School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA) Professional Development Coordinator, Chelsea Hunter, sat down with Daniel Arnold and Marisa Emma Smith from the Vancouver-based Alley Theatre to find out more about the company, their interest in working with students and their sage advice for emerging artists.
Tell us about Alley Theatre and the company’s philosophy in working with students.
Alley Theatre was founded in 2008 and we produce mostly new Canadian plays. We believe that non-traditional staging such as site-specific and created-space work not only enlivens theatrical experience but also attracts a new theatre-going audience, which is a primary goal of our company. We choose to work with students for so many reasons. Most students are young and young people are the future! We can learn as much from them as they can from us. We also love the forward-thinking, outside-the-box energy that youth can have, the ability to be open to experimentation and new ideas. Being a student allows people to have the freedom to fail and we love that kind of energy.
From your professional experience, how do you see these internships as being beneficial to students?
Well, the classroom can only teach so much—it can’t really replace the experience of working in the professional world. Doing an internship with a professional company gives students a leg-up when it comes to landing paid gigs after school, which is a crucial time in one’s career. Also during an internship, students would be learning from veteran professionals in the industry—which is invaluable for education. Artistic Producer, Marisa Emma Smith was an intern with Neworld Theatre early in her career and years later she ended up on staff there and she is now directing her second associate production with Neworld. So you can never underestimate the connections you make in these kinds of work experiences.
Can you tell us about the internship positions you have open to SFU students and how they fit within the company?
For our upcoming production, we have three internships available to students. The first two (for summer and fall) are for a Community Coordinator Assistant and would be ideal for students interested in the bridges between art and community. Community Coordination will involve connecting with various community groups and organizations about their involvement in this professional theatre production, managing schedules, and outreach to community groups and audiences. The third internship (for fall) is for Running Crew during our production, which involves the smooth backstage running of the show—which will have about 45 people on stage and use the entire space of the Annex Theatre. Each intern would work closely with their superior (Community Coordinator, Stage Manager, Production Manager) as well as with the company’s Artistic Producers and the project’s director.
Do you have any advice for emerging artists?
Apply for everything you can! Be open to all new experiences! Follow what you’re passionate about and pursue it, and don’t limit your thinking about what you can or cannot do. Take any opportunities that are offered to you because you never know what else they’ll lead to. Securing a career in the arts can be difficult, but extremely valuable and noble (and fun!) and the ‘real world’ rewards emerging artists who are keen, eager, and determined. A life in the arts is a reward in and of itself.
Beyond the Blog
Interships through the School for the Contemporary Arts offer meaningful career-related experience within your artistic discipline and give you credits towards your degree. Contact Chelsea for more info or to arrange an internship.