I Had to Shlep to Kmart, but This Internship Made a Theater Career Feel Real
Ariel Gitlin follows in Amy Poehler’s footsteps.
Drew Magazine intern Kathryn McMillan ’13 gets right to the point with theatre arts major and former Upright Citizens Brigade summer intern Ariel Gitlin ’13.
KM: Did you meet anyone famous?
AG: I met a lot of people who are really well respected in the improv scene in New York. So I wasn’t sitting down and having lunch with Amy Poehler (a founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade), but I got to see her perform. I also got to take improv classes. My teacher was John Murray and he was one of the silent writers on 30 Rock. And I got to tell Bobby Moynihan from SNL that he had a great show one night. He is such a fantastic performer and I got to see him do improv at the place where he learned to do improv.
KM: That’s cool.
AG: The really cool thing is that most of the professional performers there took the same classes I was taking. They have pictures on the walls of old teams and one of my jobs was to reframe them. I was seeing people working there now back when they were on teams at the theater.
KM: How did you afford New York City?
AG: If you get a theater internship you can apply for the Patenaude Grant. It’s something really, really great that the theater department does, and I hope they have it forever. You submit a budget for what you’ll need over the summer. It paid my rent. I was very, very lucky. Go theater department!
KM: Do you have any crazy stories?
AG: I got to witness pretty crazy audience members, but I would say the most fun was helping with the UCB marathon. I remember me and one other intern, Lizzy, were sent to Kmart to get things for it, like coolers. We were rolling these huge coolers down the streets of Chelsea, and sweating. At one point we had to push carts of beer to the theater, a lot of beer because a lot of beer is involved with improv shows.
KM: What was the best thing about the internship?
AG: I wasn’t paid, but I got free access to all the UCB shows. The best part was being so close to the theater and getting to see a show every night if I wanted to. Being in the city makes you more available for things, especially in theater. I got to work on two friends’ shows in festivals because I was in the city.
KM: You’re centered where you should be.
AG: I’m from Rhode Island. My whole life I would go down to New York to see theater, but when you’re living there you can actually do it. There are other places to do theater, but being in New York was definitely a good artistic experience.
KM: Do you want to move to the city after you graduate?
AG: Yes. I want to keep taking classes at UCB. I’ve taken level 101 and 201 and I want to work in theater. There’s a good Drew network there, too, so I don’t feel like I’m going out into the great big wild. I do, but at least there will be people around.
KM: There’s definitely a lot of Drew people in the city.
AG: Definitely a lot of Drew theater people.
KM: Did you work with any other college students?
AG: There were a bunch of interns. A really great group of people. We worked in the office during the day and sometimes at night we would get together and do improv jams and we’d practice together. We formed a group and we brought ourselves to Monday nights at UCB in the East Village—they have something called Bring Your Own Team. You can just show up and put your group name in a bucket and perform. We performed as The Interns or something. I met people who were into the same stuff I was and could teach me so much about it.
KM: What made you want to come to Drew?
AG: The theatre arts department. I remember I visited and sat in the directing lab and I just felt like I could see myself sitting there, which I do a lot now.
KM: Did the internship change you?
AG: Doing this internship showed me that I could make a career out of something that I really love. It also calmed my nerves because I saw people working professionally and I saw how they got there, so it made working in theater less of a pipe dream and more of a—
AG: A reality. Yeah.