Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff: Apprentice Edition

By Claire Sabatine, Marketing Apprentice

Apprentice Ishaar Gupta teaches area students.

Apprentice Ishaar Gupta teaches area students.

Hartford Stage, a Tony Award-winning theatre company that produces world class work, has a dedicated Education department that promotes creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking in schools and communities in the area.

The initiative does not stop there, though, as Hartford Stage also acts as a platform for aspiring theatre professionals to gain hands-on experience and prepare them for their careers. For a little over 10 years, Hartford Stage’s Apprentice program has done just that for recent college graduates like me. The company has grown from having only a couple Apprentices to an all-time-high this year of 12 Apprenticeships across 11 different departments of the company.

Applicants pour in from all over the country. This year’s Apprentice class has a mix of Connecticut natives like Arts Administration Apprentice Molly Archambault; northeast neighbors, including Properties Apprentice Kaitie Hughes from Pittsburgh; others from New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, and even cross-country travelers all the way from Virginia and Oklahoma.

Apprentice Kaitie Hughes working in the Prop Shop.

Apprentice Kaitie Hughes working in the Prop Shop.

Typically, candidates are recent college graduates who have advanced experience in their respective fields, ready to make the next step and bridge the gap between the academic and professional worlds. Artistic Apprentice Allison Gold, for instance, says she “started directing as a freshman in high school and never looked back.” After graduating from Stanford University, she worked as a freelance director in NYC before finding her way to Hartford Stage. Others have had less direct but still impressive paths. Emily Burke studied musical theatre at the University of Mary Washington and worked in the wedding industry in Washington, D.C., before becoming the Development Apprentice. She explained, “Development combines a lot of my skills and interests: event planning, audience cultivation and talking to people who are passionate about theatre.”

Being almost two months into the program, there has been a lot to learn already within all departments, no matter the level of experience leading up to our time in Hartford. Nathaniel Vilandre, Production/Company Management Apprentice, worked in Company Management at Williamstown Theatre Festival two summers ago. “I was hoping to expand my knowledge of how a regional theatre’s Company Management Department functions versus a Summer Stock’s. Not only am I learning this, but I am gaining experience in the Production Management Department as well.”

Apprentice Iliana Figueroa at work behind the scenes.

Apprentice Iliana Figueroa at work behind the scenes.

The Hollywood stereotype of Apprentices existing solely to make coffee runs does not ring true to the program at Hartford Stage. Artistic Apprentice Fiona Kyle has stepped up to the plate two years in a row as Dramaturg for multiple productions, including Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years; A Christmas Carol—A Ghost Story of Christmas; and August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson with more to come this season. Morningstar Education Apprentices Ishaar Gupta and Samantha Reser have been on their own in schools enriching young minds through our popular Connections program. Technical Scenic Apprentice Iliana Figueroa has been assisting in set building since day one. Courtney Kossick, the Costumes Apprentice, says she has “been able to get a taste of everything that the costume shop has to offer.” For The Piano Lesson, Courtney worked as a stitcher and craftsperson and was taught a new skill using an airbrush to distress clothing. This has been her favorite project thus far. Alex MacBeth, Electrics Apprentice, has also had a unique experience during his time at Hartford Stage. “All of the great and delicate work under the deck I have done...I would crawl underneath the floor of the set to wire and plug in LED tape lights,” he explains. “It is tricky due to lack of space, so all movements had to be slow and precise.”

Apprentice Samantha Reser directing a scene with local students.

Apprentice Samantha Reser directing a scene with local students.

It is definitely not all work and no play with this program. Studio Manager Emely Larson has bent over backwards to accommodate our needs, plan special activities, events, and check-in meetings that have enhanced the Apprenticeship from being more than a job, but a holistic experience. Since the start, I have felt the perfect combination of welcomed yet challenged, which makes coming to work [in Marketing] everyday enjoyable...and Apprentice trips to Boston and celebratory brunches haven’t hurt either.

Have a Facebook Page? Log on and ‘LIKE’ the Hartford Stage Apprentices Page to follow our journeys and get a sneak peek into the daily life of a Hartford Stage Apprentice. To learn more about job descriptions of each department in the Apprentice Program at Hartford Stage or to apply, visit https://www.hartfordstage.org/apprenticeships.