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Face Time—Praxis Edition


Melissa Stockton-Brown on the job, assisting an actor in the dressing room.

Melissa Stockton-Brown ’10

From: Philadelphia, PA
Major: Theater and (self-designed major) Biblical archaeology
Praxis internship: Literary, educational and arts administration, and casting with Phildelphia Theare Company.

What are your job responsibilities?

My responsibilities vary from week to week and even day to day. An important part of my job is recognizing what needs to be done and then stepping up and doing it. I am often the preliminary filter for a department--reading plays for the next season, sifting through headshots, sitting in on auditions, etc.--and deciding what is worthy of passing on for my supervisor's consideration.

What are your living arrangements?

I live with my mother and sisters.

Describe the physical surroundings where you work.

Again, this varies from day to day. Sometimes I am in a typical office setting, but more often than not I am in a nontraditional work location. Often I am working backstage in the main theater (during their production of Grey Gardens), outside (or maybe at a coffee shop) when we hold meetings that could not comfortably fit in the office, in the studio working on the summer camp, or in a corporate party setting for opening/closing night galas and special events (such as the Literary Managers Association's monthly meeting).

Talk about the people you work with.

I work with different kinds of people depending on the day. Generally I work under the head of the department into which that particular project falls (I work under the heads of education, literary, casting, and production). I also work as a peer with Equity actors and stage management, a few other interns, and alongside the managers of other local theaters during casting sessions.

What is your typical day like?

I don't know that I have a "typical day." If I am in the office or teaching I am usually on the bus by 8 a.m. (dressed in some version of "business casual"--attempting to fit in with the other people in the office who are far more stylish than I am--or jeans and sneakers for teaching). I'll read scripts or pretend to be an elephant all day (in a teaching context, I promise). What I anticipate to be an office day often winds up something very different (getting sent to auditions or to help the dressers during a show). I always try to keep a set of black clothes and some food at the theater because I never know when I will wind up working there for 12 hours straight. Some days I make it home by 5 p.m., other days not until 1 a.m. If there is one thing this job is not lacking, it is variety.

What do you like most about your internship?

What I like most about my internship is PTC's flexibility. They always make sure I am on track with what I want to learn. When I first arrived I wasn't scheduled to work in casting, but with time it became clear to me that this would be a valuable experience. I simply approached the casting director about this and I was scheduled to work in her department by the next day. Also, though few women are in positions of leadership in theater, at PTC most of the managers and department heads are women.

What are you learning from this internship?

I am learning all the little details aboout theater and arts administration that I couldn't pick up in the liberal arts setting: how to run an Equity audition, put together a union versus non-union contract, select and acquire the rights for a season, etc. I will take with me new confidence--confidence that I have both the academic and logistical knowledge to speak with authority.


7/21/09   Compiled by Eric Weld
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