As I enter the fourth week of my internship at Chicago Shakespeare Theater I am starting to understand more fully how the theatre functions day-to-day. I am also getting to grips with the arts and cultural industry as a whole, for example, learning how fundraising, marketing and education departments work together in such an organisation and how they all benefit each other. More specifically within my job role, I have learnt a lot about theatre administration and the complex processes behind a nationally recognised arts education department that serves tens of thousands of students and teachers each year.
My favourite aspect of the education department is their mission to offer free or heavily discounted opportunities to teachers and students belonging to CPS (Chicago Public Schools). It has been eye-opening to realise how much outside funding is required for their programs. The third week was spent assisting and participating in the annual and free teacher program ‘Bard Core’. Around twenty teachers from different schools attended and the week welcomed a series of guest lecturers from various professions. The primary aim of the program is to help teachers incorporate new theatre, reading and writing strategies while working on texts and topics in the classroom. The collaboration of the teachers that week was the most important part, as they shared ideas and difficulties. They consequently admitted that they were entering the new school year with more confidence. As an intern this experience was rewarding as teaching is a profession I am considering; I learnt how to think like a teacher and about specific teaching practices.
I am continuing to immerse myself in arts and culture, as there are a lot of free opportunities to explore the creative talent Chicago has to offer. One evening I went to a free, high quality classical concert in Millennium Park stadium.
I have also been able to compare the US and UK spoken word scenes at a weekly event called ‘Wordplay’ in my local neighbourhood. This is an interest I developed early on at University and it has been grounding to find my regular interests in a new environment. The event included a string of open-mic poets and a feature act who is one of the five US Young Poet Laureates. The work was of such high standard, and I heard honest and hard stories about the neighbourhood and about the people who told them. The difference between the many similar nights that I had attended in Birmingham and this one was that this weekly event run by Chicago Young Authors served as a social and cultural base for hundreds of young people. People weren’t trying too hard to entertain and that is what made the poetry and hip-hop outstanding.
A final highlight of the past few weeks was simply visiting the beach along Lake Michigan. After two weeks of intensive workshopping and trying to make the most of Chicago, it was the perfect place to relax and forget you were in the city for a few hours.