|GW English Major
During the summer, as well as during the academic year, our majors often serve as interns in a wide range of locations. Classical Studies major, English minor, and Dean’s scholar Katherine Bradshaw recently sent us a summary of her experience in Summer 2013 as an intern for the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Congratulations Katherine and thanks for sharing your story!
Each morning this summer, I eagerly anticipated the workday ahead of me. Why was I so excited about my job? I was a Summer Education Intern with the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) in Washington, D.C., where I assisted with their intensive “Camp Shakespeare” acting program for young people ages 9-18. When I came to GW and entered the Dean’s Scholars In Shakespeare Program, I hoped to take advantage of the wonderful Shakespearean resources in the area. The internship with STC was a perfect opportunity to give back to an organization I love, learn from outstanding Shakespearean teaching artists, and hone my own educational skills.
As a long-time Shakespeare devotee, I had known about the Shakespeare Theatre Company for years. My enthusiasm for the Bard started at age seven, and became stronger as I got older. So, in high school, I attended STC’s Camp Shakespeare. The purpose of Camp Shakespeare is to increase students’ understanding of Shakespeare’s works through analysis, movement, improv, and performance. Camps run for two weeks, focusing on one particular play or theme. Professional actors – assisted by eager college students – teach classical acting techniques, stage combat, textual exploration, and more. Finally, each session ends with a camper performance of a play. Personally, my experiences as a camper became the capstone of my high school Shakespeare studies. So, when I entered college, I earnestly hoped that I could intern with STC; I wanted to help give 2013’s campers the joy that Camp Shakespeare gave me. When I mentioned the idea to my GW Shakespeare professors Alexa Alice Joubin and Holly Dugan, they encouraged me to apply and provided lots of support during the application process.
As an intern, my job was a composite of many things. My main role was assistant to the teaching artists – classically trained actors who use their professional skills to coach students in Shakespearean theater techniques. As such, I served as dramaturg, scribe, exercise and game leader, script editor, casting assistant, stuntwoman, human prop, program proofreader, concept demonstrator, gopher, and occasionally mother lion. I thoroughly enjoyed all of these jobs. But I had another, less official, role – learner. Often, I had the opportunity to watch the teaching artists at their work. They would get students excited about the plays while challenging each camper to go farther, think harder, and look deeper than he or she might instinctively. Since my future goal is to become a Shakespearean scholar and educator, I took copious notes on techniques for teaching about the author, the plays, and everything in between.
The teaching artists also took time to mentor me. Whenever I led an activity or exercise, they would follow up later with suggestions and advice for next time. They shared lessons, traded ideas, and discussed goals with me. One team of artists even let me teach a class on textual analysis for high school campers. The artists guided me through the planning process before the workshop, listened during it, then gave helpful and encouraging feedback afterwards. While teaching that class, the best part was seeing the “Aha!” look on a camper’s face when she understood the material that I covered. Before that moment, I knew that I wanted to share the importance of Shakespeare with students after I finished my formal education. But, seeing that camper’s eyes light up confirmed my direction and made me think to myself, “I really love teaching!”
My internship with the Shakespeare Theatre Company provided lots of similar epiphany moments. Every day there would be some concept, tip, or occurrence that I could ponder after work. When people ask me about my experience, I respond with, “It was wonderful, fantastic, and every other word for amazing” because, well, it was.