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Monday October 25th

What does a summer in the arts look like? Three UNC students share their experiences

The end of summer marks the beginning of regular schedules and long nights studying for some students returning to UNC, but for others, the fall semester will bring a lightened workload.

UNC studentsGage Tarlton, Martha Bennett and Kathryn Brown chose to spend their summers pursuing their passions and building their resumes with arts-related apprenticeships, internships and experiences. 

Gage Tarlton

Gage Tarlton, a junior dramatic art major, decided to immerse himself in cutting-edge modern theater by participating in an acting apprenticeship with the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts. 

Tarlton’s role in the 10-week-long festival, which showcases seven professional productions each summer, included 16-hour days of house, lighting, scenic and costume shifts, as well as performing in short plays organized by directing interns. 

Tarlton was directly exposed to professional acting insight while taking classes from professors who instruct at programs throughout the country, such as at The Juilliard School and New York University. 

Working long hours during the day and rehearsing late into the night showed Tarlton a new level of intensity in the theater world, and he said he gained valuable insight into his own abilities. 

“It's one of those things that if you survive Williamstown Theatre Festival, then you can survive anywhere in the theater world because it's so intense throughout the entire thing," Tarlton said. “So going back to UNC after completing this program makes me feel like I can do anything, and I have the work ethic to do anything.”

His newfound work ethic isn’t the only thing Tarlton wants to bring back to UNC. 

"Williamstown is really famous for doing a lot of new work and letting people take risks on a professional stage,” he said. “Coming back to UNC, I want to bring back this idea that student theater should be doing new stuff."

Tarlton plans to exercise his new voice as a playwright. He will begin completing the musical theatre writing minor concentration offered by the UNC creative writing program this fall. 

He plans to maintain his involvement in student theater on campus, and he encourages incoming and returning students to try any role they find interesting in student theater.

"Even if you have just a small tug in a direction, then just try it out,” Tarlton said. “Maybe it's for you, maybe it's not, but you might discover that it's something you really love."

Martha Bennett

Martha Bennett, a junior media and journalism and political science major, completed a marketing and public relations internship at the Durham Performing Arts Center that included social media management, performance preparation and brand management.

Bennett said she had an interest in completing an arts-related internship because she has danced since she was 3 years old and has always enjoyed performing. As a ballet company member of the Carolina Style Dance Company, Bennett continues to develop her skills as a performer. 

When Bennett began deciding on what majors she would pursue at UNC, she wanted to combine her love for the arts with her career path. She hopes to become a publicist or work for a firm that produces movies or stage shows.

“Both my passions in the arts and media have really kind of combined, which is awesome, and I've gotten to see how I can use art in everyday life with my future job and media,” Bennett said. “It's not something that I've had to give up, which I'm really thankful for.”

Through her internship with DPAC, Bennett said she learned the entertainment industry offers a lot of opportunities for careers. She said she enjoyed being exposed to different musical artists and a wide variety of performances.

“I think that the arts give us an opportunity to open our minds to things that we aren't used to or comfortable with, and really just to try new things,” Bennett said. “It's a great segue into creating a more diverse world for yourself." 

Kathryn Brown

Kathryn Brown, a sophomore dramatic art major, spent three weeks of her summer in Cullowhee, NC completing the Triple Arts Summer Intensive at Western Carolina University. 

The residential program and workshop was run by artistic directors Charlotte d’Amboise and Terrence Mann, who have extensive acting and Broadway experience and have a combined total of five Tony Award nominations.

Brown and 47 other participants ages 16-22 completed three weeks of vocal workshops, dance workshops and improvisation training that taught them new techniques and ways to approach musical theater. 

Brown worked 12 hours a day with her instructors and peers to create and perform a 90-minute showcase for family, friends and casting directors to watch.

For Brown, this summer experience was about gaining professional insight into the theater world. While she enjoyed strengthening her artistic expression, she acknowledged that it was just as important to make connections in the theater community.

"The dream is New York,” Brown said. “The dream is pursuing professional theater, whether that be at the regional or at the Broadway level. I would love to have the ability to say I'm being paid to do what I love — to empathize with other people and to be recognized for displaying different perspectives in the world."


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