Highlighting our Youth Apprentice Program

As anyone in theatre knows, it takes a village to put on a production at a professional level, and not all of its members are thought of readily by the audience. This week, we’d like to put a spotlight on some of our lesser known but extremely valuable company members- our Youth Apprentice Interns!

The Youth Apprentice Program (YAP) gives high school and college aged young adults the opportunity to work in the various departments of professional theatre. From box office management to backstage run crew, these yearly groups of interns gain valuable experience through direct hands-on work and mentoring from theatre professionals. While this program is not necessarily unique to CTC, the level of direct interaction and flexibility the YAP program provides has given over 350 students and young adults valuable paid training in professional theatre.

JessFordenJess Forden, a Production Assistant for the 2015 season, sought out the position based off of a recommendation from her Wellseley University major advisor and previous CTC set designer (The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstory: Discord, A Number) David Townlun. Out of all the regional summer opportunities, Jess chose CTC because “I really like that they do contemporary theatre…. I’m more interested in something that supports new artists.”   Jess is interested in a career as a Technical Director or Production Manager and, through working as a Production Assistant, is able to work closely with the set designer and master carpenter.

YAP gave Jess the ability to focus her internship on her specific interests and cater her experience towards her career goals. “Because I had previous Technical Director experience and had mentioned to our Production Manager that I was interested in that field, she (the production manager) decided to help me along that path and give me roles that were similar to what I had done before.”

Jess’s position also puts her in charge of finding or making the props for two of the four shows in the 2015 season. “One of the biggest challenges was balancing the work of both props and production assistant, at the rate at which theatre gets done at CTC. I wasn’t expecting it to be as fast paced as it was.”

In our current show Halcyon Days, Jess faced the challenge of creating breakaway glass that would be shattered by the actors every night. “I didn’t realize I would actually have to make the breakaway glass until the production had already started because I was focused on getting the actors the props that they needed in rehearsals.” The breakaway sugar glass is made by a process of heating sugar, water, and a handful of other ingredients and letting it harden into a clear solid, which turned out to be a learning experience of its own.

“I started practicing and looking up recipes and had to make sure I bought enough ingredients to last me. It takes about a pound of sugar to make a pane of sugar glass, and I’m almost to the bottom of a 25 pound bag. There was a lot of trial and error, but through reading directions and suggestions online, I learned it’s really just one of those things you have to learn by experience.”

While Jess has slowly become a candy-glass connoisseur, she is not the first to gain crucial hands-on experience from YAP.   Every season, a new group of young adults joins CTC for an intensive internship that provides them with opportunities and responsibilities that would not be readily available to them in other professional theatres. While many other theatre apprentice programs join young people and professionals in a working environment, the intimate size of CTC and its commitment to producing small, high-quality pieces allows the interns to work more directly with the productions than in other, larger youth apprentice programs. This level of hands-on experience is unparalleled and absolutely essential to providing our interns with vital theatre training.

If you would like to learn more about YAP or find out how to support the program, click here.