Learning from the Inside Out: Hear from the 2018–19 Fellows

By Annie Sears

Every year, each department here at A.C.T. welcomes a Fellow for the season, providing mentorship to young professionals as they transition into the theater industry. For ten months, we Fellows are immersed in the world of San Francisco’s premier regional theater, learning how a nonprofit runs from the inside out. Some of us are on our feet in the rehearsal room, and others are writing for Words on Plays. Some are working with local youth in classrooms, and others are working with needle and thread in our costume shop. Within our respective fields, we’ve been growing both personally and professionally, acquiring all sorts of random and useful skills. Here’s an authentic peek into what we’re learning here at A.C.T.

Some of the 2018–19 Fellows decorating The Geary before A Christmas Carol. Photo by Amy Dalba.
  • Hannah Clague, Education and Community Programs Fellow: I learned when to wear sneakers to work (when you’re rolling around of the floor teaching a group of sixth graders to act), and when to wear heels (when you’re in a board meeting trying to secure funding for these youth classes). 
  • Brianna Grabowski, Stage Management Fellow: During A Christmas Carol, I oversaw 28 children. Let’s just say I learned a lot more about lice than I ever wanted.
  • Lyre Alston, Wig Fellow: I’ve learned how to ventilate, style, set, and essentially create wigs of all kinds. Through this, I have continued to learn how to become and remain inspired to create.
  • Emma Penny, General and Company Management Fellow: I’ve learned how to successfully drive up and down the hills of San Francisco (often with artists in the passenger seat).
  • Mads Leigh-Faire, Special Events Fellow: I send out a lot of mailings. To handle these large postage jobs, I learned how to mail merge—which also helped me get my holiday cards out on time this year!
  • Ariana Johnson, Artistic Fellow: While assistant-directing A Christmas Carol, I learned how to do internal understudy casting for 50 actors (ranging from 8 to 85 years old) to cover 118 roles. 
  • Kayla Kaufman, Artistic Fellow: I learned the easiest way of staying mobile as a director in a rehearsal room is to use an instant stand-and-sit desk (AKA a music stand)—thanks, Pam MacKinnon! I also learned that, when you are grumpy, you need a sweater, a piece of cheese, or both—thanks again, Pam MacKinnon!
  • Kinsey Thomas, Costume Fellow: I have learned how the A.C.T. costume shop manages and maintains the 100,000 costume items we have in stock.
  • Aaron Higareda, Marketing Fellow: I learned that the “command Z” function can save my life when doing daily sales reports in an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Annie Sears, Publications Fellow: I research a lot of random subjects for Words on Plays. I learned that casu marzu is a cheese filled with maggots, Russian speakers have two words for what English speakers classify as blue, and birds use the magnetic bits in their beaks to maintain spatial awareness.
  • Ashley Mareira, Development Fellow: I’ve learned how to set up a board meeting: create an agenda, collect RSVPs, order catering, take meeting minutes, and conduct cleanup.
  • Hannah Rosenzweig, Conservatory Fellow of Academic Programs: I keep up on our alumni so that we can share all the exciting projects they’re up to, which means I have to make sure that news alerts are actually about our alumni and not someone with the same name. So I’ve become an expert at confirming identities through light internet stalking.
Some of the 2018–19 Fellows at A.C.T.'s Fall Celebration in November 2018. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.

Want to learn more about A.C.T.’s Fellowship Program? Join us for the free Bay Area Fellowship/Internship Fair on Saturday February 9 from 11:00–1:30 at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater. Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Magic Theatre, SF Opera, and The UC Theatre will all be there representing their programs, too. In the meantime, follow the Fellows on Instagram @actfellows.

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