Isabel Thomas’20

I have always been in love with theatre. And writing. And history. And sociology. This past year I discovered dramaturgy, a career that incorporates all of these, and immediately started searching for opportunities to get involved with it. Dramaturgy involves researching plays to ensure that they accurately reflect the history and sociology underpinning their settings and characters. In new shows, dramaturgy takes on an additional element of editing the script. In restaged shows, it consists of creating a packet for the directors and actors full of information about terms used, time period, location, setting-specific social paradigms, historical context of the story and its creator(s), and analysis of themes addressed in the script. As dramaturg, I made one such packet for the Dramatic Repertory Company’s most recent production: Olivia Dufault’s Year of the Rooster, directed by Bowdoin’s own Professor Sally Wood. This summer, I could continue working with DRC as their first Dramaturgy Intern. DRC is based in Portland, where Keith and Vanessa Beyland, who run the company, operate out of their home and multiple theatres rather than one central location. For this reason, I would work from Brunswick, reading and synthesizing plays for DRC to consider for future seasons and researching the plays that they have selected. This way, when they begin production they will already have dramaturgical packets to guide the process. The internship with DRC would be an incredible opportunity for me to assist this theatre company, make connections in Portland’s theatre community, and learn the skills of dramaturgy.

The particularity of dramaturgy makes it a perfect fit for me, but it also limits the possibilities for engaging with it in Maine. When I started my search for summer internships in August I realized how few existed in Maine for dramaturgy—or for theatre production in general. I then reached out to DRC directly. They do not put on plays in the summer and therefore do not have standing internships, so I met with the Beylands and proposed ways in which I could assist them. The dearth of preexisting internships ended up serving me well because it led me to customize a position and choose this wonderful group with which to work. From the beginning of my involvement with Year of the Rooster, I felt part of a true community with the artistic team and actors. That experience also clarified beyond doubt that I want to make my career out of this work that brings me such joy and fulfillment. Dramaturgy allows me to apply and connect the sociology and history that I study at Bowdoin. This internship would build on the research skills from my classes, expose me to the body of literature that I will encounter in future positions, and help me master the skills of theatrical write-ups and dramaturgical packets. Its self-designed nature would also give me the flexibility to discover what methods work best for me. Working for DRC this summer, I would learn how to do what I want to spend my life doing.

I would have weekly debriefing meetings with the Beylands but would do the vast majority of my work independently from Brunswick. I believe that my best option would be using Bowdoin’s academic buildings as my workspace, as I know how I can be most productive in them. I would also need to go to the Bowdoin library daily to access scripts. Since I would be working on campus every day, it would be indispensable for me to live here, too, with the benefits of the Career Planning Funded Internship Grant. Living on campus would maximize the efficiency of my time, especially because I will not have access to a car this summer. In addition to productivity and commuting time, the safety and familiarity of Bowdoin would provide a considerable relief to my parents and me this summer. In the past, I have always stayed home during school breaks to assist my father at his surgical practice, as those are his busiest times of year. At this point in my education, though, I would like to spend my summer working toward my post-graduation career with something more relevant to my goals. The DRC internship provides the ideal opportunity for that, and the Career Planning Funded Internship Grant would make it possible for me to take it without resultant financial setbacks. It would also allow me to be in Maine, where I want to live and work after graduation.