Here at Endstation, an enormous component of our work every year is mentoring and teaching college students who travel many miles in order to work for the company and who get to study with Endstation’s professional theatre artists, managers, designers, and technicians. Every year, our apprentices build scenery, assist with the box office, paint flats, design properties, pull costumes, stage manage shows, and focus lighting equipment. These young men and women are an integral and beloved part of Endstation’s work. This year, we want to make sure our audiences get to know our apprentices even more usual by showcasing them and their stories through the Endstation blog. We have six different apprenticeships, and so we will be posting a discussion with each group of apprentices over the coming weeks. We hope you like them as much as we do, and if you see one of them at a show, go up and say hello!
Aaron: Hi guys, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and where you’re from?
Luis: Well, I’m from Kissimmee, Florida but I’m currently attending Stetson University in DeLand, Florida; that’s almost 2 hours north from my hometown. I heard about Endstation from my tech teacher Krista Franco, one of the founders of the company. She would always talk about the amazing things that occur in the company during my tech classes, so I decided to apply for the company so that I, too, could experience how it feels to work for a family-like-atmosphere company. With Krista’s advice on how to make my résumé and portfolio, there’s only one person I would like to give a shout-out to and it’s her.
Meredith: My Name is Meredith Zotkiewicz and I grew up in the city of New Orleans. The city itself flourishes with the arts, music, and theater. At the same time, my family also has a huge passion for supporting the arts, which factors into the inspiration aspect of my life. I heard about Endstation by stumbling across the website online. I had no connections to the company prior. The more I read about Endstation and learned who they were as a company I just knew that this was the right choice. I would love to give a shout-out to my teachers at Samford University: Mark Castle, Dr. Don Sandley, Eric Olsen, and Larry Thompson, all of who have guided me to be where I am today.
Oscar: Well, my full name with prefix is William Everett Kyle Richardson (I choose to go by Oscar), and I am from the beautiful state of Kansas. I currently reside in Baldwin City, where I went to school, with my fluffy orange cat Boris Badinoff. I attended school at Baker University… GO WILDCATS… Where I studied a plethora of subjects including history, psychology, music, theatre, and business. I heard about Endstation when I was surfing the web and saw a post looking for scenic carpentry apprentices.
From left to right: Luis, Meredith, Oscar
Aaron: How did you each get started in the theatre, and why did you choose scenic carpentry as a field of interest?
Meredith: I honestly never imagined myself being in the theatre. I admit, growing up, I was one of those hardcore doodlers; still am today. I loved the idea of being creative and I was always drawing something new. I had seen my fair share of performances and was always amazed by the theatre, however it did not occur to me that the scenery had to be built. I just knew that the only spotlight in which I would be seen was in my dreams not the stage. It wasn’t until I took a theatre appreciation class with Mark Castle my sophomore year in college. He saw one of my costume drawings and asked if I would be interested in doing some production work. I love trying new things, especially in the arts, so I tried it and fell in love. That next semester, I declared a minor in theatre. I stuck with it for a few months and started to doubt my decision, but then I was given the opportunity to meet Hilary Vernon-Smith, the Head Scenic Designer at the National Theatre in London and she said “it is our job to make anything possible”. It was a simple phrase, but I knew right there that I had made the right choice.
Oscar: Many, many years ago in the far off land of Kansas (1,100 miles or so) there was a young music educator who could no longer see himself teaching music to the masses, and when the going got tough, he turned to the one thing that he could do and just lose himself in the doing: scenic carpentry, the building and realization of the sets for theatre. As he learned more and more about the technique and delicate crafting required to realize such beauty, he fell in love with it. That former young educator is, of course, me, and I have been crafting ever since.
