The Future Is In Good Hands: A Conversation with InterAct’s Apprentices | Theatre Philadelphia
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The Future Is In Good Hands: A Conversation with InterAct’s Apprentices

Feb 9, 2018

The Future Is In Good Hands: A Conversation with InterAct’s Apprentices
By Daniel Boulos

When she first learned about Philly Theatre Week, InterAct Theatre Company apprentice Christa Federico had an idea. There would naturally be plenty of performances happening that week, but what about educational outreach? Although she wasn’t sure exactly what she and her three fellow apprentices might do, it seemed clear to them all that Philly Theatre Week offered an opportunity to share their resources and use their collective knowledge and connections in a way that would “benefit the greater good,” an idea culminating this Saturday in a panel discussion entitled “So You’re a Theatre Person New to Philadelphia… Now What?” The panelists, an assortment of Philadelphia-based artists, will discuss their own experiences and how they gained traction in the Philly theatre scene, and InterAct will host a networking reception following the panel discussion, allowing participants and attendees a chance to get to know one another.

I got an opportunity to get to know the InterAct apprentices recently when I sat down with them at the Good Karma Café at the Wilma to chat about the upcoming panel. What I found during our conversation was a diverse group of young artists who, despite having divergent career aspirations, share an acute awareness of all that makes Philadelphia a unique city for artists to call home.

Paige Zubel moved to Philadelphia after completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Houston. She recalls looking askance the first time someone told her that Philadelphia was a small town in a big city, but she soon understood what they meant, noting that she was surprised at just how often she would bump into people on the streets, and how many connections she has made in that way. “That’s what really special about this place,” she said. “You really never feel alone.” She added that it’s a city where “you always feel supported by your peers,” a feeling driven by the way in which so many artists in Philadelphia wear multiple hats and are always stretching themselves, making Philly a safe place in which to experiment. Claris Park echoed Zubel’s sentiments, but added that Philly is not just a safe place for artists, but rather is also a brave place where artists can pursue work that pushes theatrical boundaries.



Park, a former premed student who graduated from Penn with a degree in theater, also noted that the theatre scene in Philadelphia seems to have been built on a foundation of community and support rather than competition and that there is a real commitment to helping younger artists and fostering new talent. “Seeing older more established artists take younger artists under their wing is something I’ve noticed and has been really helpful for me,” she said, and her fellow apprentices were quick to emphasize that that very sense of encouragement and support was an important impetus for the panel discussion, which they hope to use to foster that same sense of mentorship, support, and encouragement on a larger scale.

Another of the apprentices, Vivian Chace, was drawn to Philly by its “proud history of political and theatrical engagement.” Whereas a city like New York that seems to have so much going on can make one feel as though they can’t make a big impact, the tight-knit nature of the small neighborhoods in Philly, says Chace, provide fertile ground for engagement. Having worked previously in a large regional theatre as a as a literary and dramaturgy apprentice, they have found InterAct to be a place where they can both round out their skills and forge connections with underserved communities, and they are glad to have the opportunity to reach out to the community in a way that might not be afforded in larger theatres.

All the apprentices were quick to echo Chace’s sentiments about community outreach, noting that for many organizations in this city, there is no distinct line between theatre and community engagement. Christa Federico noted that her own experience as a young person with access to arts education has played a role in her deciding to pursue a career in theatre administration and she said she hopes to have a hand in running a theater with a strong educational component.

The InterAct apprentices will remain with the theatre through the end of this season, and then they’ll be off to pursue their next opportunities. Wherever their individual careers take them, they will leave InterAct having made strong connections with each other and many other artists and administrators. More importantly, the theatre community will gain four young artists deeply committed to their work and to using their work to connect with the world at large. Leaving Good Karma after our conversation, I couldn’t help but smile as I reflected on their devotion to their work and their keen understanding of the Philly theatre community.

The InterAct Apprentices’ panel will take place at InterAct’s Drake Theatre, located at 302 S. Hicks Street in Center City, on Sautrday, February 10 at 2pm, followed by a networking reception at 3:30pm. Panelists include Alice York, Christina May, Kellie Mecleary, and Cat Ramirez.

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