Thoughts From Behind The Scenes: An Apprentice Speaks!

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During the production process of Dead Man’s Shoes, we’re posting a number of journal entries from
folks working in different areas of the show.  Here are some thoughts from Laura Thaisen,
the soon-to-be-departing-and-we’ll-miss-her Williamston Theatre apprentice!

Howdy, all!  As the Apprentice at Williamston Theatre, I’ve had a very unique perspective of Dead Man’s Shoes.  There’s no such thing as a “typical” day for someone who works in the theatre industry, and that statement holds especially true for an apprentice.  By day, some usual tasks I might have are taking ticket orders and preparing the building for rehearsals and performances.  By night, it’s on with the show!  But both day and night, the thrill and challenge of live theatre keeps everyone on their toes, and an apprentice, who has an ever-looming presence any time the theatre is active, usually has a hand in all the goings-on… from the smallest errands to some hefty responsibilities.

I’ve been working behind the scenes of Dead Man’s Shoes as a Production Assistant to the Stage Manager (or PASM) and on the running crew.  This entails everything you don’t see during a show.  With the guidance of an outstanding Stage Manager, and the assistance of two other PASMs, we help keep the show on its feet.  From setting and maintaining props and costumes, to becoming masters of the quick-costume-change for the actors who need it, the four of us keep the gears turning backstage while the actors keep them going onstage.

And speaking of gears, how about that scrolling backdrop, eh? (Re: hefty responsibilities.)

This is the first “world premiere” play I have worked on, and I found it fascinating to watch the process of discoveries taking place by the actors, director, designers and the playwright.  I like to think that part of my job is being a “lucky observer,” absorbing as much information that I can from anyone and anywhere I can get it in the theatre.  Simply standing by, watching, and studying the jobs and actions of everyone involved in Dead Man’s Shoes has been one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve had in this industry.  Not to mention, I’ve learned some pretty interesting Old West history!

Dead Man’s Shoes is the last show I will be participating in at Williamston Theatre.  I’m happy to say that former apprentice, and my friend, Alex Gay is returning take over the apprentice position.  So I’d also like to take this opportunity to express what a pleasure and honor it’s been to work at such an amazing place. Williamston Theatre, and Dead Man’s Shoes especially, has introduced me to so many wonderful and talented Michigan artists and theatre professionals.  I’ve learned so much during my time here and I’m excited to apply that to my future theatre endeavors.

I want to add a final and enormous THANK YOU to Tony, Chris, John, and Emily.  It’s been a blessing and absolute privilege to work with you all.  You are my Michigan family.

Thank you again, and as always, ENJOY THE SHOW!

Laura D. Thaisen

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