The summer that validated my existence…
By Kimberlin Torain
(Photo credit to Paul Fox. Top row from L to R: Rob, Liz, Zach, Becca, Will. Bottom row from L to Right: Anna, Nate, Kimberlin)
As a company management intern, my job consisted of keeping the festival staff, interns, apprentices, and talent happy. On a day-to-day basis, I drove back and forth to the airport and train station to transport artists and if it weren’t my turn to pick them up, myself and the rest of the team would rush to the actor housing to clean it up because the next artist was on their way to take that spot. The Company Management office, CoMo as we call it, consisted of one awesome Company Manager, Zach Krohn, an associate, Becca Trimbur, an assistant, Anna Rhoads, and 5 interns, myself, Liz, Rob, Nate, and Will. Averaging 11 hour days, 7 days a week, in the beginning, I wondered seriously why anyone ever decided that summer stock theatre was fun. A few weeks in I realized it’s because summer stock is pretty much a summer camp for adults.
If any of you have ever spent a summer in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, you would completely understand why, year after year, hundreds of people migrate in order to enjoy the nice weather, great food, and arts of the area. It amazes me how the sun has the ability to shine here even in the middle of a rainstorm and how no matter how many hours a project takes, it will get done because everyone here loves what they do so much. I finally found a cafe that knows the perfect proportions for a cappuccino at Tunnel City, and ice cream on par with Howling Cow at Lickety Split. It seems impossible to not to enjoy life when you are living here- though it would have been nice to have had air conditioning on those nights when it was 90 degrees outside. That was one of the many things I missed about being home in NC. Having been born and raised in NC and staying in state for school, this was my first summer away from home. I missed my parents, I missed my friends, I missed having my own kitchen to cook in. The good news is, Williamstown kept me so busy, I didn’t have much time to think about missing home so much.
One of the most notable parts of the Williamstown experiences is all of the famous people I met. The number of Academy Awards, Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, Drama Desk Awards, etc. that walk around Williamstown in the summer is incredible. I am beyond honored that they even learned my name because I have accomplished so little in comparison. I will say, that of all of the people I’ve ever met, Academy Award- Winner Estelle Parsons says my name with by far the most enthusiasm. Likewise, the kind soul and energy of up and coming writer, Joe Tracz is a delight to be around and I am thrilled that I can call both of them friends. I think that because this is a blog about theatre, I would be crucified if I didn’t mention getting to meet Queen Audra McDonald, who starred in a show with her husband Will Swenson, and long-time favorite of mine, Glynn Turman. The cool thing is, when you’re young, you look at a tv show or a movie and fall in love with someone’s art. You decide to pursue arts full-time because whomever this person was inspired you to do so. Williamstown allowed me to be in the room with some of these people. As a kid, I watched JD’s Revenge, and have always been afraid of meat freezers because of Glynn Turman. I watched Cynthia Nixon date Blair Underwood on Sex and the City and cried when they broke up, only to realize that they are still friends in real life and she is one of the reasons he came this summer. It was all so much to take in. I am now zero degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon and it is amazing to me that this is my life. That an ordinary girl like me, who goes to a school that only cares about STEM fields got the opportunity to meet people that I have looked up to and been inspired by my entire life. There are nights when I lie in bed and think about how lucky I am, and how possibly I could go up from here.
Even more important than the famous people I got to meet are the ones who aren’t famous yet. Part of what makes theatre so much fun is the relationships that I got to build with other interns and staff members. Cynthia Nixon and Blair Underwood weren’t always who they are now. In twenty years, some college student may be writing a blog similar to this one, about myself and one of the cool people I got to meet this summer. Even better than that is I am expanding my network, because everyone knows everyone in this business. Just the other day, I was wishing good luck to a friend of mine from NC Theatre who is starting college in NYC. It just so happens that she is the little sister of Celina’s (a stage management intern from Williamstown) mentor. How cool is it that another stage management intern, Devin, is friends with Stephen Frausto, who works for NC State’s University Theatre.
I’m not quite sure there is a place like Williamstown. Every moment of every day required preparation for with little room for error. Between all of the shows and special events, there were over 30 shows this summer, each with their own cast, designers, and personality. I was continually amazed at the amount of effort and attention to detail each show received. The scene shop even built a set for our 4th of July cookout. It all seems silly at first, but later I realized that it’s all part of the experience. It’s all a part of getting us more experience. When I am back at SETC next year, and interviewing for jobs, I am so excited about having things to say, because I finally have real experience.
I would be lying to myself if I didn’t say how hard this summer was for me. There were days that I cried in the basement of our office space as I was down there counting linens. I was ran over with a queen boxspring by the Rent-A-Center guys and, 6 weeks later, I am still waiting for the bruise to go away. However, I don’t think that my sense of longing to be back home in Williamstown will ever go away. I am exhausted beyond human belief, which is reasonable after working 80 hour weeks for almost 3 months straight. More than that, I am so pumped for my future. I went to Williamstown because I wasn’t so sure that I had a future in the arts. I didn’t know if wanting to work in the arts forever was even a possibility for me. I now know that it is, and that I am capable of living a great life. I don’t need to be rich in money if I can love my career as much as I loved my summer at Williamstown. I’m still not 100% sure what my career might look like, but I know that I will have one. I owe all of my love and confidence to Williamstown Theatre Festival. I am so excited to watch as I and all of my new friends continue to grow. Williamstown Theatre Festival is very well-known and very respected among theatre practitioners and audiences alike. The amount of talent that has come through these doors is overwhelming to say the least and I feel even more empowered to live the life I want to live. I am incredibly humbled by my experiences. Thank you, Williamstown .