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Festival Season

B-HIP intern learns from legends of theatre


07/22/2009

For the first time, a MCLA student and intern with the Berkshire Hills Internship Program (B-HIP) is working with the Tony Award-winning Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF). Rachel Seklecki '11 (above) of Southampton, MA is serving as the festival's development intern this summer.

Held at the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College, WTF is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year. The festival is famous for bringing award-winning actors, directors and playwrights to the Berkshires, engaging a loyal audience of both residents and summer visitors.

"A WTF season covers a broad range of theatrical endeavors, revisiting classic plays with exciting new productions on our Main Stage, developing and nurturing bold new works on the Nikos Stage, and offering audiences a rich array of cultural events including free theatre, late-night cabarets, readings, workshops, and educational programs like the Greylock Theatre Project, a program for children in neighboring North Adams," says Seklecki.

While best known for its acclaimed productions, WTF also is home to unparalleled training and professional development programs, serving new generations of aspiring theatre artists and managers.

At WTF, Seklecki works with the director of development and the audience development director. As the first development intern that WTF has ever had, she is enjoying a unique experience.

"Since I work in a department of two people, I also have a lot of responsibility and input in our office," she says. "I really enjoy that. I work with a lot of upper-level management as well, which is very unusual in Williamstown Theatre Festival. They bring in over 300 staff members, interns and apprentices in the summertime, and, as you can imagine, not everyone gets this kind of experience."

Seklecki particularly likes working in development because it affords her the opportunity to communicate and connect with others who share her interest in theatre.

She also enjoys the challenges associated with fundraising for the arts.

"Williamstown Theatre Festival is working to further develop their relationship with the community and with donors," Seklecki says. "It is very interesting to see how the organization does this. I think it's always harder to fundraise for the arts because they compete against so many other important causes and so many other forms of entertainment. That particular field is constantly reinventing itself to attract and expand their audiences."

Her work also includes tasks ranging from preparing spreadsheets and mailings to planning events, booking tickets, and writing letters. She is in charge of WTF's social networking and online relations like their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

A particularly fun aspect of her internship is the opportunity to see all of the festival's plays.

"I have also met some famous actors like Judith Light, Katie Finneran, Edward Hermann, and Dylan and Becky Ann Baker," Seklecki says. "The really nice thing about these actors is that they love to be in Williamstown and they're very down-to-earth and all-around great people."

For more information about B-HIP, go to www.mcla.edu/About_MCLA/Community/bcrc/b-hip .