Luis: Funny story. I actually got started in theatre in 7th grade. At the time I was taking a TV Production class because I love making films. One day, my teacher came up to me and asked me if I wanted to be a part of his tech crew for the school’s production of The Little Prince. I accepted his offer, not knowing what I was getting into. I didn’t know much about theatre; I was more of a film guy! I remember the first day I had to stay after school and feeling so lost building our set. I had no experience in carpentry and even lighting when I was assigned to be light board operator. Throughout the process I fell in love with theatre because of how everyone works together as a team that at one point it felt like I had a second family. Because of that show, I became so obsessed with technical theatre that I even went to an art school for my four years of high school and am now a Theatre Arts major at Stetson University.
Aaron: Do you have a favorite show you’ve worked on?
Oscar: In the years since carpentry became my passion, I believe I have worked on shows from every aspect of theatre and have learned a great deal about what it takes to stir the hearts and minds of the masses. One season I worked on, called the season of self-realization, was particularly educational, we worked on shows such as God’s Favorite, New York (9/11), and What the Butler Saw. All of these shows, designed/directed by the tag team duo of Mr. and Mrs. Tom and Patti Heiman, were a blast to work on and in hindsight taught me a great deal about everything that it takes to create our art. From inception, to production, to performance it was a great experience and another reason for me to love the world of theatre.
Luis: If there was one show I had to choose as my favorite, it has to be Almost, Maine by John Cariani. I did that show my sophomore year of high school and it was the first time I had the position as technical director for a show. The reason why they let me have such a big role in this show was because in the drama department, there’s a directing class every senior has to take where they have to direct a full production and present it in our black box. I was asked by the director of Almost, Maine to design not only a set but also lights for the show. I really enjoyed it because it was the first time I had the freedom to create anything that I wanted for a show which allowed for me to have so much fun.
Meredith: My favorite show that I worked on was The Wizard of Oz because we made it a steampunk theme.
Aaron: What has it been like working at Endstation so far?
Meredith: I am truly blessed to be a part of the Endstation team, considering the fact that I have only been working in the theatre department for a year. I have had so many experiences and made so many connections without it being a full week yet. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for I am just at the beginning of this journey. This is the best decision I have made thus far in my life.
Luis: Working for Endstation is a blast! I’ve only been here for not even a week and I feel so close to all the apprentices and staff members. We are one big family which is what I love so much about this company. We all have fun while we work (and also when we don’t) that there hasn’t been a time when I felt bored. I chose Endstation because of that and also because of all the knowledge I’m going to learn from the carpentry department, that I made the right decision in coming to Endstation! Plus the area is beautiful!
Oscar: Down to the nitty-gritty: Endstation, home to some amazing individuals and a company full of lively persons, especially Krista Franco, Aaron Thomas, and Ken Hopkins, who have made this experience in the first week or so a truly eventful and wonderful experience. Endstation is a great company and in the future I hope (and it will) that it remains a wonderful company where young theatre men and woman can come to learn more about the trade that we love so much.
Aaron: Tell us about one of your favorite things to do.
Luis: Well I’m a sucker for movies! I’m one hardcore film lover! From Hitchcock’s Rear Window to Nolan’s The Dark Knight, I have a large variety of movies in my DVD collection that I love re-watching from time to time. I can go for days talking about any movie and don’t even get me started with television series because I’m obsessed with those too! My favorite series to watch are How I Met Your Mother, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, 30 Rock, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sherlock, and Bob’s Burger.
Oscar: My favorite things to do are screenwriting, daydreaming, spending time with the Queen of my Heart Krystal, and watching/analyzing movies. I am the most outspoken, charismatic, slightly conceited hermit you will ever meet and I choose to live my life as a mystery and as full and experienced as I can (like skydiving).
Meredith: One of my favorite things to do is discovering new opportunities to learn and push my boundaries artistically. The world is my canvas and I have only begun to explore.
Aaron: Thanks, crew. This was perfect.
Aaron C. Thomas has been the Resident Dramaturg at Endstation Theatre since 2010. He is also a contributing scholar for the Brooklyn-based American Laboratory and will be working in the Department of Theater at Dartmouth College. You can connect with him via Twitter, Facebook, or his blog Tea to Pour.