Monday, November 23, 2009
When I was interviewed for the position of administrative intern at A Red Orchid, I only remember being asked one question: What brings you to A Red Orchid? The conversation went on from there, with my future boss telling me what I might do here and me rambling on about my past experience but that was the question that started the interview and was and is the most important one.
At the end of this past summer, having finished one internship at another mid-sized theater company, I was looking for another. Working for a mid-sized theater company meant that I got to do a lot more than photocopying, which is a real boon to an intern. I saw an ad on chicagoplays.com that described an administrative internship for a mid-sized equity theater that could include doing work in marketing, development and operations. Being a huge arts administrator dork, I am fascinated by all three whenever it has to do with theater. So I sent in my resume and cover letter. But that’s only part of why I came here and it’s certainly not why I am happy here and why I regret that December and the end of my internship are fast approaching.
Buried beneath the practicalities of building a career in arts administration is the deeper reason: the art here is wonderful. This is one of if not the best ensemble theatres in Chicago which says something powerful when you consider the vibrant, talented theater scene in this city. They do old and new plays, everything from Jacobean drama to a musical performed by children to world premieres written by a HBO screenwriter. It’s a breathtaking breadth of work that astonishes in its innovation and excellence. They make great art here and do so every day. And by interning here, whether I’m tracking down more funding or brainstorming marketing ideas or, yes, photocopying, I get to help make that art happen. When I go and see “Abigail’s Party” this February, a play that promises to be one of the best of the year, I’ll go knowing that I had a hand in getting it up there on that stage, even if all I did was make spreadsheets. And that right there, the opportunity that I’m so fortunate to have, the chance to be a quiet, small part of the achievement of great art, is the reason why I came here and why I stay and why I will be sad to go.