We can’t speak for everyone, but here is what Avery Regan (Lighting Intern, 2016) had to say to future interns:
To the Future Intern at the Great River Shakespeare Festival,
My name is Avery Reagan, and I served as one of the two Lighting Interns with the Great River Shakespeare Festival during their 13th Season in the Summer of 2016. First off, let me congratulate you for choosing to apply to such a wonderful company. GRSF is truly one of the greatest theatre establishments I had the pleasure of working with so early in my career.
I’m writing to inform you about the process and expectations you will have as an Intern. The GRSF is built upon hard work, long hours, and high standards for theatre. I will not sugarcoat the reality of all the work you will put in throughout the summer. Once you arrive in early May, you work all summer until you move out in August. Be expected to show up early and be held accountable (with donuts) if you’re late. If you choose to participate in the Apprentice/Intern Production later in the season, be expected to work after your normal work schedule. It is not unheard of to work a full day with the mainstage productions and then work several hours on your own production.
Coffee is available, don’t worry.
It should be known that you are an intern and not a professional technician or designer. You will be held to high standards, but not impossible ones. This company encourages education amongst its members. If they wanted to hire professionals to do the work, they would have. While working in the various shops early in the summer, you will undoubtedly be asked to do something you’ve never done before. You will never be asked to do something you’re not comfortable with, but I encourage you to ask questions and learn something new if and when that situation presents itself to you.
Take advantage of every opportunity presented before you throughout the summer. The GRSF provides you with workshops, tutorials, and hands-on experiences to better your skills in the theatre. Basically, be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as you can. There are other members in the festival besides interns. The company is full of professional technicians, designers, actors, directors, managers, and artistic geniuses who have been working in the industry for some time. They know what they’re talking about. Befriend them and listen to what they have to say.
I would highly encourage you to participate in the Intern/Apprentice Production. This was probably my favorite part of the whole festival. The production is viewed similarly to that of a mainstage production. You will be given a small budget, small inventory items, scheduled deadlines, and weekly production meetings. Some Interns choose to work in a different field than what they were hired (ie. a Costume Intern wants to work as the Scenic Designer), and some choose to try something different in their own field (ie. a Lighting Designer would like to be the Master Electrician). I served as the Lighting Designer for Coriolanus and was mentored by the Festival’s Head Lighting Designer, Lonnie Alcaraz. No matter what field you will be working in during the festival, take the time to get to know the designers. And if one of them offers to mentor you throughout the Intern/Apprentice Production, you take that offer. You can thank me later.
If I could pick one piece of advice I gained from the process of designing Coriolanus, it would be to remain positive and be creative with your inventory. It is easy to look at the size of the budget or the quality of materials you’ll have to work with and immediately think about all the design ideas you can’t do, but I encourage you to look at your inventory and view the possibilities of what you can do. You will be surprised to learn that you won’t end up sacrificing much of your original design.
In my opinion, the Great River Shakespeare Festival is one of the greatest Summer Repertory Theatre Festivals in the Midwest. They respect their workers’ time, they encourage you to stretch yourself and try new things, they support you when work can become stressful, and they go above and beyond to make sure you are gaining something from your experience. Be prepared to work. I promise your payoff will be sweet.
Welcome to the GRSF Family,