Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Squirms, Irwin and Children, Oh My!

The New 42 Apprentice Program creates paid employment opportunities for a diverse group of high school, college and graduate students across the city. Apprentices are assigned to a department depending on their personal fields of interest and work alongside theater staff and technicians throughout their tenure. They gain first-hand experience in performing arts administration and meet weekly with members of The New Victory Education Department to review the program’s curriculum.

What a day it had been: theater patrons left and right, blisters from dressy black shoes and children running around backstage? Oh, right… The New 42nd Street Gala. The biggest fundraiser of the year for The New 42nd Street: over $500,000 was donated and long-time patrons, staff and board members enjoyed a show and dinner in celebration of The New Victory Education Department. How the heck did everything actually successfully get put together? How about… coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. As well as lots of commitment, stress, meetings, luck, more meetings, more stress and… the Production Department of course! (*insert fanfare here*)

Bill Irwin performed with P.S. 111 students at the Gala
Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos
Hi, my name is Catherine Amore and I have been working for The New 42nd Street this fall as an apprentice in the Production Department. Each semester the New Vic hires an apprentice for each department at the organization. The apprentices learn what a usual (or unusual) day at the New Vic is like and they are incorporated into the daily work schedule via a mentor in their respective departments. Apprentices meet outside of their departments for a weekly meeting in which they take part in workshops – professionalism in the workplace, resume building, interview skills, etc. – and are also visited by one department each week to learn a little bit more of what specifically each department does. The Production Department, I have learned, is basically in charge of putting on each show successfully throughout the season in The New Victory Theater as well as coordinating special events held in the theater, such as the Gala.

On November 8th, 2010, the day of the Gala, I was put in charge of greeting the performers at stage door and staying in the green room (aka, the “hang out” area near the dressing rooms) to make sure that our special guests felt at home. I came straight from a chemistry lab at NYU into the hustle and bustle that was tech. The official tech time was scheduled to start at around 1:00pm and ended at, well, 6:50pm when the house finally opened for the Gala! 
Bill Irwin with The Handsome Little Devils
Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos

Throughout the day I welcomed Full Circle Dance (a hip hop group from the Bronx), The Handsome Little Devils (who were performing in the Squirm Burpee Circus at the theater that week) and Bill Irwin along with children from P.S. 111. Bill received The New Victory Arts Award for “bringing the kids to the arts and the arts to kids.” The finale of the show included a segment of twelve fourth graders in oversized “Bill” costumes performing some of Bill’s routines. It was the most adorable thing and the audience loved it! Backstage, the kids were a handful but fortunately members from the Ed department as well as one child wrangler funneled their energy and enthusiasm into their performance!

Interacting with all of these performers, especially Bill Irwin and my childhood celebrity obsession, Nathan Lane, was a real treat. The apprenticeship program at the New Vic is the perfect place to both act as a professional and still maintain the inner child in you whenever an opportunity like this arises. Though I did not have as big of a job as those in the Development or Education departments, the show would not have run without Production! When the crew has only about six hours total to run a final tech for an hour and a half long show going up that night that means magic needs to happen backstage. And it did! The tech went from being two hours behind to starting a successful show! A winner, if you ask me. Even after blisters and tired muscles accumulated from the many hours I was there, I would have done it again in a heartbeat. Congratulations New Vic, you’ve made magic happen in the theater once again!

The New Victory is now accepting apprentice applications for the Spring 2011 semester! Click here for department descriptions and application instructions.

Catherine Amore is a production intern at the New Victory Theater for the Fall 2010 season. She is a Junior in the Educational Theater department in Steinhardt at New York University. She plans to work in theater and with children and the New Vic has provided many amazing opportunities in which to do so.

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