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Managing Down Under
Sydney Kuhlman, a senior musical theatre and international theatre production major from Ada, Ohio, caught a glimpse of her future this past summer. She did so by taking a rather long route - traveling halfway across the world after accepting an internship in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Kuhlman received this golden hands-on opportunity to travel to the pacific island country after being offered a two-month summer internship by Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology to stage-manage a show titled "Side Show."
"I found out about the internship through the National Association for Singing and Dramatic Arts," says Kuhlman. "When I arrived, I found out that I did not have an actual theatre to work in; rather, I had a converted classroom the size of the Stambaugh Studio Theatre at ONU."
Because the space they were using for the show was an old classroom, Kuhlman explains, there were no control booths. Stage-managing a show requires the full control of what happens in a theatre. The stage manager calls the show action in a precise fashion, where nothing happens unless the SM decides it will before and during the show.
"We actually did the show with me sitting a few feet above the people in the back row, calling only the absolute necessary cues for running the show."
But Kuhlman did not let the normal difficulties that plague a show bother her.
"I was amazed to find that people in New Zealand don't stress about every little detail. They are extremely laid back. The people I worked with were definitely great at what they did, but never stressed."
"We had one tech guy who was absolutely amazing," she continues. "I would propose a change after rehearsals, and this person would have a set changed or a curtain moved by rehearsal the next day."
After working with individuals from another culture, Kuhlman brought back many lessons to share with her fellow ONU students.
"One of the most important things I learned on this trip is that you have to experience other cultures. You have to broaden your horizons, and ONU provides opportunities by encouraging students to travel abroad to experience ways of life different from their own. The University even helps find them."
Professor Nils Riess, chair of ONU's Department of Communication Arts, agrees. "These international experiences are the foundation of our program. They allow students to become 'Northern.'"
Junior communication arts major from West Jefferson, Ohio