Life as an Artistic Intern

By Alison Ruth, Artistic Intern

I’m Alison, one of two artistic interns at Cal Shakes!  Every day is different in the artistic office, which is really fun. My favorite project has been helping Jessica Richards, the casting director, with the understudy casts. It’s been interesting to see what the process of casting is like. My background in theater is in acting and I had always heard that if you don’t get a part, it’s not personal, maybe they were just looking for a different type, and I am here to report that it is definitely true. When finding understudies I’ve been told to look for very specific types. I’ll look through tons of headshots to find people with the right physical appearance – before even considering their acting. So it’s very reassuring, from an actor’s perspective, to know that sometimes you really just cannot help it, you are simply not what the casting director is looking for.

Another big (and wonderful!) part of my intern experience has been living in one of the intern houses. Each day when I come home I get to hear about everyone else’s days and it’s really cool to listen to my housemates’ experiences at the Summer Shakespeare Conservatory and street team. Even though I don’t go to conservatory every day (though I will be doing the lights for a few conservatory performances next week) I feel like I know what’s going on there and like I’m a little bit a part of it. Listening to them talk about lesson plans and theater games to teach the kids over the dinner table (during our family dinners, which are the best) is really entertaining and fascinating.


Q: Do you know what the worst thing about going on vacation is?

A: The two weeks leading up to the vacation.

We have been busier than a one-armed paperhanger with a case of the hives around here … we sent the winter/spring classes brochure off to the printer, changed the name of the gala (it’s now Gateway to India—lovely, no?) and secured wine of many colors for it (thank you, Wente Vineyards!), almost finished the season brochure, put up next season’s production calendar online … all while participating in the festive espionage that is the Secret Santa. Oh! And attending two (count’em, 2!) holiday parties, one with the board and one without*, and even starting auditions for next season.
It’s awesome–every time you go into the kitchenette to rinse out your coffee mug, there’s a man or woman pacing the Plank Stage and making strange noises, performing some strange hybrid of acting warm-up exercise and actual physical exercise (have I mentioned that the green room is as cold as a tomb this time of year?).
Here’s a few of today’s auditoners, accompanied by pictures of them making faces appropriate to their monologues:
Carmalita Shreve is an Equity actor who travelled here today from Vallejo; she auditioned with the Duchess of York’s cursing monlogue from Richard III.
This is Mary Mims, another Equity member who performed a cursing monologue from RIII—this time Queen Margaret’s. Mary came all the way from Portland to audition and to visit friends, but she didn’t drive, as she’s never learned. In fact, Mary thinks that “the automobile is the second-worst invention of our time.” The first? “Gunpowder.”
Jackson Davis has two last names. His name(s) is/are also an intersection in San Francisco, but sadly, not where he lives. This Equity actor’s from the South Bay, and he performed two monlogues today: one form Richard II and one as Tregorin from The Seagull. He recently did a show at Marin Theatre Company.
And finally, the only truly local actor I spoke to today, and also the only non-AEA: Natanya Silverman, who performed one of Viola’s monologues from Twelfth Night.
Best of luck, guys!
*Check out some staff holiday party photos!