New Festival Fellowship gives Students Strong Stage Footing

Published: August 15, 2014 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Joshua Hopkins and Tatem Trotter as Featured Performers in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2014 production of The Greenshow.The Utah Shakespeare Festival has created a new internship experience for Southern Utah University undergraduates. The Festival Fellowship Program provided SUU students an opportunity to immerse themselves in professional theatre while gaining credit towards their degree. Participating in the inaugural year are Henry Ballesteros, Madison Ford, Josh Hopkins, Amber James, Trevor Messenger, Kristy Dennett, Errin Gropp, Kristy Koslowski, Ryan Turpin, and Jacob Whitney.

the Festival's Artistic Directors Brian Vaughn and David Ivers have wanted to develop the Fellowship program for years, but there weren’t enough resources within the Festival. Southern Utah University and Provost Brad Cook, provided additional support to bring this program to life for the University's students.

The 10 SUU students to intern this inaugural year either worked in the technical shops, building the shows, or acted in the Greenshow and understudied main stage productions. Each received school credit while working alongside professional actors and technicians who mentored them throughout the summer. Ivers, who has experienced firsthand professional theatre's competitive climb to the top, has said this new partnership will provide provide students "the experience and learning essential towards their careers.”

Amber James, entering her third year in the BFA classical acting program, has been a long time fan of the Festival. When she was approached by her academic advisor about being part of the Fellow’s program she jumped at the chance. “As an actor, one of the best ways to learn is by watching other actors. Being able to attend rehearsals and learn first hand from the amazing Festival company will be an invaluable part of my education,” said James.

Errin Gropp, who just finished her second year at SUU, is earning her Technical Theatre degree with an emphasis in Stage Management. She worked with the backstage scenic crew. When asked why she decided to be a part of this program she said “I wanted to gain real world experience in my field, meet people who already are doing technical theatre as a living and gain knowledge from them about things maybe not taught in an education setting.”

Provost Brad Cook explains, “The Festival Fellowship Program is one of hundreds of ways SUU is trying to provide relevant, applied experience for students to connect with their future communities of practice and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills and clarify values. Experiential learning is also referred to as learning through action, learning by doing, learning through experience, and learning through discovery and exploration. The students who go into the Festival Fellowship Program will have an incredible advantage in their next stage of life, whether that is graduate education or employment.”

The Festival Fellowship Program will allow students to bridge the gap between educational and professional theatre. These Fellows not only grew as students this summer but they received hands on experience that will open many doors after they graduate.

Tickets are on sale for the Festival’s 53rd season, which will run until October 18, 2014. The eight-play season includes Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, The Comedy of Errors, Henry IV Part One, and Twelfth Night. The season will also include the world premiere adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility written by Joseph Hanreddy and J. R. Sullivan, Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Steven Dietz’s adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, and Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti. For more information and tickets visit or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.

Photo Credit: Joshua Hopkins and Tatem Trotter as Featured Performers in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2014 production of The Greenshow. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2014.) News Graphic: A scene from The Greenshow, 2014. (Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival. (Photo by Karl Hugh.)

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