July 2, 2013 by Goodman Education
By Kendra Benner
I stepped in the theater, and a smiling security guard greeted me. He handed me a guest pass, and I rode up the elevator to the fourth floor, the Education & Community Engagement department’s home.
When I pictured business offices, I had always imagined something from, well, The Office. Drably dressed employees, a curmudgeonly boss, and empty white walls. But the Goodman’s offices were far from ordinary. I saw employees smiling and laughing, there was a woman wearing aqua blue skinny jeans, and the walls were lined with autographed posters from productions past – including a poster from A Christmas Carol featuring a jolly Scrooge. I knew I had chosen the right place.
I met the outgoing Education interns who would teach me everything I needed to know. We entered the narrow room where the interns were housed, which they dubbed “The Intern Closet.” I didn’t know if I was supposed to laugh or not, so out of my mouth emerged a half-hearted nervous giggle.
I was tasked with learning the ropes of my job in the next eight hours. And what ensued was a whirlwind of crash courses.
“Do you know how to Mail Merge?”
“Okay, I just finished updating the manual. You should probably start reading it.” [Commence reading 100-page binder]
“Have you heard of Tessitura?”
“So we’ll be in Little Village the 18th, Humboldt Park the 22nd, Rogers Park the 25th, and Pilsen the 29th.”
“Okay, so to access the program, you enter this password every time, then you look at the keychain, then you enter that password that pops up, and then you’re in.”
“Oh! Today we’re having the Bob Forum.”
“What’s the Bob Forum?” I asked. It sounded important.
“All the interns get to sit down with Bob Falls and we basically can ask him whatever we want.”
Um — pause. Bob Falls. As in Robert Falls? As in the artistic director of the Goodman? On the first day of my internship I was meeting the commander-in-chief of the theatre. I wasn’t sure if this was a fluke or divine intervention.
I racked my brain for things I wanted to know: What is the process of commissioning a play? What is your approach to directing? How do you feel about theater critics? I had all of my questions ready to go, but once I got in there, I simply wanted to listen. I listened to Bob talk about his childhood in a small town in Illinois, his directing experience in college, his love for the Chicago theatre scene, his path to the Goodman, and his more than twenty-five years spent as artistic director here, putting on new plays and re-imagining classic ones.
Between all of the anecdotes and nuggets of wisdom, I really heard one message – one that I’d heard before from Mr. Dennehy. As an artist, you simply have to go for it. Try anything. Explore everything. Move to the other side of the country. Fly across the ocean to Africa. Befriend people you have nothing in coming with. Apply to an internship you think you have no chance of getting.
Because there’s nothing worse than questioning what would have happened if you had gone for it – and there’s nothing better than knowing the answer.