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Learning on the job at Riverside

September 2013

Senior Molly Conrad went to Iowa City this past summer with few expectations from the Riverside Theatre in the Park apprenticeship. Conrad has studied theatre at St. Ambrose for three years while taking part in community theatre shows around the Quad Cities. This past summer was her first experience working with a professional company and helped her feel better prepared and motivated to pursue a future career in this field.

The 14th summer season at Riverside Theatre in the Park consisted of a 14-actor professional company and an 8-actor apprentice company. (Pictured at right are Molly Conrad 2nd row far left, Sidney Junk first row center.) Artistic directors Jody Hovland and Ron Clark auditioned and interviewed around 150 candidates, finally settling on eight acting apprentices, as well as a stage management and directing apprentice. Molly Conrad happily took the position as the directing apprentice.

"From day one," Conrad said, "I knew this would be a huge learning experience for me. I was honored to be chosen among such talented people, and was able to take something from each company member."

Conrad was not the only one from St. Ambrose University to have this opportunity. Senior Sidney Junk was selected as the stage management apprentice.

"I learned about the difficulties that arise when working on shows in rep, having equity actors and non-equity actors working in the same shows, and dealing with changing locations suddenly," Junk said.

Riverside Theatre in the Park initially had plans to perform at the Festival Stage, an outdoor theatre that, due to flooding, was unavailable this summer. The tight-knit company did not let the major location change spoil their season.

The productions–Hamlet (directed by Associate Artist Kristin Horton, New York) and The School for Scandal (directed by Associate Artist Theodore Swetz, Kansas City) received high praise from the reviews of theatre critics, and the process was one Conrad and Junk will never forget.

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