This one stretches the definition of “job” because I never received any compensation. However, this gig is directly responsible for me ending up in Staunton, so it certainly is worth a mention.
I got this job through twitter, circa 2014 back when the character limit was still 140. Ah the good old days. Through a series of retweets, a call for stories of seeing David Tennant do Shakespeare came across my feed and I happened to have a very unlucky series of events leading up to my best friend and I getting to a screening of his Richard II with the RSC. I submitted, the editor liked it, published it, and asked if I wanted to do any more writing. Reader, I said yes.
Over the next year or so I used my status as the US Staff Writer for Shakespeare Magazine to score press tickets to shows and to conduct interviews with creatives, not all of which went to print. Regardless, it was an amazing experience. I also wrote copy for “news” stories about current Shakespeare events, most which also didn’t make it to print. Regardless, the editor gave me lots of feedback, and new British slang, like “stroppy” (it means pissy).
I got an advanced copy of Juliet’s Nurse and interviewed the author. The book was a big stepping stone on my journey to loving Romeo & Juliet.
I saw both parts of the Shakespeate Theatre Company’s Henry IV productions with Matthew Amendt as Hal and got to interview Amendt. I was working at my undergrad library over the summer and used a lunch break and the abandoned writing center offices to conduct the interview. My favorite was as soon as Amendt realized I had seen the shows he wanted to know what I thought. Really lovely.
I saw STC’s As You Like It directed by Michael Attenborough and staring Zoe Waites. I wept like a baby during the final scene. I interviewed Michael Attenborough at approximately midnight his time and he held the camera phone at a very low angle as he lounged at his house and answered all of my silly Shakespeare questions. I sent Zoe Waites a series of interview questions and she recorded her answers while waiting to board a flight somewhere.
I saw Hudson Valley Shakespeare’s productions of Winter’s Tale and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and interviewed the cast. The five person Midsummer is too this day the best small scale show I have ever seen. It dramatically altered my idea of what Shakespeare looked like. About 30 percent of the audience walked out of the show the night I was there. The cast called it “Not Shakespeare over your head, but Shakespeare between your legs.” Winter’s Tale was good too.
And of course, I saw the American Shakespeare Center’s production of Macbeth with James Keegan as the title role. I came to town and interviewed the artistic director and the founder Ralph Alan Cohen. I fell in love with the town and I came back less than a year later for grad school and I haven’t left yet.
Once in grad school, I didn’t have the time to set up interviews and revise articles, so my work with Shakespeare Mag fell to the wayside. But it was an incredible experience and deeply formative not only in exposing me to lots of good theatre, but also in that it taught me how to think about theatre critically and trust my gut reaction. And it made me a better writer.
After earning an English degree, I was very much bogged down in weighty mediocre MLA style writing. Learning how to write like a journalist made me more concise and precise in my writing.
And finally, it taught me that Shakespeare People are overwhelmingly Good People. Every person I interviewed and interacted with was so kind, generous, and thrilled about theatre, that I knew studying and continuing to work with Shakespeare would be a good thing. And it was.