By LAURA HUMBLE – STAFF WRITER
If you are uncertain of what you want to do after graduation, take a look at the life of Robyn Carroll (Centre class of 2014).
Carroll, a former English major, is a Dramaturgy/Literary Management intern at Actors Theatre of Louisville, one of the most prominent regional theatres in the area. She is a member of Actors Theatre’s Apprentice/Intern Company, a program that gives young theatre professionals a taste of what the theatre world is really like.
“[I] had been interested in the internship program for several years by the time I applied,” Carroll said. “Like most internships, the application required a resume, a few letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Since writing and critical analysis [are such large parts] of dramaturgy, the Literary Department also requests a ten-page critical writing sample as part of the application—I definitely spent a lot of time going through the essays I had written over the past few semesters to figure out what to edit and submit.”
All that work paid off when Carroll learned that she had received the internship position in the spring. She would be doing what she loves: working with new plays.
“I’m particularly interested in new plays and new work development—it’s super exciting to see something come to life on stage that might not have existed at all a few years ago,” Carroll said. “Actors Theatre of Louisville is pretty much the place to be for new work: the Humana Festival of New Plays that happens each spring is internationally known for introducing new plays into the larger world of theatre, and other events and festivals throughout the year also feature new and developing work. As a result, the Literary Department is an integral part of the work at Actors Theatre, making it a great place to learn and develop my skills.”
So what exactly does a literary department in a theatre company do?
“As a member of the Apprentice/Intern Company, I work as a dramaturg on a number of pieces that have been devised by members of the Acting Apprentice Company … I collect research that may help to contextualize the world of the play for the actors and audience. I also serve as a primary audience member by tracking the plot and thematic elements throughout in order to ascertain that these aspects will be clear to the audience who eventually watches the piece,” Carroll said.
In addition to the main stage series and the Humana Festival, Actors Theatre’s Apprentice/Intern Company produces and performs their own series of productions, such as Solo Mios and Ensemble pieces.
“I have really enjoyed working on the Apprentice/Intern Company projects … Working as the primary dramaturg on these projects is especially exciting because I have a role in these processes as the pieces develop from the earliest stages of an idea all the way to a staged performance,” Carroll said.
Carroll seems enthralled with her exciting opportunity and there were even some aspects of the internship she did not expect.
“I’ve been surprised by how much responsibility I’ve been able to take on; I’ve had a number of opportunities to work as the primary dramaturg on a piece and to participate in major artistic discussions,” Carroll said.
Carroll credits her education at Centre College for her ability to successfully assume these responsibilities.
“The liberal arts style of education is especially useful when it comes to dramaturgical work, as it allowed me to develop my skills and knowledge in a broad range of subjects,” Carroll said. “As a dramaturg, I often research a number of highly-specific and diverse topics, and my classes at Centre really offered a foundation for this type of study.”
Hopefully, Carroll can transition as smoothly from Actors Theatre into her future dream job.
“Eventually, I want to go to grad school for either playwriting or dramaturgy. I hope to spend the next few years working on my skills in both of these fields and figuring out which I ultimately want to focus my education on,” Carroll said.
As for Centre students now, Carroll has some pieces of advice for finding a position post-graduation.
“Start your search early. A lot of internship applications are due in the spring, and these deadlines often coincide with the most stressful part of the semester. Prepping your materials early on and keeping a close eye on deadlines will help you submit strong applications,” Carroll said.
“Also, do your homework when it comes to interviews. Researching the company closely and coming up with practice questions and answers will make it easier to remain calm and thoughtful during the interview itself.”
If anyone is interested in checking out Carroll’s work, visit Actors Theatre, located in Louisville, Ky., this fall.
Information about the Apprentice/Intern Company’s productions or mainstage shows can be found at actorstheatre.org.