the production meeting to final bows, and from “but that’s all one” to “our play is done.” After this wonderful experience, I can truly say that this company did “strive to please you every day”!

At the end of my summer, I was also given the chance to work as a Production Assistant for the production “Botswana on Broadway”: a dance piece presented by the Battery Dance Company at the PlayStation Theater. It’s truly hard to write down how inspirational and exceptional this process was for me. Flying all the way from Botswana, Africa for only three performances, these dancers presented the mystical relationship that Botswana has with pula (rain). As a production assistant, I was able to work on this show from start to finish in a highly professional environment (and even got to be on headset during the performance! What a dream come true!). With long hours comes a lot of responsibility–I was able to lead an entire strike load-out individually until 3am–but I couldn’t imagine anything more worth it. This summer was jam-packed with such incredible productions and experiences (did I mention I also taught 3-5 year olds music for 6 weeks?) and I am so thankful for Skidmore guiding me to pursue these internships. I cannot wait to see what Skidmore College has next in store for me!

Coco McNeil ’21: Shakespeare and Company Summer Training Institute (Lenox, MA)

This summer I attended Shakespeare and Company’s Summer Training Institute. I spent four weeks in the wonderful Berkshires in Lenox, Massachusetts. It was a grueling six days-a-week, fourteen-hour day schedule filled with everything from movement and voice training to clown and sonnet work. I expected to gain some foundational training, but I didn’t expect to have a truly life-changing month of self-discovery, self-love, and reconnection with Shakespeare. The program is practically indescribable in just a paragraph, but here are some musings and lessons that have stuck with me: The text, my breath, and my body are all rooted in the same spring that comes from the earth. I gain power and vulnerability from using that spring as the source for my work. Daring to be simple is challenging but rewarding. Words hold the capacity for everything. Judgements won’t help me grow as an artist. Put the work before everything. I am the author of my own experience. I learned invaluable lessons from my teachers and peers, and was reminded that doing this work is scary, beautiful, and important. The program reaffirmed my belief that Shakespeare is always relevant and immortal. I also left the Berkshires with a deep emotional bond with a group of people that I never would have met had it not been for Shakespeare and Company. This summer gave me a much needed reminder of why I love creating theater, and it couldn’t have come sooner.

Annabelle Vapes ’19 and Coco McNeil ’21 at Shakespeare and Company, 2018. Photo by Carsey Walker

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Curated and edited by co-editors-in-chief of STLN Kallan Dana ’19 and Philip Merrick ’19.


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