August 08, 2017

Steven McKnight’s internship at the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre has introduced him to the long days of working in professional theatre—and has him longing for the days of working a job while taking six college classes.

“The work days are long and intense, which was a little bit surprising,” he said. “Days can stretch to 16 hours; some crews work 18 hours on some nights. But, it’s rewarding.”

McKnight, a sophomore theatre studies major from South Abington Township, Pa., is a scenic intern at the summer festival in Logan, Utah, where he is building set pieces for new shows, repairing set pieces for returning shows and working as a stagehand.

He was steered toward the opportunity by Erik Viker, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre. Viker also teaches the course Stagecraft and Production.

“Professor Viker was very encouraging, stating that it was never too early to start internships and get experience,” McKnight said. “If it weren’t for his urging, I likely would not have applied.”

The experience is providing McKnight with a real-life application not only of his stagecraft course, but also of the soft, interpersonal skills he has learned as a student at Susquehanna.

McKnight plans to leverage his internship experience to secure postgraduate work in summer stock or archiving at historical theatres in the United States or Europe. He would like to earn a master’s degree in playwriting, followed by a doctorate in theatre history.

He hopes to work in academia or as an archivist at an historical theatre.

“As theatre develops through time, it reflects the ideals, hopes, dreams and ambitions of the people who create it, through its dialogue, its staging and its standing in society,” McKnight said. “Theatre is and always has been a vital part of the human experience, and through understanding its history I hope to understand and contribute to humanity as a whole.”

See more internships here.