Internship experience puts Fine Arts students over the moon

picture of delicate stain glass with a image of a Bee and a Bat on it

Two students from York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts are engaged in an exciting experiential education initiative as part of the Faculty’s ongoing partnership with Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Third-year theatre production major Julia Morgan and fourth-year dance student Emma Letki are interning as stage manager and assistant stage manager, respectively, for the world premiere production of Everything Under the Moon, opening at Harbourfront Feb. 18.

Co-created by renowned visual and performance artist Shary Boyle and singer-songwriter Christine Fellows, the show re-imagines a traditional shadow play, telling a fantastical, epic adventure story through hand-animated projected images and narrative song. Blurring the lines between musical theatre and visual spectacle, it integrates multiple overhead projectors, costumes and puppets as well as an original score performed on xylophone, timpani, wurlitzer, ukulele, cello, trumpet, percussion and voice. Working with all these elements offers the stage management interns a wide range of challenges and experiences.

An image from Everything Under the MoonAn image from Everything Under the Moon

“We’re all really excited about the show,” said Morgan. “Shary [Boyle] and Christine [Fellows] are both extremely talented, and lovely to work with. I couldn’t ask for a better internship experience.”

These internships are the latest component in a series of collaborations arising from the partnership launched in 2010 by York’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Harbourfront Centre to create opportunities for dialogue and exchange between emerging and established artists. That year, Toronto-based performance collective Urbanvessel visited York to present a hands-on lecture-demonstration related to their production at Harbourfront Centre. Acclaimed UK performance artist Adrian Howells gave a three-day workshop on campus for fine arts students in 2011. Up next, Antoine Vereecken of the UK’s Random Dance company will present a masterclass for York dance students.

Third-year theatre production major Julia Morgan (left) and fourth-year dance student Emma LetkiThird-year theatre production major Julia Morgan (left) and fourth-year dance student Emma Letki

Everything Under the Moon is the first project that reverses the direction, bringing York students downtown for a hands-on work/learn experience on a Harbourfront Centre show.

Fine Arts alumnus Sky Fairchild-Waller (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘09, BA ‘10) coordinated Morgan and Letki’s internships as part of his role as artistic director intern for performing arts at Harbourfront Centre. Working closely with Tina Rasmussen, director of Harbourtfront’s performing arts program, Fairchild-Waller helped bring Morgan and Letki on board, scheduled their involvement in the project and has been serving as off-site liaison throughout.

Sky Fairchild WallerSky Fairchild Waller

Everything Under the Moon has continued to evolve during rehearsals, giving Morgan and Letki a ring-side seat in the development process.  “Observing Shary and Christine’s work process has been so interesting and enjoyable,” said Letki. “It’s amazing to see how such great collaboration works from the inside.”

While the demands of school on top of the internship create a lot of pressure, both students are grateful for the opportunity and would recommend it to others in a heartbeat.

“I want as much theatre experience as I can get before I graduate, and I think it’s important to get involved outside of school,” said Morgan. “Going out and working with professional artists and practitioners is a huge learning opportunity. As well as being beneficial to my future career, it’s a lot of fun. And it counts towards my degree!”

“For me, this experience illustrates so well the benefits of grabbing the opportunities that come your way,” said Letki. “It would have been easy to skip applying for the internship. I’m so happy that I went for it. I’ve learned so much.”

Everything Under the Moon runs Feb. 18 to 23 as part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage series at the Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay West. Tickets are $15 ($10 for children 12 and under) and are available at the Harbourfront Box Office. Call 416-973-4000.