Wabash Blogs 2008 Summer Internships

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Goodrich on Life at the Phoenix Theatre

Matt Goodrich '09 - For the past two months I have been working at the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis. This professional non-for-profit theatre produces plays that touch on interesting and sometimes controversial social issues through genres ranging from musicals to dramas to comedies. The Phoenix’s goal is to reach out to the public and make them think seriously about these issues. This goal can be seen in their catch phrase which states, “Plays. With Fire.”

When I arrived, my original position was to be filled with both creative and administrative duties. I had the opportunity to audition with my supervisor, Bryan Fonseca, for the Phoenix’s final main stage production of the season, the Terrance McNally play SOME MEN, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had been cast. Suddenly my internship had two very different sides to one fiery coin.

My day job portion of the internship was centered on the technical aspects of theatre (the ‘behind the scenes’ kind of stuff). I was put under the instruction of two young and incredibly talented theatre technicians, Justin Kidwell, the Technical Director, and Dani Norberg, the Master Electrician. From Justin I learned the finer details of theatrical carpentry including all the steps from how to correctly read stage blueprints to actually building and polishing set pieces. I was also given the chance to work some really powerful and fun tools that I had never even seen before. I can now comfortably say that there is no tool with more spectacle involved than a metal circular saw with it’s cascading shower of sparks and deafening screech as it cuts through pipe. I was not only involved in the stage construction of SOME MEN and then later the play MURDERERS, but also in some major theatre improvements such as the new light grid that we installed with metal pipes and ceiling anchors. I now have significant working knowledge of stage carpentry and construction that I am sure will come to good use in the very near future.

While working under Dani I learned skills that have already presented job opportunities as I will be a technician for the Indy Fringe Festival late this August. Dani taught me all the ins and outs (literally) of lights and their many intricacies. I can now take apart a light and either clean or fix it for better performance. I can also correctly and safely provide maintenance to all electrical connections needed. I learned how to read a light plot as well as what each of the different light models can do and how they are used. I was taught how to create the connection from the lights to the circuits to the dimmers to the light board for a show to work and then I learned how to program and run a show from the light board itself. In my time with Dani I quickly got over my fear of heights and became quite at home on the 20 foot high scaffolding.

When I was not working as a theatre techie, I was on the stage rehearsing and performing SOME MEN. This was an amazing experience for a young actor straight out of Ball Theatre. I was able to talk to and learn from actors with 20 plus years of professional acting experience and learned about different schools of acting and how they applied individually to the show. I learned much from the rest of the cast as well as my director, Bryan Fonseca, and have grown leaps and bounds as an actor. It has been very different to be involved in a two week rehearsal and six week run rather than Wabash’s usual five week rehearsal and four day run. It has also been really cool to have my first show outside of Wabash received so well by so many Indianapolis theatre goers (By the way, show up! The show itself runs until July 19th and is well worth the trip!).

I couldn’t have had a better and more comprehensive real world theatre experience than I did here at The Phoenix Theatre. It has been an amazing time with fantastic people. I can’t wait to take the volumes I have learned here back to Wabash and beyond.

Photo above right: Goodrich (middle row, center) with the cast of SOME MEN

Photo above left: Goodrich (right) in SOME MEN