Ursinus students in the theater

Emily Jolly

emjolly@ursinus.edu

Ursinus students have the exciting opportunity to participate in internships during their time here as students. Students have the extra advantage of being able to intern while studying on campus or while participating in programs such as PhillyX or study abroad. Two Ursinus students were interviewed about their internship experiences this semester. Rowan Hewson, a senior, is working at The Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, and Angela Bey, a junior, is working at the Wilma Theater while studying in Philadelphia through the PhillyX program.

Angela Bey

How did you find out about and eventually receive your current internship?

     I knew about the Wilma artistic and literary internship long before going to Ursinus! . . . it’s been a goal to work for the company in some capacity—especially in reading their mission statement encompassing social change, diversity, and brave art-making . . . I was reintroduced to the Wilma under the strangest of circumstances. The summer before my senior year [of high school], the film I’d been working on, “Selah and the Spades,” had Nell Bang Jensen as a producer . . . [s]he was their Producing Artistic Associate [at the Wilma]!  It was a whirlwind of a rewarding summer for many reasons, but befriending Nell was certainly a hidden gem. …After solidifying plans to do PhillyX in the fall [of junior year], my beloved supervisor Jay Gilman personally took on the challenge of helping me find [an] internship. It was time to “spread my wings,” we both agreed and I was excited to leave the nest . . . [w]e knew the same person [at the Wilma, Nell]! I reached out to Nell as a reference, Jay wrote a recommendation, and I composed a resume and a cover letter. I was super excited . . . [to] possibly [intern] at my dream job in the fall. But . . . [for several weeks] I heard nothing. I was sure I had not been chosen. With the semester rearing its head, I began scrambling for other options. Three more weeks later, I received an email from Kellie Mecleary—current Producing Associate at the Wilma. She invited me to an interview! I was elated.

What does your internship entail?

     As artistic and literary interns, my co-worker Zachary Flick and I do a number of things! The bulk of it is reading plays and writing literary reports to help decide future seasons at the Wilma. Unofficially, we sit in on Hothouse company rehearsals (the Wilma’s in-house company of Philly’s finest actors), help host weddings (Wilma-style), have invaluable coffee dates with theater artists, and be the only ones in the office to dress up for Halloween. However professional, it’s really hard to think of what I do as “work” proper. There have been many occasions where I’ve taken work home! In a recent conversation with our supervisors Kellie and Walter (Bilderback), Zach and I asked for more to do—not because there wasn’t enough (it’s plenty—especially as a college student), but because we love doing it!

What is your favorite part about it?

     I love discussions of plays after we’ve read them. I have learned so much in listening to the insightful, intelligent feedback that is said about the diverse works we read. Reading and analyzing such a plethora of art has only made me a better artist and, now, administrator too.

What’s the most challenging part?

     I struggle with being thorough and concise in literary reports. Often times, I am insecure about whether they are too short or too long. With a background at Philadelphia Young Playwrights, it was much easier to write literary reports because I often knew the playwrights and their work. I felt I could be more holistic in my critiques. That is not the world of the Wilma; there is an emphasis on the play rather than the playwright’s history or background. While this has been an invaluable shift in my thought processes—especially in understanding the “real world” of art-making—I still find myself wanting to do more research on playwrights than is necessary to get a broader scope of their work for the reports. Looking forward, I will be doing much less of that.

What have you learned?

     I have learned more than I can put into words. I want to work in arts administration sometime [in] my career due to my experiences at Philadelphia Young Playwrights and the Wilma. As an artist and a consumer of art that believes all work should have some element of social change, the Wilma is a non-profit that strives to fulfill its mission statement in every aspect of the company. It is invaluable learning the logistics of executing this with so much grace and consistency. Unfortunately, theater at this scale is a business. But when the passion, tact, and skill is there, the Wilma has taught me that anything is possible.

Is it worth it?

     1000000000000000000000%.

Rowan Hewson

How did you find out about and eventually receive your current internship?

     I’m currently interning at The Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville. I found out about the place from [Michele Poruban] at Career and Professional Development, but once I went to the theater to speak with someone I learned that one of my professors, [Dr. Fleeger] is close with the person I met with who works at the theater and is now my supervisor. So, [Fleeger] the professor at Ursinus helped as sort of a reference for me.

What does your internship entail?

     As far as what it entails, I have been researching the history of the theater for the current staff because since they were under new ownership in 1996, they don’t have much knowledge of what was featured beforehand since it opened in 1903. I go through old newspapers at the Phoenixville library to see what I can dig up from the entertainment sections. I also sometimes volunteer in the box office selling tickets.

What is your favorite part about it?

     I think my favorite part is getting to learn more about my film studies minor outside of campus. I was originally looking for internships that would be well suited for my English major, but this is now helping me think about more options for my future as far as careers.

What’s the most challenging part?

     The most challenging part is keeping up the journals for the internship that I have to send in to my campus supervisor. Once I got into the swing of things for the internship, I found that my reports weren’t very different from one another as time went on because I really am just doing the same work every week.

What have you learned?

     I have obviously learned a lot about the history of the theater, but I also have learned what goes into keeping a non-profit theater up and running. It features more than just first-run films, but it’s difficult to have events that cater to all audiences and are popular.

Is it worth it?

     It is definitely worth it, I get to meet a lot of cool people who volunteer there, mostly older people who have been a fan of the theater for a long time. The people I have met and learned about have definitely made it worth it.