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The Intern Files: My First Day as a Goodman Intern, Part 2

July 2, 2013 in Blog

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.

Where all the magic happens: the intern closet.

Where all the magic happens: the intern closet.

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.”

And finally:

“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.

Robert Falls

 

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.

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The Intern Files: My First Day as a Goodman Intern, Part 1

June 27, 2013 in Blog

By Kendra Benner

All my life I’ve been told it’s important to have a dream job.

What’s mine? I have so many interests – theater, journalism, education, entrepreneurship – I’ve never been able to pick just one job.

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Contemplating a future in journalism circa 1999.

My dream was more about where I was working than what I was doing. For me, in my teenage years and in college, my dream was to work at Goodman Theatre.

I think the special culture of the Goodman is infectious – once you experience it, you want to keep coming back for more. I got my first taste when I was seventeen. I was part of Cindy Bandle Young Critics, a program for Chicagoland girls where I learned how to write reviews of plays and improve my reporting skills – a perfect combination of my beloveds, theatre and journalism. Every other Saturday morning I trekked to the Goodman for the program workshops, excited to find out what amazing actor, director or writer I would get to interview next.

Fast forward two years. I entered my freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a precarious university choice for a staunch northerner. A lot of people were surprised by my choice to go to school in that foreign land (also known as the South). But, I think it makes sense in light of the story behind it – a story that was written by the Goodman.

One of my most memorable moments as a Young Critic at the Goodman was hearing Brian Dennehy speak about his career in theater. He told us that to be successful theater artists, we had to continuously step outside of the theatre world. He said the key to becoming a great person of the theatre is being a great person of the world – study subjects you’ve never explored before, meet people from all corners of the Earth, and jump into all colors of experiences.

His words simmered in my mind for months. When the time came to choose between UNC and a university closer to home, I thought of Mr. Dennehy’s advice. Great thespians jump into the unknown, and “The Southern Part of Heaven” was definitely an unknown. It was a scary prospect, but when I thought of Mr. Dennehy’s words, the risk felt right – and my decision to don light blue and white was official.

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Posing at halftime during my first UNC football game.

As my decision to be a Tar Heel was set in stone, so was my dream to work at the Goodman. My love for risk-taking, my taste for live performance, and my passion for theater as an avenue for social change – so many things about me were shaped by this theater. I wanted to use my passions to give back to the organization – and discover how much more there is to learn at Goodman.

For three years my dream lingered in my mind, until the moment in early February when I told my Dad, “I have to be a Goodman intern.”

I dove into the application process. The Goodman had many different internships to choose from, but I set my sights on the Education & Community Engagement internship. Theater has been a special teacher in my life, and I wanted others to experience that, too. I admired the Education department’s belief in using theater for social change through its educational programs – like showing high school students students the power of their creative voices in the General Theater Studies summer program. This was definitely a movement I wanted to be a part of.

Three months, seven resume drafts, two interviews and one overjoyed “I got it!” phone call to my parents later, and my dream had come true.

Enter, the first day of my internship. I felt excited and prepared – and I tried to walk with the post-makeover professional confidence of Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada.

 one time an assistant left the desk because she i dont k - Andy Sachs

 There were five minutes until I had to leave for the train station. I started to pack up my bag when I realized – there was no packing list for internships. What kind of stuff was I supposed to bring? I didn’t want to be the awkward-exploding-backpack kid on the first day, but not having enough supplies would be embarrassing.

Commence frantic Googleing. An article from “InternQueen.com” popped up. That sounded legit. I shoved everything in my bag that the article listed – a notebook, five pens, makeup, hairpins, socks, comfy shoes, an umbrella, train schedule, mints, cell phone, laptop, pony tail holders, my Goodman ID and a train pass.

Me, overpack? Never.

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Striking a pose at the most happening place in Naperville, the train station.

Next stop: Union Station. I hopped on the train and surveyed the people who surrounded me – businesspeople – iPhone in hand, shiny shoes on foot. Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Naperville anymore. That was until…I sat on the train directly across from a girl from my high school. “Hey, Kendra! How’s school going?” she said cheerily, breaking my cover as a classy urban professional. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.

As I stepped out of Union Station, bombarded by the sun’s reflection off the Chicago River below and towering skyscrapers above, I was completely taken with the city’s beauty. Wearing the glassy-eyed gaze of a first-time tourist, I didn’t care. My dream was finally coming true, and I felt like the city knew it and was welcoming me in as one of its own.

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Cue George Harrison…this sunshine is beautiful!

My dad and I made the 20-minute walk from the train station to the Goodman, and from the first to the last step, he jokingly tried to pump me up for my first day on the job.

“Hey, Kendra,” he said with a smirk. “Wouldn’t it be cool if, like, you were interning at the Goodman or somethi— Oh, wait. You are!”

I laughed. “Yeah, you’re right Dad. It is pretty cool,” I said, trying not to make a scene in case one of my soon-to-be coworkers was near me. But on the inside, I was bubbling with excitement.

Check out the second installment, coming next week!