Emma Belew, a Lee Honors College junior and a 2019 Medallion Scholar, will be embarking on two prestigious opportunities this summer - an eight-week internship at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah and a month-long stage management fellowship with the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival in Waimea, Hawaii.
The competition for both internships is significant, but Emma’s background as a WMU College of Fine Arts student pursuing a BFA in Stage Management and a minor in Leadership and Business Strategy made her a strong candidate. In addition, Emma has worked on ten WMU Theatre productions and continues to assist with productions at nearby community theaters.
The Utah Shakespeare Festival is based out of Southern Utah University and each summer, USF produces approximately nine shows in a reparatory style - meaning as one show (or two or three!) is performing, there is another show or two rehearsing and waiting to move into the performance space. Typically, stage management teams in this style of theatre are rehearsing one show during the day and performing/rehearsing the other at night.
What was attractive to Emma about a USF position over other summer stock companies is the security that working within a University system provides. She added that, “Starting out in the industry can be intimidating, as can learning the management and operations of different theatres. Working within a university provides clear structures and defined duties which provide additional guidance and reassurance. There is a strong HR system, plenty of affordable or provided housing and a safe and walkable community. The leadership at USF is also grounded in making their work more accessible, not only to audiences, but to employees as well.”
Emma shared that over a period of eight weeks, she will participate as a paid production assistant on two shows: King Lear and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Emma explained that while this is a paid and titled position, since it is entry-level and temporary, it is as close to an internship as stage management can offer. Emma’s responsibilities as a production assistant will include tracking technical elements during rehearsals, distributing materials, assisting in interdepartmental communication and assisting the lead stage manager with meetings and rehearsals. (Per Emma’s contract, she will be present for the standard and technical rehearsals leading up to the shows’ openings, but she will not be there for the run of the shows.)
Once Emma concludes her time with the USF, she will travel to Hawaii to serve as a Stage Management Fellow with the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival (HPAF). While there, Emma will be assigned one of three productions to stage manage over one month and will be housed on Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s campus with food and tuition covered. HPAF stage management responsibilities include calling performances (telling operators when to move sets, send lighting and sound cues, cue special effects, etc.), leading meetings and rehearsals, communicating with designers, production management and performers, scheduling, and also creating reports. Emma adds that “Over the course of the fellowship, I will attend classes, seminars and workshops related to stage management while getting practical experience managing a full production. In addition, I will get to meet and work alongside industry professionals and collaborate with student and professional designers.”