I’ve been undergoing the age old struggle of a student on co-op trying to balance time for work, play and reflection. As of yet, I haven’t really achieved a stable balance, but I am taking this as one of the lessons that I am learning while I’m on the final chapter of my co-op adventures.
For my last co-op, I had landed a position as an Administration Intern as a part of Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theater’s (WHAT for short) summer professional development intern program. A recent addition to its summer season, WHAT’s internship program provides us with an opportunity to work in depth within the production and administrative departments of WHAT, assisting department heads with their tasks while receiving free housing and a weekly stipend. Working in the office, my responsibilities range from many different kinds of tasks, from the more technically savvy side and mundane, to the hands on and kinesthetic.
While attending my office hours during the week, I am normally in charge of answering and soliciting emails, updating calendar listings online, organizing and taking inventory of items for concessions, printing inserts and programs and posting updates for upcoming events on the large roadside sign outside of the theater. Additionally, on the weekend and throughout the week, I also work within the box office, answering calls and completing ticket orders, or working as the front of house manager during show nights.
Outside of the office, my responsibilities have also included posting and reposting posters for upcoming events in venues outside of the theater. I really enjoyed this process because it has allowed me to get out of the office and forces me to interact with community members of the entire outer cape. My coworkers and I would enter restaurants, coffee shops and local businesses, often crossing paths with interesting personalities. My second responsibility outside of the theater is making sure that the living spaces of the actors’ housing are comfortable, and making sure that they are stocked up with supplies like toiletries and trash bags.
In addition to our work duties, us interns here at WHAT also take part in a series of professional seminars, held weekly by rotating staff members that cover a multitude of topics, from marketing to budgeting. This requires some homework, including a fun group project where a partner and I had to analyze a script for a show, pitch it and construct a budget for the show if WHAT decided to do it during the next upcoming summer season. This project was cool because it allowed me to think about the elements that go into a show. Sure, the script and intention behind it is important, but it’s imperative to take all components into account.
I’m not going to lie, this co-op has been a challenging one to keep up with. The schedule of my weekly tasks is always transient to accommodate with “hands on deck” situations, like when we are planning for large events like the annual summer Gala fundraiser. At times, the situations I’ve encountered here would be too much, and I would need to take a larger amount of time to devout to self-care. This has encouraged me to break out of my bubble and explore fun places on my days off, like Provincetown, Nauset Coastguard Beach and even Orleans.
I have enjoyed having access to WHAT’s thought-provoking plays and post show talk-backs, which offer something a little different than standard theatrical entertainment. WHAT seeks to get the audience asking questions and to start thinking about issues, something that I personally value in artwork. Over the summer season, play themes have included over coming differences, exploring sexuality, and confronting prevalent oppressive behaviors in the roots of our society. As an actor, I’ve appreciated being able to connect with other professional actors to ask them for advice and learn from the knowledge of their experiences. In the meantime, I’ve also gotten to witness some amazing people mount the stage.
This summer has been a mixture of experiences. It’s been hard to be here, but it’s also going to be hard to say goodbye. I have met some amazing people who are trying their very best, despite their human imperfections, to get the work done and produce high quality work for the summer residents of Cape Cod. I have made it to the beach, swam with seals, spotted a pod of dolphins, hit the dance floor more than once, and even had the chance to perform with Kristen Chenoweth as a back up singer for her show in Provincetown. Needless to say, this may not have been the easiest co-op, but I have seen some growth happen, and it has made me aware of what I need to do and protect for myself.
Here is a link at the bottom in case you want to learn more about WHAT: