As I sat in the lobby at Juilliard waiting to head in for my interview, I was in shock. Here I was in New York City, a far cry from the humble beginnings of small town North Carolina, and I’m sitting in the lobby of one of the greatest arts institutions in the world. Overwhelmed was an understatement.
Miraculously, the interview went great, it seemed that I would fit into the program really well, and as I toured the spaces, I was very humbled as I thought, this is it! This is what I have been working so hard for. I knew that this internship would also be a lot of hard work, long hours, and stress filled moments, but this was exactly what I had been working towards for the past four years, a step in the right direction. This was my chance: to move to the city, to work with the best of the best, to be in the middle of it all! I had to do it, I had to take it. And I did. And it has been one of the most rewarding, crazy, stressful, intense years of my entire life!
I packed up my bags, and moved up to New York City a week before the internship was to start, as I wanted to attempt to adjust to my radically new surroundings before feeling completely overwhelmed by a new job. One of the most important things for a stage manager is feeling comfortable in their surroundings, as they are supposed to be the ones who always know where things are, where to go or where to be – new spaces are very difficult!. On our first day, we received our assignments for the year, which was a list of the shows I would be working on as well as who would be doing these shows. Right off the bat I was put into events, which are daylong shows that rehearse during the day, and perform at night in the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, the biggest of all the Juilliard spaces.
One great event I did was the Luther Henderson Foundation Benefit to raise money for one of the great Juilliard alumni, Luther Henderson’s foundation. David C. Wolfe directed, and many great celebrities came out to pay tribute to a man and his cause; Savion Glover tapped, Felicia Rashad spoke, and Nancy Wilson sang. It was an amazing evening.
I then had the opportunity to Stage Manage a play and a very intense play at that! The House of Bernarda Alba with director Moni Yakim. Moni is one of the founding fathers of Juilliard and one of the nicest people you will ever meet! He has been working here, at Juilliard, for over thirty years, and is considered an institution in the theatre world. Kathy Hood, the Head of the Drama Department, attempted to explain his style to me before I started working with him: “Moni makes the actors use muscles they don’t yet have.” It was always interesting sitting in a rehearsal room with him! One day, he had the actors pretend that their characters were animals. I literally never knew what was going to happen on a day-to-day basis!