Being a Kennedy Center Intern

Being a Kennedy Center Intern

Let's start by making this clear: if you had asked me when I started college where I saw myself in the future, I would not have imagined that I would be where I am now - and I still have one more year of undergrad to go. Landing an internship at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was never something I expected. I wanted it, but it didn’t seem like something that someone from my small town was ever going to do.


Fast forward almost three years, and I’ve just assisted in hosting the 49th Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, something I’ve been working on this whole semester with my team. The American College Theatre Festival is an annual week-long event that hosts and recognizes students in a variety of disciplines such as acting, musical theatre, sound design, lighting design, stage management and playwriting.


These students have all excelled at the eight regional festivals held around the country. Since recognition at the National Festival includes an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., a large portion of the beginning of my internship was booking travel for 150+ participants and guest artists. Some of my other responsibilities included distributing information to these participants leading up to the festival.


As participants and guest artists arrived, The Kennedy Center seemed to be overflowing with talent in all areas of theatre. My week was spent running across The Kennedy Center (which, if you haven’t been, is massive) making sure participants got to where they needed to be for sessions aimed at professional development in this crazy world we all live in.


Throughout the week, there were also several script readings for two playwriting awards, which showcased the immense talent in the future of American playwrights. These playwrights did not shy away from controversial topics and explored them with purpose, and occasionally some really great jokes.


On Friday, the performances of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship finalists and Musical Theatre Showcase were held in one of the Kennedy Center’s many venues, the Family Theatre. To say that these students are talented beyond belief almost feels like an understatement. The Irene Ryan nominees chose relevant material that commented on issues of race, sexuality and disability, through both dramatic and comedic pieces.


When it came to the second act of the evening, the musical theatre fellows, simply put, blew everyone away. The way that each of them attacked songs they had chosen for extremely personal reasons was incredible to watch. Below is a photo of me with most of the musical theatre fellows. Learn those faces folks, because I promise you will see them again.



The week closed out on Saturday with an awards ceremony, which recognized the talents of those designers, directors, playwrights, dramaturgs, stage managers, and leadership fellows on their accomplishments at the national festival. After the short ceremony, it was a mad rush to get everyone on shuttles to the airport and Union Station to head home.


With all of the participants gone, it came to one last event to close out the festival: the annual business meeting and luncheon of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. Every year, the College of Fellows holds this event during the same weekend of the festival, and the intern working on the festival is responsible for working with the Dean to plan the event. This includes securing contracts to make sure the space for the business meetings is set up with chairs, tables, a podium with working sound and a beverage service to start the morning. Following the meeting, the Fellows gather in another space for their annual luncheon catered by The Kennedy Center’s in-house catering company. I worked with the Dean to create the menu, design the invitations for the event and distribute them to the Fellows.


This job comes with a few perks: I got to attend the luncheon with guests such as six-time Tony Award winning costume designer, William Ivey Long; the president of the Disney Theatrical Group, Thomas Schumacher; and international producer of theatre, television, and concerts, Bonnie Nelson Schwartz.


To sum up the week is hard to do. If I had to in only one sentence, it would be: working on the American College Theatre Festival and the annual events for the College of Fellows has been challenging, exciting and incredibly fulfilling, and I am truly lucky to experience it so early on in my career.

Read Brandi's previous blog posts

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