While “school’s out for summer,” that doesn’t mean that the learning opportunities stop there—Center Theatre Group’s Education & Community Partnerships have been hard at work providing a number of experiences for students, community members, and staff members alike over the past few months tied to our onstage programming.
The Center Theatre Group Observership Program is a paid opportunity for diverse early-career theatre artists to sit in on a professional rehearsal process at one or more of Center Theatre Group’s three theatres. A Transparent Musical specifically welcomed nonbinary and/or gender nonconforming individuals to their rehearsal room—from the first meet and greet to final tech dress.
“To walk into a room and to not be the only queer [and/or] trans people in the room, but [a part of] the majority, felt so incredible,” Observer Nicole Delsack said. Delsack found that the sense of safety and consent in the rehearsal room was something they wanted to take forward in their own work—sparking an interest in potentially becoming an intimacy coordinator herself.
Creative Workforce Initiatives Director Nico Rosario oversees the program and Teaching Artist Jer Adrianne Lelliott facilitated this particular cohort. But the group often took initiative themselves.
“It was important for [the observers] to have that space fully to discuss things and feel empowered to have the conversations they wanted to have without another person evaluating their response,” Rosario said.
This space was also important to Observer Leví Angel Garcia, who felt that A Transparent Musical would be a historical production. “Knowing that all three of the folks writing the show [and music] were either nonbinary or trans called to me,” they said. “As someone who identifies as nonbinary, it is very hard to find these spaces where I can exist freely.”
The Observership program began as a pilot program in 2020, but experienced interruptions due to the pandemic and resumed with the 2022 production of Alma. The Observership program continued on after A Transparent Musical with Our Dear Dead Drug Lord at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, welcoming six artists into the rehearsal room from first rehearsal through previews and opening night.
Program Manager Aurora Ilog said that this summer is the largest cohort of interns since the program was paused in 2020. In the many years that the internship program has run, Center Theatre Group’s paid interns have gone on to have successful careers in theatre, arts administration, and beyond.
Ilog loves that the program offers “the opportunity to connect interns to professionals who are practicing different arts and crafts and who have different areas of expertise in theatre; to hear they need now to make that step in their career and to make connections [for] long lasting connections.”
Anastasia Ernst spent their summer as an intern in the marketing department under Senior Manager, Marketing Events & Partnerships Kiyomi Emi. Ernst was surprised by how much she learned not just in their day-to-day experience on the job, but in the professional development sessions led by Ilog and other working professionals for the entire cohort of interns.
Ernst grew up attending Center Theatre Group shows for most of her life. Through the internship, they were able to lead a talkback after Into The Woods, work events with celebrities and influencers like opening nights, and learn about the many departments and jobs throughout the company.
“Theatre people are the best people, hands down,” she said. “Getting to work with people who love theatre every day was the best thing ever. The community of all of my coworkers and fellow interns were the best people because they were theatre people.”
From the design, build, and rehearsal stages of Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, there were not only Observers in the room, but Apprentices involved in the process as well. Center Theatre Group welcomed seven paid Apprentices in a variety of disciplines into the Our Dear Dead Drug Lord rehearsal room.
The Center Theatre Group Apprenticeship Program is a paid opportunity for people with no background in professional theatre to get hands-on training in technical production and artistic careers. Apprentices shadow one or more theatre professionals and get the opportunity
to not only sit in on the production process, but also to learn and practice skills necessary to work in these fields. The apprentices focused on many different aspects of theatrical design and production, like scenic; sound; prop and costume design; and directing.
Prop Apprentice Cindy Campos is a student at East Los Angeles College (ELAC) majoring in Theatre Arts, with an emphasis on technical theatre. She worked with the design team for Our Dear Dead Drug Lord for three months on everything from coordinating with prop warehouses to creating props for the show from scratch. Campos actually made the Ouija Board prop—a central piece of the story of the show.
Campos said that this apprentice opportunity to learn from professionals in the industry is incredibly important for her, especially as a woman in technical theatre. “There’s not many of us in history,” she said. “Getting my foot in the door at CTG has helped me tremendously to get into this field.” She was mentored by Kate Reinlib, Eric Babb, and Merrianne Nerdreberg at CTG and learned from ELAC professor, François-Pierre Couture.
While summer is over, this is just the beginning of another season of programming for Education & Community Partnerships at Center Theatre Group. We’ll be sharing even more over the next year as the Community Partnerships program celebrates its tenth anniversary! Stay in touch with Education & Community Partnerships at @ctgcommunity on Instagram.