Each year, our partner Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR), selects a group of local high school and college students to participate in the I CAN @ THEARC Technical Theater Management Internship program.
The I CAN program is a paid internship for high school and college students to gain knowledge and skills in technical theater management.
LISC DC provided funding to support the stipend for the interns’ participation in the program. With our support, the internship program was able to expand to a year-long program.
I CAN interns train on Saturdays, and work a minimum of 4-6 production rentals at THEARC Theater, serving as stagehands, stage managers, sound techs, lighting designers, house managers, ushers, and box office staff.
The interns gain hands-on training experiences that increase their knowledge, skills, and interest in event production and technical theater.
They learn the fundamentals of production and stage management, participate in interactive field trips, workshops, and seminars, serve as ushers during theater events, and present a production of their own.
The goal of the I CAN internship program is to train a cadre of youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain employment at THEARC Theater and/or other centers of hospitality in the District and beyond.
Participants gain experience in event production and are exposed to diverse career fields within the entertainment/arts industry.
On a recent visit to THEARC, LISC DC had the opportunity to speak with two participants in the I CAN internship program.
Roman Bennett is a high school student that is currently an intern in the I CAN internship program.
Joyce Milford is a recent college graduate and is a production assistant at THEARC.
Q&A with Roman Bennett, I CAN intern
How long have you been participating in the I CAN internship program? This is my second year. I plan to continue in the program for as long as possible, until I am working full-time in the technical field. I eventually want to be a Technical Director and create my own business.
How would you describe the internship program? It’s very challenging, yet very rewarding. You learn trouble-shooting and problem-solving skills. The program opens doors to a lot of connections and experiences. For example, through the program, I visited the Verizon Center, the Kennedy Center and several colleges.
Were you surprised by any aspect of the internship program? I was surprised by the technical aspect of the internship. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes that the audience is unaware of. I learned about sound, design, and stage management.
What part of the internship program is particularly interesting to you? Sound engineering is my favorite. I am going to college to get a degree in this field.
What advice would you give to other I CAN participants? Be committed. Don’t let one mistake stop you from doing what you enjoy doing. And, if you are not focused, don’t bother showing up.
Q&A with Joyce Milford, Production Assistant for THEARC
How did you get involved with the I CAN internship program? I transferred to Howard University and majored in their tech theater program. I learned about THEARC through Nolvert Garcia. He is a sound engineer at Howard and also works at THEARC’s Technical Theater. I did my internship for school at THEARC as the Set Design Instructor and am now a Production Assistant.
What were your initial thoughts and expectations? I was both eager and nervous to serve as the Production Assistant, but the great thing was that I saw the willingness of the high school students to learn as much as possible about technical theater. My expectations were met, as far as what students were bringing to the table, and I saw what I could bring based upon my expertise and knowledge. I am fortunate to be able to fuse my love for teaching and passion in theater tech.
What does your job entail? I teach the design process and construction process. I find this aspect very easy to engage students because it’s very hands-on. I also teach students about sound and lighting, with the realization that these areas didn’t come naturally to me, so I have to be creative in teaching it to others. Interns are also taught the budgeting and research aspects of the work.
What have been some of your proudest moments in the I CAN program? I’ve had the opportunity to witness the growth of students and it has been awe-inspiring. One student, an 11th grader, has been in the program for a couple of years now. He initially wasn’t wowed about learning technical theater, but now he is very excited about it. You can see how his thought process has expanded when he relays his opinions on the direction we should take. It’s refreshing to see fresh ideas being shared, and the student thinking in an artistic way.
How has the I CAN program impacted you? The I CAN program has had a positive impact on my life. Working with students has allowed me to have more patience. I think bigger when interacting with students. Naturally, my brain wants to think realistically rather than creatively, but at THEARC, the latter is encouraged.
What is next for you? I graduated from Howard University with a BA in Fine Arts and Technical Theater this past May. I am considering returning to South Africa to do some theater work and teaching students about this field. The I CAN program is very flexible and gracious with allowing me to explore other opportunities while knowing that I will still have a place there.