Theatre Students Produce on and off Stage


For every successful actor, there's an entire crew of people backstage who make sure the show goes on. At MCLA, the theatre department consists of not only many talented actors, but some gifted and hard-working production students, as well.  Over the summer, many can be found working at internships and staff positions at theatre companies throughout New England.

"I love that a lot of our students work," said Dawn Shamburger, MCLA professor in fine and performing arts.

Every semester and over the summer, at least one theatre student majoring in production or performance works at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) at the box office, in development or production. Other students this summer also are working at places such as the Barnstormers Theatre in New Hampshire and the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine.

"I try to make sure that I encourage my students to get jobs in the summer," Shamburger said. "That's where they're going to build their resume. They work in our shops and they work on our stage. Adding to that education is working. Sometimes it's internships and sometimes it's positions. I try to encourage the internship first because it gets them out there and working.

"There are a lot of opportunities in internships," she continued. "It's an extra education with the production's panelists, designers and staff. The professionals working in the theatre company will talk to them and work closely with them, in some cases. It's not just cleaning up or pushing a broom around or getting coffee. They're actually working and doing and getting experience."

Not only is MCLA in close proximity to a number of summer theatre companies in the region, the College has earned a reputation for having hard working and experienced students who are eager to learn. Once they've hired one MCLA student, they want more, Shamburger said.

"We had one student working at Ogunquit last summer. She's back this summer and they hired another MCLA student this summer," Shamburger explained. "Our students have the reputation of getting in there and working, getting it done and working hard."

That kind of experience is crucial to getting a summer internship in these students' chosen profession. And, because the internships often lead to paid positions, Shamburger encourages students to participate in an internship before their junior year.

 "Whether it's paid or not, an internship's really a way to get your name in there, into the company and get something on your resume," she said. "Depending on the theatre company, often if you do a good job and have a good reputation and they see you working hard, they're going to bring you back next year as a staff member instead."

Like the region's theatre companies, graduate schools, too, are learning of MCLA's talented theatre production students.

"A lot of our students are going on to grad school. Whenever I talk to grad schools our students have gone to, they say, 'If you have any more of this kind of student, please send them our way,'" Shamburger said.