Players Pen – September 7

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines internship as “a period of time spent receiving or completing training at a job as a part of becoming qualified to do it.”

Each season 10 college students focusing in theater arts participate in the Peninsula Players Internship Program.  They are selected through an application and interview process to work alongside the professionals at the Players creating theater.

Participating in the Peninsula Players’ internship program this season are students from theater programs across the country including D. Savannah Brown, graduate of Illinois State University; Julia Eckelkamp, student at Centenary College of Louisiana; Dean Gnadinger, student at Hanover College in Indiana; Phillip Jindra graduate of Lawrence University in Wisconsin; Dominick Mugavero, student at Northwestern University, Illinois; Jordan Pokorney, student at Columbia College, Illinois; Bailee Schmidt, graduate of Viterbo University, Wisconsin; Elizabeth Streif, student at the University of Minnesota Duluth; Mackenzie Tank, graduate of Indiana State University; and Arielle Zelinski, graduate of St. Norbert College, Wisconsin.

Participants in our internship program do not specialize in one area of production, rather the Players provides a well-rounded experience.  As each show opens, participants rotate their daytime and nighttime show duties.  They direct traffic, usher, distribute tickets, operate the light board, sound board and follow spots. They are backstage crew members who serve as dressers, and scene shifters, as well as act in productions.  The administrative interns also rotate house management, concession management as well as assist with various administrative projects.

For example, during the build of “Chapatti” Jordan assisted in the rehearsal hall as assistant stage manager, then backstage while the show was on stage.  He then crafted stage props and dressing for “The Hollow,” processed ticket orders for “The Full Monty,” then built the scenery for “Alabama Story” and “The 39 Steps.” He also ran a follow spot for “The Full Monty,” the light board for “Alabama Story” and ran backstage props for “The Hollow.”

“I hoped to gain a well-rounded theater experience to hone the skills I already had and to gain experience in departments in which I had never worked,” Elizabeth (Lizzie) Streif said.  “What I actually got from my summer with the Players was so much more.

“I had the opportunity to work with people who have thrived in their areas of production. I shared their passion and grew my own. I learned new technical, communication, and problem-solving skills by working with the best of the best. In addition, I worked with these professionals as an equal and shared my own experiences and knowledge with them.”

Dean Gnadinger sharpened his carpentry skills by building scenery for “Chapatti” and “The Full Monty” and stage properties, like the coffee cart, for “Alabama Story.”  He also ran the sound board for “Chapatti” and was backstage to help with any microphone issues for “The Full Monty” while Savannah operated the soundboard and Bailee the light board.  The others were back stage shifting scenery and serving as dressers.

Savannah, Julia, Bailee, Lizzie and Phillip built costumes for all of the plays.  Mackenize experienced vocal acting by providing off-stage voice work to “The Hollow” and Dominick to radio ads while Philip performed in “The Full Monty.”  Bailee crafted maps of Scotland for “The 39 Steps” and Arielle and Mackenzie have been growing their administrative skills.

Our interns have been backstage or front of house to calmly work through snags, in the rehearsal hall to witness the growth of characters and all have advanced their customer service and communication skills.  They’ve worked alongside members of Actors’ Equity and United Scenic Artists absorbing how the professionals work and given the opportunity to ask questions.  They’ve participated in workshop held by various company members, been nurtured and given a chance to grow from their mistakes.  They rose to the challenges of summer stock, faced the gauntlet of change-overs and are about to bloom as professional artists.

“My favorite experiences from the season include my work in our properties department building and painting furniture with shop manager Kristen Nuhn to create Dan and Betty’s world for “Chapatti,’” Streif said.  “Another invaluable experience was working with William Collins on the stage management team for ‘Alabama Story.’ During this experience, I tracked the multitudes of paper props, worked on the deck crew to move scenery, organized the crew, and attended to the actors’ needs. At the same time, I got the opportunity to observe William’s style of management: the way he runs a room, works with the director, and keeps all of the aspects of production organized and running smoothly.”

Jordan aspires to be a theatrical director, Julia to design costumes, Dominick to perform and Dean to become a technical director after graduation.  As they return to their programs not only do they take all these growth and honed skills back with them they also take bonds and friendships they forged with fellow company members.

“Apart from the enriching professional experience that the Players provided me, I made connections this summer that I will cherish beyond their professional value,” Streif said. “The people I met at Players, apart from being successful working actors, technicians, and designers, are the kindest and most genuine people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. What I will carry with me from this place, more than any of the incredible experiences I had working on these shows, is the love and support of my new family in the North Woods.”

While Jordan, Dominick, Lizzie, Julia and Dean take their professional summer stock experience back to their theater programs Bailee, Savannah, Phillip, Mackenzie and Arielle will continue to assist with the performances of the hilarious spy-thriller “The 39 Steps.”   You still have a chance to thank them while they assist you to a parking spot or to chat with them at the canteen, Box Office or house when you come to see “The 39 Steps.”

For information about tickets for “The 39 Steps” or our internship program phone the Box Office at 920-868-3287 or visit  Join us by the bay, where the sun sets, the curtain rises, the stars shine and the craft and passion of theater is passed down to next generation.