"I was watching extra rehearsals, spending all day in the theatre, and reading French texts during my breaks. I conducted interviews with the students, and picked my supervisor’s brain apart. I was hungry to understand what was going on around me. To get more experience, one has to make the most of one’s surroundings."
Program of Study: Theatre, French
Internship: National Conservatory
Location: Marseille, France
Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities as an intern.
I interned at the National Conservatory in Marseille, France. I watched the theatre students rehearse for their upcoming productions and offered feedback when asked by the director. I also helped with their performances around town.
How did you find your internship?
In January 2007, I went on the French Theatre ICA and spent a week working with the National Conservatory students. In February 2008, when the students came to Goucher to put on a production, I asked the professor if it was possible to set up an internship that summer. We stayed in contact through email.
What resources did you find particularly helpful in your internship search?
CDO and the Office of International Studies were both very helpful throughout the process, as were my professors Mark Ingram and Becky Free.
Why did you choose your internship? What factored into your search and applying?
I wanted an internship that would give me more theatre experience. As a theatre major and French minor, the National Conservatory seemed like a great opportunity to combine my two areas of interest and see how they are connected.
What were you most apprehensive about going into your internship?
I was most anxious about traveling. Airports always make me uneasy! Furthermore, I was nervous about being able to successfully communicate in French. This position required me to read, comprehend, and speak at a higher level I was not sure I had reached.
What did you hope to gain from your internship experience?
I hoped to expose myself to different types of theatre, and to learn more about French theatre. Thankfully, the Conservatory was working on two vastly different projects during my stay there- a series of classical one-acts and a movement-based interpretation of poems by Palestinian author Mahmoud Darwich. The latter was about life as a war refugee, and was performed partly in Arabic. The students brought the play into the suburbs of Marseille, where there is a large Arabic population. Many audience members gave testimonials after the performances about how deeply the poems affected them. It was a very emotional project to rehearse.
How did your internship experience influence your academic and career interests/goals/plans?
I would like to further my study of French theatre. Each city has its own culture, and I would like to travel to other French cities to observe their theatre scenes. This internship inspired me to expose myself to as many types of theatre as possible!
What were the most challenging aspects of your internship?
The language barrier proved to be the most difficult part of the experience; I had not taken French for an entire semester before embarking on this adventure. There were times when my head was pounding from thinking in two languages, and I was desperate to speak English. However, after a few days in Marseille, my head assimilated and allowed me to speak French more easily.
What were most rewarding aspects of your internship?
When I watched the students perform the Darwich project, I was amazed. I had watched the rehearsal process for the show; I watched them discover the meaning behind the words and set them to movement. To see the students perform this unique, beautiful work in front of such an appreciative audience was truly remarkable.
Any funny/ embarrassing things happen during your internship?
My flights to France were an exhausting eleven hours total. As soon as I got off the plane, my host drove me to a rehearsal. Can you say “jet lag?!” I was nodding off so much I don’t remember being there. Apparently, the owner of the theatre found me on a couch downstairs a couple hours later, passed out. I can still hear him asking what was up with “la fille américaine” napping on his sofa.
How do you feel your internship prepared you for the real world?
I was able to see the way that French conservatories prepare for shows. It was very different from how we rehearse plays at Goucher. Furthermore, I learned how to navigate my way around a foreign city, a skill that I will forever need to hone.
What advice would you give to students to help them make the most of their internship experience?
One should try to learn as much as possible! I was watching extra rehearsals, spending all day in the theatre, and reading French texts during my breaks. I conducted interviews with the students, and picked my supervisor’s brain apart. I was hungry to understand what was going on around me. To get more experience, one has to make the most of one’s surroundings.
How do you utilize the skills you developed in your internship experience in your job now?
When I return to Goucher this fall and begin working on various theatre projects, my experiences with the Conservatory will influence me greatly. Many of my perceptions have changed; for instance, I value movement more, analyze texts differently, and see director-actor relationships as more open to communication. My theatre experiences will never be the same after my internship at the Conservatory.