The founders of Peninsula Players, brother and sister Richard and Caroline Fisher, dreamed of a professional company where apprentices/interns could learn by doing. That dream is alive today as America’s oldest professional resident summer theater celebrates its 78th season.
In 1937 the Fishers produced 10 shows a summer, one show per week. The actors were cast in many roles, sometimes having a bigger part in one show and sometimes a walk-on bit in another. Dorm rooms housed the company, and they would gather in the lodge for meals.
When Jean Sincere was an apprentice in 1939 she also worked in the box office as well as performing on stage. Bob Thompson remembered being paid $5 a week plus room and board.
With the passing decades some things have changed. The Players now perform five shows a season not 10. The resident acting company still performs in more than one show a season. The dorm rooms still house the company, and although the apprentices are now called interns they are still an essential part of the Players company.
We are in the midst of building and rehearsing show number four, Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot” with our 11 interns working side-by-side with professional directors, designers, actors, stage managers and other craftsman who are passing on their skills and passion for this craft of theater.
Interns gather from all over the country, including Colorado, Iowa, New York, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, hoping to enhance their knowledge and experience in designated fields.
Eight production interns rotate duties every three weeks between the scene shop, costumes, properties and backstage running crew duties such as lighting and sound. Three administrative interns assist in the box office, manage the canteen and work as audience liaisons (house managers).
This season three interns in the Players program are underwritten by the Jean Sincere Memorial Fund and the Kathryn A. Doerr Apprentice Fund. Established in 2013 in memory of Kathryn A. Doerr, “Katie” by her family, this fund provides critical support to the apprentice program. During her lifetime Doerr was an advocate and supporter of arts education. Her legacy provides scholarships for two apprentices during the Players season.
“The diverse internship experience is what drew me to Peninsula Players, “said Ross Weinert, a recent graduate of Ripon College from Bruce, Wis. “I hope to gain knowledge, experience and friendships from my time with the Players.”
Weinert’s internship, along with Kyla Kinnmaon’s experience, is underwritten by the Doerr Fund. Kinnamon, a graduate of UW-Stevens Point from DeForest, Wis., is interested in properties design while Weinert’s focus is sound design.
Also established for the 2013 season is the Jean Sincere Memorial Fund, created in memory of the beloved Peninsula Player company member who last performed with Thompson in 1992. Sincere shared the stage with Stacy Keach in 1939. Sincere’s career spanned Broadway and regional theater credits to films, radio and even recent television appearances on “Glee.”
In honor of Sincere’s love of theater her family and friends established a memorial fund at Peninsula Players for the 2013 season to support an intern interested in acting.
Marlee Turmin, a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University who is interested in acting, is from Astoria, New York. Her administrative internship is underwritten by the Jean Sincere Memorial Fund.
“I grew up coming to shows at Peninsula Players and being affected by the magic that happens here,” Turmin said. “The Players definitely played a role in inspiring me to pursue acting and a career in theater. To have the opportunity to work here as a young adult and contribute to the magic is really special.”
As assignments vary from show to show Peninsula Players interns gain diverse experiences, which can include but are not limited to, running crew, light and sound board operation, serving as a dresser or props/lighting crew members as well as front of house assignments like ticket taker, usher, house sitter or working at the will call window.
Working with theater professionals day in and day out means interns constantly make contacts in the business world and build a supportive network to help them thrive as future artists in the business.
“That’s why I’m here, “said Samantha Bauman-Martin, a junior at San Diego University, from Green Bay. “I knew I’d be part of an intensive program that would make me a more well-rounded theater practitioner. And I also knew that Peninsula Players is unique in its sense of family. When you spend 12 hours a day working with such wonderful people you create connections that last forever.”
Participating in the Players’ program this season include, Steven Brown, a senior at Carthage College from Kenosha, Wisconsin; Ross Weinert, a graduate of Ripon College from Bruce, Wisconsin, Abigail Lee, a senior at UW-Green Bay from Kewaunee, Wisconsin; Sarah Stokes, a recent graduate of UW-Whitewater from Mazomanie, Wisconsin; Benjamin Nichols, a junior at Columbia College from St. Paul, Minnesota; Sophie Hernando Kofman a junior at Lawrence University from Boulder, Colorado; Marlee Turim of Astoria, New York a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University; Brent LeBlanc, a senior at Iowa State University from Des Moines, Iowa; Kyla Kinnamon, a graduate of UW-Stevens Point, from DeForest, Wisconsin; Samantha Bauman-Martin a junior at the University of San Diego from Orange County, California and Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Jonathon Weisse, a graduate of UW-Oshkosh from Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Peninsula Players patrons meet the interns during the season as they also usher, park cars, sell tickets in the box office, work the will call window and run the concession stand. The internship program is a vital part of the Peninsula Players mission to foster future generations of theater professionals. On your next visit take the time to stop and chat with one of the hard working crew and find out for yourself what they love about Peninsula Players.
For more information on the Players 2013 season or about our internship program visit www.peninsulaplayers.com or phone the Box Office at 920-868-3287. I look forward to seeing you by the bay, where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine.
Audra Baakari Boyle is the Peninsula Players Business Manager, celebrating her 19th season by the bay.