Students explore theater in Connecticut, rural communities
August 12, 2010 By Marla Sweitzer
Nicaragua, as the volunteer supervisor for Amigos de las
Sam Yates (far left) is spending his summer working as a member
of the literary staff (also pictured) at the Eugene O’Neill Theater
Whether they are traveling, volunteering, making some extra cash or a combination of the three, Centre College students make good use of their time in the summer. This is also the season when students take the opportunity to conduct research or complete internships.
Youth and Media in Nicaragua
Amelia George ’13 of Boston is spending her summer in Boaco, Nicaragua, where she is the volunteer supervisor for Amigos de las Americas.
“I work on a staff of nine people, and we plan activities together such as youth workshops focusing on media and children’s rights,” George says. “I’m getting experience in working for a non-profit organization and have been strongly involved in relations with our partnering agency, PLAN Nicaragua.”
George spends a lot of time traveling throughout the rural communities. Each Monday, she heads out on a “route” that includes four communities, where she checks in and tracks the progress of the volunteers, youth and host families.
“These volunteers have organized youth multimedia groups in their communities alongside youth counterparts from the communities,” George says. “They’re also working in elementary schools to do workshops on the rights of children. In each community, we’re also doing a small Community Based Initiative, such as reparations to wells or putting in latrines at the schools.”
George was awarded a scholarship during her junior year of high school to volunteer with the organization in Paraguay. “I had asked for this placement because I really wanted to do community service in a Spanish speaking country,” she says.
George plans to major in international studies with a concentration in development. “I’m not sure exactly what my intended career is, but I hope to be working with children and youth in developing countries and poorer areas of the United States,” she says.
While the internship itself is unpaid, George is receiving funding from the Centre Internship Plus program, which allows students to apply for exciting, high-quality internship experiences—some of which are for academic credit—with extra financial support. Students whose internships are approved receive up to $1,500 to help with expenses.
“This internship is giving me hands on experience on how youth groups work in communities, how media impacts communities—specifically youth and children—and also gives me the ability to see how leadership opportunities given to youth can really make a difference,” she says.
Literature and Theater in Connecticut
Sam Yates ’11 of Newburgh, Ind., is working as an assistant dramaturg (writer or adapter of plays) and literary representative for the literary department of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn. Like George, Yates is receiving a stipend from the Centre Internship Plus program for the internship.
“I’m working closely with the playwrights and companies of a new musical, two new plays, and in-development cabaret pieces, tracking script changes, doing the editing and continuity work, dramaturgical research and participating in creative conversations that help shape an evolving piece of theater,” Yates says.
The O’Neill has developed a number of award winning plays, including August Wilson’s Fences, and musicals like Avenue Q and In the Heights. “It’s essentially a summer haven on Connecticut’s coast for theater artists,” Yates says. “I was drawn to the O'Neill for the same reason everyone else is: the chance to experience the provocative work and collaborate with talented, like-minded artists.”
He applied for the internship through the South Eastern Theater Conference, which Centre sends its dramatic arts majors to every spring.
“My job at the O’Neill allows me to specifically focus on the act of creation and what goes into the development of a new work,” Yates says. “Though my participation will undoubtedly help as I move on to do dramaturgical research on graduate and professional levels, it has a more immediate impact for the upcoming year, as I’m writing a play adaptation of a book for my John C. Young project.”
(The John C. Young Scholars program is designed to serve strong, highly motivated senior students allowing them to engage in independent study, research, or artistic work in their major discipline or in an interdisciplinary area of their choosing. Each Scholar works with a faculty member who serves as his or her project director collaborates with him or her in designing the program.)
In addition to exposure to and the opportunity to participate in a variety of new works, working at the O’Neill has provided an ideal networking environment for the budding dramatist.
“I’ve eaten breakfast and discussed rehearsals with original cast members from Rent, shared my rehearsal-room table with a highly sought after musical composer and worked under a director who’s helming the upcoming revival of Godspell,” Yates says. “And that’s only been on my first show.”