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. The stage management apprentices, Katie and Drew, work directly with the directors of this season’s shows and maintain the artistic integrity of the show each and every night, long after the director’s work is done. Let’s hear it for the stage managers!
Katie: I currently attend Florida State University so hearing about Endstation Theatre Company just comes with the territory. Every summer when students are looking for a great summer-stock theatre, you look to Endstation first. FSU alumni founded the theatre and many of my friends have been apprentices in the past and loved their experience. What more could you really look for than outdoor theatre in the beautiful Virginia mountains? I was immediately hooked as soon as I heard about them.
Drew: I’m from Bowie, Maryland and I attend Stetson University in Deland, Florida. I first heard about Endstation from Krista Franco when she was in the midst of the candidate process to join the theatre faculty at Stetson. During her portfolio presentation, she showed production photos of Endstation’s Twelfth Night and described the amazing work that Endstation puts on each summer. From that moment, I knew I wanted to get involved with Endstation in some capacity. Last summer, a friend and I visited Cassie Kris, when she was working with the company as a scenic artist apprentice, and I was able to experience a taste of what life was at Endstation. Eventually, Krista began teaching at Stetson and she encouraged me to apply to Endstation as an apprentice and now I’m here helping to create and facilitate great theatrical experiences for our patrons.
Any teachers at your school that we should give a shout-out to?
Katie: I’ve been lucky to have many teachers who have guide my path. George McConnell wrote me a wonderful letter of recommendation so I should really start with him. George is someone I really admire for the work he’s brought to FSU. And in my first year of college, Christopher Brazelton really ushered me into theatre management. He taught me so much in such a short period of time and I will always be thankful for knowing him. But in regards to stage management, the person to whom I really owe most everything is Siobhán Ruane. She really refined my work and made me a better stage manager this year. I’m very grateful for her impact and am lucky to consider her a friend as well as a mentor.
How did you fall in love with in the theatre?
Drew: Theatre has always been a part of my life. My parents have always supported the arts and believed that it was important for their children to explore different artistic media. I remember my parents taking advantage of all of the great theatre that was available in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. They would take my brother and sister and me to see the touring Broadway productions at the Kennedy Center or take us up to New York City to spend our spring breaks from school exploring the city and seeing Broadway shows.
Katie: I don’t know if I could pinpoint a specific moment where I fell head over heels into theatre. I think it’s a slow process – a progression of staying in the theatre until 2 am to work some nights or inviting your friends over to watch a movie and finding yourself suddenly in a production meeting discussing the lighting design – where you realize you’re probably in this for the long haul and you’re in love. Pretty much how you fall in love with a person.
But surely you both started as performers, right?
Katie: I think it’s a rule that most people that have wildly curly hair and a lot of energy are probably put in some kind of performance camp as a child, so that’s exactly what my parents did. I was a performer for a very long time up until college when, as a favor, I stage-managed my first show, Black Comedy written by Peter Shaffer. I gained a lot of experience and confidence through that process and met some wonderful people.
Drew: Personally, I first got started in theatre in the 3rd grade when I acted in a local church production of The People Garden. Since then, I had been primarily acting in local community musicals. I continued acting when I arrived at Stetson but began to explore different opportunities in theatre. When I was a sophomore in college, I stage-managed a student-directed production of Dracula and I knew I found something I could see myself doing in the future. After working on that show, I have been pursuing acting, stage management and, recently, directing.
What do you do for fun? I would ask what you do when you’re not doing theatre, but I expect you spend most of your “fun” time doing theatre-related activities as well.
Katie: I really love to travel! Fall semester of 2013 I traveled abroad to London and spent 4 months working at a fashion public relations company. I got to work on London Fashion Week projects. I was in Barcelona, Spain for my 21st birthday and got to lay on the beach in La Barceloneta. I lived five minutes from the West End in London, so I got to see a lot of theatre while I was there.
Drew: I’ll be the first to admit that I am a TV and musical theatre nut. If I’m not obsessing over what happened to Olivia Pope on the latest episode of Scandal or rewatching The Golden Girls for the 500th time with Cassie Kris, then I’m probably ranting on about how fantastic Sydney Lucas is on the Fun Home cast album or playing “The Hill” from the Once original broadway cast recording over and over again. It’s a problem, I know.
Katie: Actually, when I saw Once in London, I introduced myself to the stage manager. She invited me to come back, sit backstage, and watch her call the show. It was such an amazing experience!
Do you have a favorite show you’ve worked on?
Drew: At Stetson, I got the opportunity to play Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It was always of dream of mine to play Leaf because how I much I relate to the character. I loved being able to explore Leaf’s silly quirks and emotional depth and have the opportunity to share him with audiences every night.
Katie: I always cite this as my favorite show simply because of the people I was surrounded by and the work we were doing. I worked on a devised theatre piece at FSU my sophomore year. The director, Matt Silva, and I had worked together previously and I will always feel like it’s a privilege to have worked with him. The piece was originally shaped by Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, but it turned into this amazing work with actors wearing school desks and dances. Beside the work itself, it was so fun to call the show. There was a dance with different sound cues every 3-5 seconds, and I remember working very hard to make sure the timing came out exactly right.
Drew: I’m going to be selfish and talk about two of my favorite shows that I’ve worked on. One of my favorite shows that I have stage- managed was this past semester at Stetson when I worked their production of Caryl Churchill’s Vinegar Tom. It was one of the most collaborative productions I have ever been a part of and it was such a joy to work with a great creative team and cast.
What has it been like working at Endstation so far?
Katie: Working with Endstation Theatre Company has been amazing. The staff here is so welcoming and inviting. The shows being produced this season are incredibly diverse, which makes a great learning experience for apprentices. I’m currently working on Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, a very well-known play, and an entirely new work written for Sweet Briar College’s campus, In Sweet Remembrance. It’s lovely when a company can be so devoted to making good work for their audiences and encouraging their apprentices to try new things and learn as they work.
Drew: My experience working at Endstation so far has been incredible. I’ve been itching to work with a professional theatre company for some time now and Endstation has been everything I have ever dreamed of in a theatre company. Everyone here is so friendly and welcoming. I admire their commitment to the work that we are trying to do this summer. It’s just wonderful to be a part of this company.
Thanks, guys! You two are a delight.
A big thank-you to our Assistant Production Manager Cassie Kris for the truly awesome photos. According to Cassie, “The amount of planning Drew and Katie went through to coordinate outfits and figure out poses was ridiculous… but not shocking.”
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, Instagram, or his blog Tea to Pour.