Apprenticeship Spotlight: Making Props for Midway Theater Production

By Susan Gettlin | January 21, 2017
by Arianna Kendra’17, candidate for Bachelor of Arts in Art and Pre-Art Therapy, with a Minor in Arts Entrepreneurship and Curatorial Studies

I’ve been working in Arcadia’s Theatre Department costume shop since my first year. Through this job I have learned an unbelievable amount and had the opportunity to work with so many different materials and media. I also worked closely with Prof. Alisa Kleckner, who wrote the puppet show Midway. Prof. Kleckner allowed me to read an early draft of the script, and I immediately fell in love with it, and wanted to help with it in any way I could. Together, we came decided that I should design and build the props as my apprenticeship for my Minor in Arts Entrepreneurship and Curatorial Studies.

I want to share a quote from my final apprenticeship blog entry: “I’ve thought a lot about what I have gained from the experience. I think when I initially signed up to do this apprenticeship I expected to grow as an artist. Which I have a lot. I’ve learned all sorts of technology and new materials and problem solved myself out of a million corners I backed myself into first. But more than growing as an artist I’ve grown as a person. This felt like a real job, that I could have outside of this comfortable little bubble of college. I had to act like a leader and as a boss. I had to delegate and schedule and prioritize and find a balance of not getting too overwhelmed but still getting everything done. I saw the less whimsical side of life as an artist. I learned that it is hard—like really hard—like one of the most challenging things that I have ever done (and my life seems to be full of challenges). But I loved it. I would do it again in a heartbeat… maybe not my next heartbeat, because I would like a little break first, but you get the idea.

The best part of my apprenticeship was the sheer mass of things I was able to accomplish, and the great big beautiful thing it all led up to. I had no idea how much work it was going to be. It was almost double the amount of hours that I needed to do for credit, but I worked so hard at it because I loved the story and the people I got to work with everyday. As an artist it was an amazing experience because I got to make things every day, everything was entirely new to me, and everything required problem solving and learning. I experienced numerous small failures throughout the experience, but I hold them dear, because I had to fix them all, and that’s where the majority of learning happens. 

The hardest part of the apprenticeship goes hand in hand with what was the best part. The apprenticeship was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. People were constantly depending on me. There was a lot of pressure and stress. It required loads of organization and considerable time management skills. It extended far beyond art skills. But, again, it was as challenging as it was because I loved it, and cared about making something worthwhile. My advice for other students considering taking on an apprenticeship is it is what you put into it. If you bring enthusiasm and excitement into what you are working on, you will get exciting results.