By Laura Brueckner
We here at TBA love our interns. Not only do they help us with projects large and small and lend their energy and smarts to our brainstorming sessions, they bring a fresh perspective to the office that reminds us on a daily basis why we do the work we do. Our most recent intern (and budding playwright) Megan McCarthy was kind enough to do a brief interview with us about her time in the eye of the hurricane that is TBA. Read and enjoy!
|TBA internship alumna Megan McCarthy ponders the bright future that now lies ahead.
Photo: Alan Kline
So, Megan, can you tell us a little about your experience in theatre before interning at TBA?
I have been doing theatre since I was in middle school. My breakout role was Orphan Boy Number Two in Presidio Middle School’s production of A Christmas Carol. Since then, most of the productions I have been involved with were school-related. I studied theatre at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts High School and currently am a theatre major at Boston University. My last role was Puppy in Meg Morishnik’s The Tall Girls at BU.
Why did you choose TBA for an internship?
The first time I heard about TBA was in high school, when my theatre class volunteered at the TBA General Auditions. At the event, I remember thinking how wonderful it was that there is a place where theatre-makers and aspiring theatre-makers can come together to find each other and collaborate. Because most of my theatre experience has been related to school, I was not very familiar with the Bay Area’s theatre scene. After joining TBA as a member in September, I got an email about internship opportunities, which was thrilling because it seemed like a great way to not only get to know the local theatre scene from experts, but also work for an organization that I revere.
What is something unexpected that you learned by interning at TBA?
I expected to learn a lot about the local theatre scene—but, unexpectedly, I learned how amazingly accessible it is. Last summer, my Internet search skills were basic (to say the least). When I tried to find theatre without using TBA’s website or services, I found it difficult to find tickets that I could afford. Over the course of this internship, my Internet abilities have blossomed, but more importantly, I learned how to find incredible theatre all over the Bay Area that I could afford. The Bay Area is a rich, diverse fount of passionate artists; getting to see them firsthand has confirmed my desire to move back to San Francisco after I graduate.
Has your time at TBA helped you focus your artistic goals?
I think actually I've become less focused after this internship, but not in a unproductive way—rather, in a horizon-broadening way. I spent most of my life keeping myself in an “I am an actor” box because I felt like the only way to be successful is to focus on one thing and do all I can for that one thing. What I have been learning is that I am good at—and passionate about—a lot of things. Being multifaceted will aid me in my ability to make art, not hinder me. TBA hasn't helped me focus, but it has shown me that being a theatre-maker means a lot more than the one job title I had planned for myself.
What about career goals? Has your time at TBA helped you further develop or define them?
I hope to move back to San Francisco after college, and had been anxious about my ability to find work. With all of the services that TBA offers, like General Auditions and ATLAS workshops, I am 100 times more confident in my ability to find work as an actor in the Bay Area and live a sustainable life.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about TBA?
TBA does so much with a very small staff. I knew about all of the services and events that TBA offers, but I had no idea that they did so much with so few people. It is truly incredible to me how much responsibility each staff member takes on in service of TBA, as well as being productive artists outside of the office. Everyone at TBA does everything with so much regard for helping the artistic community and using every resource to do so. I think that’s my favorite thing about working for this non-profit: that every decision is made with people in mind. I spent a fair amount of time looking at data and statistics for TBA and a beautiful thing to me was, where other corporations or companies measure success by how much money is made, all of the statistics I worked with revolved around how many people used or benefited from services. TBA to me is group of passionate people working really hard to help other passionate people.
Okay, give us one funny TBA story.
The office is fairly small—which means you can hear every phone call anyone makes. Even though everyone in the office has performance experience, many of us are still anxious and uncomfortable leaving messages over the phone. To deal with this anxiety, everyone has a “phone voice’ that they drop into during phone calls. In general, people who are anxious on the phone may stutter more than usual, or say “um” excessively—but here, “anxious phone voice” translates into an eloquent, formal radio voice that is either an octave higher or lower than the person's normal speaking voice. Whether someone was recording the phone tree or leaving messages, I always paused my music to listen to the variations of the “post-Henry Higgins Eliza Doolittle” vocal pattern that everyone seemed to acquire when they were on the phone.
What are your next steps in your theatre-making path, now that your TBA internship is all wrapped up?
I have two more years at BU, including a semester at LAMDA [London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art], so the upcoming future is about gaining all the experience and knowledge that college has to offer, but I have recently gotten into playwriting, too. Hopefully while I’m acting in plays and staying up far too late finishing essays, I can also start crafting plays of my own. The dream is to make theatre that inspires and changes the world—and after this summer, it’s seeming more and more attainable.
Theatre Bay Area offers its interns exposure to Bay Area's professional theatre scene, a free TBA membership for the duration of their internship, a travel stipend, college credit, access to free show tickets and an interning experience tailored to their interests. For more information, visit our “Get Involved” page (scroll down to “Intern with Us”) or email Sal Mattos, our members and events associate.