Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.
In the last decade, I got to do some amazing things and had the opportunities to work and perform on various creative projects. I performed on Good Morning America, I performed at Carnegie Hall twice, and I was a part of the winning ensemble in the Brooklyn Philharmonic Chamber Competition. All these amazing memories and opportunities stemmed from being a part of my high school’s most prestigious choir, Performing Choir. I was a member of PC for three out of my four years of high school, and I honestly wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.
But that’s a different story for a different post.
After I graduated high-school and started college, projects like that never really came up. I was busy getting “gen-ed” requirements out of the way in college, and I was too shy to join some sort of club while being there. By the time I was a junior, I wanted to utilize my time better and start doing things to build up my resume. I had tried once to get an internship before my junior year started, but that’s an experience that wasn’t good at all.
By the time I was on my winter break, I had found myself wanted to get an internship to get the feel of being a part of a production company, whether it was for the theater or for film. After looking, I found one for a company in the city called Poetic Theater Productions. They were looking for two production interns to assist them throughout their winter production season of Poetic License. This was now the third time I got called back for an interview and the first two didn’t go well. To say the least, I was immensely nervous for this interview.
hen I arrived at their location, I was greeted by the person who was going to interview me for the position. With a copy of my resume in my hand, I handed it over and allowed the interviewer to review my resume for a minute or two. Because I had participated at a non-profit affiliated with the company, a lot of the questions I was asked had to do with my experience there. The conversation honestly came naturally, and when I left the interview, I had felt really good. A couple of hours later, I got the email saying I got the job.
It was nerve-wracking going to work on my first day. I was there trying to get the hang of working a 10 to 4, and my first day was me and this other intern literally getting paperwork done for the actors participating in the two productions the company was running. By the end of the week, I had gotten assigned to work on the production entitled “Dijla Wal Furat: Between The Tigris and The Euphrates” The play was written by playwright Maurice Decaul, a former U.S. Marine officer who witnessed the Iraqi invasion back in 2003. Although the play isn’t a direct memoir of his experience, the play’s world is around that time period of the invasion and the Iraq War in 2003. The play shows you both stories of the spectrum; the Americans who are fighting to safely return home to their families, and the Iraqi people who are trying to survive on a day-to-day basis.
I can’t lie, it took a couple of readings before I actually understood everything that was happening, but by the time I got into rehearsals for the show, the actors seriously brought this script to life. Now, I’ve worked with a lot of student actors in my day, but to see those out of college with degrees and that actually belong to agencies and just working as professional actors… it was crazy seeing how talented these people were. For a show that only had 8 characters, these actors made it feel like a 20-character project, in all honesty.
Once the show dates were coming closer and closer, rehearsals got crazy intense. I wasn’t making it home until late at night, doing my school work at all crazy hours in the morning, and even sometimes during rehearsal breaks during the week. My weeks consist of me taking my three classes two days a week, running to the city and getting ready for another rehearsal. As tiring and stressful as it got, I still was able to be present and as helpful as I could when I was working. I loved doing what I did.
When showtime came around, I was in charge of mainly two things: controlling the soundboard during the show and making sure all the props and costumes were placed back in their appropriate areas after the show. Putting heavy fake guns in a bin and having to recheck if every little prop was in place was time-consuming, but as the shows kept going, the job became a lot easier. For the last night of the “previews” (which was really just a period for us production people to tweak certain things before the actual show dates), I invited my partner to come and see the show, and surprisingly he enjoyed it very much! It felt good to share with someone who knew me the work I’ve been doing for the last month and still have a good time.
The last day of the show was a bittersweet one; we all got dressed up for the last show and we had possibly the biggest audience that night. By the last show, doing this every other night felt like something I was supposed to be doing for life. I didn’t mind it either; watching the same show over and over again and enjoying it as if it was my first time doing so. But, the season was now coming to an end, which meant the shows were closing and my time with Poetic Theater Productions was coming to an end as well. I don’t even remember being all that excited for my little paycheck at the end of the season. I wasn’t even doing it for the money; I was doing it for the experience and it was an experience I wouldn’t ever want to replace.
I’m glad that my first job was something that I absolutely loved doing. It wasn’t no fast-food joint or retail; it was something that I saw myself (and even still see myself) doing as an actual job. Of course, once the production season was over, college was a lot easier since I was able to now just focus on school and not my job at the same time.
But I do miss it.
If anyone who I got the pleasure of working with during my time at Poetic Theater Productions is reading this, thank you so much for making my first experience in the theater world one to remember! You guys made me feel like I belonged, which I never seem to feel like I do anywhere and allowing me to be myself while working on such an amazing production was all I could’ve wanted coming out of an experience like this. To the production team, actors, directors, stage manager; literally everyone who worked on this production: thank you for everything, three years later.