2012 Great River
When I first received my phone
call from Doug Scholz-Carlson, Great River Shakespeare Festival Associate Producing Director, inviting me to be part of the 2012 Apprentice Program, I had no idea just how fortunate I was! Having spent my fall semester in London studying at Shakespeareís Globe Theatre, by April I was eager to dive back into the world of scansion and sonnets.
The rumors of the Great River Shakespeare Festivalís incredible talent and hospitality had reached to even my small liberal arts college in Decatur, Illinois. However, to what level this company exceeded in all aspects was far beyond my expectations. After meeting both Producing Director Paul Barnes and Doug Scholz-Carlson in late March at Unified Auditions in Saint Louis, I knew that Iíd been given a rare opportunity to experience a company that thrives in both its work and community.
And from the moment I made my way to the beautiful bluffs of Winona, I knew that I had found something incredible. In the theatre world, the idea of an Ďartistic homeí is one that is most coveted and longed after. To work with a group of people who both love and nurture, as well as desire the same outcome, to collaborate in the creation of a piece of theatre that can both teach and inspire, is a rare gift.
Itís a huge understatement to say that both the group of my fellow fifteen apprentices as well as the entire Great River Shakespeare Festival company are the most selfless people I have ever encountered. This company truly operates as a family. Itís made up of individuals of all different styles and types, different dreams and desires, but who are unified by a burning passion to bring to life the words of one of our greatest playwrights and to use these texts to give back to the community around them.
I canít begin to count how many times all of us in the apprentice program shake our heads in disbelief, saying, ďI canít believe this is our life for the summer. How did we get so lucky?Ē Between hiking Sugar Loaf and group kayaking Ė having all the beauties of Winona offered to us to explore Ė and the giving nature of every person in this community only strengthens our purpose and drives our mission further. In my twenty-one years of life, I can safely say Iíve never found a place that feels so like home, a group that feels so like family, and a place in which I have felt so encouraged, inspired, and free to explore and develop the craft which Iíve chosen to help shape my life.
In my short time here, Iím already at a loss to understand how I will ever be able to leave this place, for it is truly the kind of company and creative experience that all artists dream of; to find a place where you can breathe in the safety of your own skin and explore the things that make your soul sing. Iím very grateful to have found a company and a place that pushes me to grow, nurtures my craft, and continually builds a life from what they give. I look forward to the relationships I will strengthen, the ways in which I will grow, and the art that we will create together.