Checking in with past APAs: A Live Arts/Fringe Round Up
By Mark Kennedy, Arden Professional Apprentice Class 17
That’s what the Arden teaches its Professional Apprentices, the six young professionals entering the Philadelphia theatre community with a 10-month job at the Arden working in every department all day every day, to give of themselves. 110%.
Philly theatre artists are no strangers to giving more than it all, especially during the Live Arts/Fringe season every September. The Arden has started catching up with a few of its graduated APAs to see what they’re up to during Fringe time, which is usually a lot.
I have been fortunate enough to produce, write, and perform a solo performance piece at the Fleisher Art Memorial Sanctuary about a lovelorn little servant named Checkers, which I adapted from an absurdist play called Ivona, Princess of Burgundia. To meet dear Checkers in a few short and silly video trailers, click here and here.
I was an APA during the Arden’s 2009/2010 season (Class 17) and if I hadn’t had the job I would be nowhere near producing, writing, or performing anything that came from my own brain today. Confidence in my abilities aside, the apprenticeship gave me the hands-on knowledge about, well, everything you need to make the project actually happen. Specifically it taught me, amongst an infinite amount of other things, how to fundraise. Funnily enough, we ended up with 110% of our goal after two weeks. There’s that 110% again.
After the apprenticeship, many former APAs choose to stay in Philly and work in theatre here. You’ll see them pop up everywhere, if you look closely. Here’s just a taste of what some of my fellow former APAs are up to in and around the Fringe:
Katherine Fritz (Class 16), is costume designer for The Speed of Surprise! by the Groundswell Players, along with actor/creator Scott Shepard (Class 15), light designer Dominic Chacon (Class 10), and stage manager Bryan Kerr (recently graduated Class 18). She’s also costume advisor for the Philadelphia Artist Collective’s The Oresteia Project. When she’s not doing THAT, she’s working on her costume designs for 1812 Productions’ Mistakes Were Made and Flashpoint Theatre Company’s Fat Cat Killers, coming soon after the Fringe.
Meredith Sonnen (Class 17) is assistant stage manager for New Paradise Laboratories’ Extremely Public Displays of Privacy (I’m also helping coordinate the interactive walking tours for their Act II: Displays, and working on NPL’s new website, Frame). Meredith is also involved in the production management of Applied Mechanics’ Overseers, which includes Thomas Choinacky (Class 15) as a performer/creator.
Maura Roche (Class 16) is scenic designer for 11th Hour Theatre Company’s The Bomb-itty of Errors, with sound designer Mark Valenzuela (Class 12) and lighting designer Dominic Chacon (Class 10), and she’s production manager and scenic designer for Theatre Horizon’s Kimberly Akimbo, with technical director Jefferson Haynes (Class 10).
Hillary Rea (Class 16) is performing in Philly Improv Theatre’s Dark Comedy. Tara Demmy (Class 18) is performing in Philly Improv Thaetre’s Fresh Laughs, working on marketing for OMBELICO Mask Ensemble’s Run, Grunt, Sing: An Open-Air Theatric, and working as Volunteer Coordinator for the Philadelphia Live Arts/Fringe Festival. Check in to volunteer if you’d like to help out! Anneliese Van Arsdale (Class 13) works for the Festival as Development Manager.
Georgia Schlessman (Class 12) is Master Electrician at the Lantern Theatre Company and Temple University, and is on tech staff for the Live Arts Festival and overhire for many companies, recently including Pig Iron Theatre Company, the Wilma Theater, Rude Mechanicals, and Swim Pony, to name a few.
Erin Read (Class 14), former Artistic Assistant at the Arden, is working in the Live Arts/Fringe Box Office and is rehearsing for her role in Simpatico Theatre Project’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Steve Gravelle (Class 14) is working as Second Lead Dresser for Aspects of Love at the Walnut Street Theatre.
Courtney Spiker Martin (Class 11), the Arden’s Business Manager, and Andrew Wojtek (Class 18), working in Development at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, promised me they’d be avid supporters of their APA friends.
Join them, and check out these shows!