Sound, Lights, Flowers: Perceptions of the Production Intern

November 15, 2010 in Blog by Elizabeth-Mork

Have you even been curious about the technical aspects of a show such as lights, sound, and special effects? We had the opportunity to chat with the current Production Inern, Elizabeth. She tells us all about existing within both the administrative and technical spheres of the production process. Back stage memories, mastering complex technical systems, and compiling invaluable archival records, we learn of the varied responsibilities of the production intern.

Production Intern, Elizabeth, examines her schedule with Walkie Talkie in hand.

Can you tell us about your most memorable moment? There are so many different things that I’m learning that it’s hard to like highlight one thing that stands out above everything else. I was there for all of tech for Candide, which offered a completely different Opening night experience from most of the audience. Knowing that all of the flowers were going to come out, and that most of the audience didn’t know, was exhilarating and nerve-wracking at the same time. It had been kept a secret from most people and I was waiting to see everyone’s reaction with my fingers crossed that it would work. Anticipating the motors and other tech elements, as well as all of the jokes that I already knew, was awesome – and since it was opening night, part of it was just hoping that everything would work properly and then enjoying everyone’s reactions when it did!

What has been a challenge to overcome during your internship? I guess one of my greatest challenges is that I don’t come into this internship with a very strong technical background so that’s something that I definitely had to adjust to with various equipment that is in use. It’s a great learning experience, because I didn’t have this knowledge before and I’m building it.

And, your greatest achievement? I feel as though I’m working with efficiency and getting a lot things accomplished quickly and thoroughly. My To Do list is always changing though. A lot of these are long term projects. I’m archiving shows by converting them from VHS to DVD which isn’t necessarily difficult, but is beneficial for the theatre. They are completely revamping the safety system and, I don’t have a say in how it’s being changed but I’m making it possible by going through all of the safety documents that we have kept. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when it’s all done the Goodman will have one of the most comprehensive theatre safety programs out there, and I will have contributed..

What’s a new skill that you will take away from this internship? All of the data bases that we use are definitely something that I have learned to use. I know how to work the lobby sound system, too. I can set it all up with gaff tape and speakers and microphones, and monitor the sound during an event. If they would have put it all in front of me before, I would have had no idea what to do. My next task is to learn Panorama, which operates like a light-board and runs projections, for A Christmas Carol.

Care to share pros and cons of living in Chicago? I really like Chicago life. Pros. I’ve never lived in a city before, so that’s something that I find very exciting. The first week when I walked out of the office right at 5:00pm, I just saw the street flooded with people. I really liked that. I love the amount of theatre that’s in this city. Everyone’s pretty friendly. I love the restaurants and freedom to go different places and try lots of different things. Cons. I feel like everyone would say the weather, but its been really warm so far! My family is far away. It was a transition getting used to public transportation, but it’s not hard now, and I actually think it’s a great tool.

What are some short and long term goals? In general, I want to learn as much as I can in the short time that I have here. It’s rare to get an opportunity to work at such a high professional and very welcoming environment. The resources that they have here aren’t what they have at most theatres. I want to see all of the workings of a theatre as much as I can. In Production Management, especially, I think it’s very important to understand as much as possible the many elements that are involved in creating a show. I’m trying to shadow different people to learn from other departments as well.

Favorite play that you have seen during the internship thus far: Favorite play that I’ve seen here. Can it be a tie? I really do like Candide a lot – and I have seen it MANY times. I also really enjoyed At Home at the Zoo by Edward Albee produced by Victory Gardens. The post-show discussion was phenomenal and really examined both the piece and the significance of theatre in society.

Do you have any final thoughts about your internship? There’s something about how collaborative Production really is. As a whole, at the Goodman, Production is one department but then within that you divide it up with so many different aspects and each one carries its weight and tries to put on the best show possible.