Arden Professional Apprentices—On the Fringe
By Bobby Bangert, advice Development Assistant and APA Class 16
At the Arden, nothing heralds the beginning of another season like the arrival of the new class of Arden Professional Apprentices. As a proud member of APA Class 16 (2008-09), seeing the new crop of apprentices (Class 18!) start on Monday brought back lots of memories, but it also reminded me of the tremendous affect this program has, not only on the individual apprentices it produces, but on our entire community.
The Arden has truly outstanding education programs, including our apprentice program. It is completely unique in that its participants work in every aspect of the company, and after ten months they can work in every department with proficiency in a variety of tasks. It is appropriate that the beginning of each new apprentice class coincides with the Live Arts and Philly Fringe, a time when our city is literally bursting with theatre in every possible space. Former apprentices are now theatre professionals working in Philadelphia and all over the country applying the skills they learned at the Arden to create, produce, market, and manage their own shows, and at no time is that more apparent than during Fringe time.
The list of former APAs producing in the Fringe is impressive, and below is a sampling of the former APAs whose work you can see in the festival this year:
Cecily and Gwendolyn’s Fantastical Paranormal and Quantum Entanglement is being produced by the Philadelphia Joke Initiative, which is headed by Class 15’s Alexis Simpson. Alexis is also featured in The Real Housewives of Philadelphia’s Main Line-O-Mania.
Fugue State stars Class 17’s Meredith Sonnen.
How to Solve a Bear is directed by Class 13’s Meg Walsh, and stars Class 15’s Scott Sheppard.
Kid Out of Nowhere is a new play, and the inaugural production of the newly formed Act Normal Theatre Company, which is directed by yours truly, Class 16’s Bobby Bangert, starring fellow Class 16 alums Hillary Rea and Richard Sonne, as well as the costumes of Class 16’s Katherine Fritz.
In addition to producing for the Fringe, former APAs are working with more established companies with Live Arts shows. Mark Kennedy of Class 17 is the Sound Operator for Pig Iron’s Live Arts show, Cankerblossom. New Paradise Laboratories’ Freedom Club stars Class 5’s McKenna Kerrigan, and is Assistant Stage Managed by Class 16’s Katherine Fritz.
While we’re out getting ready for the Fringe to begin this weekend, Class 18 is just getting oriented. The next time you’re at the Arden, keep an eye out for the apprentices (they will probably be Assistant Stage Managing the show you’re seeing, printing your tickets in the box office, or cleaning the lobby you’re standing in). Right now they’re learning the ropes here, but this time next year I can’t wait to see what Class 18 will be doing out there in the community.