The Inside Scoop On Theatre Internships
There comes a time in life when those of us who grew up doing theatre realize we aren’t going to be the next Ben Platt; 23 years old with Pitch Perfect as a film credit, a leading role in Broadway’s hottest ticket, and a 2017 Tony Award for Best Actor. While some people do “make it” in the theatre industry, many decide to make careers out of theatre in entirely different ways.
Some attend graduate school to get a Master’s degree in arts administration or performing arts management. Others go on to develop their skills in production positions that they thrived at in colleges, such as stage management or set design. Many work and perform at community theatres in their hometowns. There are a myriad of options one can choose from when determining how to proceed with a career in theatre or simply keep it a part of their life. The most common “first step” in doing so is landing an internship.
Theatre internships, particularly in New York City, were a hot commodity amongst my college friends. Many people who I did theatre with were fortunate enough to work at top theatre companies and even landed themselves a coveted seat at the Tony Awards. This is true for one of my close friends from college, Andrew Brown, who decided late in his college career to drop one of his majors and pursue a career in theatrical casting.
With very little prior experience in this specific, competitive field, Andrew had to start from the bottom and work his way up in the world of New York City theatre interns.
Since the summer of 2016, Andrew has held internships at several well-known New York City theatre companies including Liz Lewis Casting Partners, Stewart Whitley, McCorkle Casting Ltd. and most recently, The Manhattan Theatre Club. As a result of this rapid success, I decided to sit down and talk with him about his experiences this past year and get his insight on the process of applying for and completing a theatre internship.
MB: What made you want to intern in the theatre industry?
AB: Theatre has been a constant for me my entire life, so when I sat down and thought about it, it made a lot of sense that I wanted it to be my career. So much casting goes on in the theatre world and the process has always intrigued me, especially being on the other side of the table most of the time. Plus, I loved being immersed in the theatre industry during award season.
MB: What was it like applying for your theatre internships and what advice would you give to people just starting the process?
AB: It was really challenging for me because I didn’t have a lot of experiences designing my resume and cover letters for this industry position, so it was a learning curve. My advice would be to create a cover letter that stands out – one that demonstrates why you want the position, your qualifications, and how you can contribute towards the company. Do as much research as you can so you can be completely informed when you walk into the interview, but always have a few questions ready to ask when they ask if you have any questions. Most importantly, be positive. Walk the fine line between being cautious/nervous and overconfident in the interview and know that you have nothing to lose but plenty to gain.
MB: What was a day in the life like at your most recent internship at MTC and what duties were you expected to perform on a daily basis?
AB: The thing with casting is that it varies day to day. Some days might have nothing going on while others might have me hurrying around making sure everything is in order for auditions, readings, or a show. I mostly assisted with administrative tasks like helping with audition preparation, answering phone calls, reading scripts, managing upkeep of actor contact database and organizing production books. It was a lot of work but I learned a lot of really important skills.
MB: What are some of the challenges you faced at this internship and the others you’ve had in the past?
AB: Everyone knows that the entertainment industry has a lot of big personalities, just like every other industry, so there would be multiple instances where I would need to keep a cool head when interacting with difficult characters. Even though there are plenty of people in the theatre business who might be difficult to deal with and are quite particular, there are just as many people who are friendly, considerate, and truly inspiring that make you love being part of the industry.
MB: What are some cool perks of being a theatre intern?
AB: There are so many. Definitely free tickets to shows on Broadway and Off-Broadway, weekly seminars with industry professionals and themed office socials on the first Friday of every month. I also got to run lines with Tony Award winner Laura Linney for her performance in The Little Foxes. The biggest perk was being able to go to the Tony Awards this year which was a dream come true.
MB: Why do you think it’s important to intern in the theatre industry?
AB: It’s a really demanding industry so I think that the most important reason would be that you have to see if you even really want to pursue it. It’s also nearly impossible to just jump into a job in the theatre industry. You need to gain experience and really know what you’re working with because if you don’t have a good grasp on your responsibilities then you’re going to overwhelm yourself completely.
MB: Do you feel prepared for the “real world” from your internship(s)?
AB: Definitely! That’s the point of internships, really: to give you a taste of what’s to come in the profession by letting the intern observe and even get a hand in the action.
Andrew is currently working as a Casting Assistant at Central Casting in New York City and will be working at the New York Musical Festival Student Leadership Program this summer!
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