Theatre News: Assistant Director Intern Program at the Phoenix

A few days ago I received a press release from Lori Raffel at the Phoenix Theatre. The news was of their new assistant director internship program.

Reading it brought back good, rich memories of my own assistant director experiences at the Phoenix in the late 1980s, before it was a professional theatre with Equity contracts and all that.  I first assisted Bryan Fonseca when he directed “The House of Blue Leaves,” by John Guare, and then “Bouncers,” by John Godber.  Then I assisted Rock Mers when he directed a show called “Nightbreath,” by Dennis Clontz. 

It was a pleasure and a privilge to work with both of these directors.  I learned a lot about myself as well as how to make theatre art.  I also had a wonderful time.

So…this new A.D. internship program sounds very cool.  Congratulations to each of the seven new interns!

Here is the full press release:



Indianapolis – The Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis is working with local universities to provide internships for aspiring directors who seek training with theatre professionals. The project will begin with the first production in calendar year 2011, Norway by Samuel D. Hunter, with guest director Gordon McCall and Kristine Lewis from Franklin College. 

The goal of the program, according to Phoenix Theatre Producing Director Bryan Fonseca, is to mentor individuals who want to direct and provide them with meaningful work at the professional level. Seven students have been selected to serve in the program—the first for the Phoenix—from Butler University and Franklin College. “We have worked with interns for years in marketing, development, costumes and props” says Producing Director Bryan Fonseca, who continues “but this is a program created specifically for students who want to be directors.”

“Each director has a different style of working, so they will have different needs from their respective Assistant Directors,” said Fonseca. “I have encouraged each director to contact their AD to discuss their process and how each of them can best be served by the experience.”

In all cases, the student will be invited to attend auditions, production meetings and any post-production meetings. The program is meant to provide each intern with an all-encompassing introduction to directing. The seven students chosen for the inaugural program, their schools and the play and director with whom they will be working are as follows:

 Production                    Dates                Director         Assistant Director School      

Norway                        January 2011    Gordon McCall Kristine Lewis        Franklin College

Goldie, Max and Milk      February 2011  Bryan Fonseca Chris Ziegler         Butler University

The Storytelling Ability of a Boy              March 2011    Bryan Fonseca      Raphael Schwartzman                Butler University

This                             March-April 2011                   Dale McFadden      Amalia Lynn Howard                        Butler University

The Zippers of Zoomerville                    April-May 2011                          Jack O’Hara                                  Wilford Orme    Franklin College

Avenue Q                     June-July 2011  Bryan Fonseca Megan Fuller         Franklin College

With a Bang                  July-August 2011                   Bryan Fonseca      Lauren Thorne                                  Butler University  

The participants are excited about the program and the opportunity to get “hands on” experience before graduating from their respective schools. Raphael Schwartzman is a senior majoring in Theatre at Butler University and will be AD for The Storytelling Ability of a Boy by Carter W. Lewis. Hailing from Columbus, Indiana, Schwartzman is “excited to participate in this program to further develop (his) directing skills and learn first-hand about the production process of a professional theatre company.” He went on to say that Fonseca’s goal that the AD Interns be fully integrated members of the artistic process was a huge part of his decision to participate.

Chris Ziegler is a Butler University Theatre major from Cincinnati, Ohio and will be AD for Goldie, Max and Milk by Karen Hartman. Ziegler professes to being a fan of the Phoenix Theatre and has “greatly respected and admired (the Phoenix) for quite some time.” Amalia Lynn Howard

(1-1-11 update from Hope – Phoenix staff alerted me to an error in this press release:  The name here should be Kristine Lewis, not Amalia Lynn Howard.)

is a junior and double major in Theatre and Psychology at Butler University.  Originally from Brownsburg, Indiana, Howard “was really excited when I heard about the opportunity to be a part of this program because it provides students with real world experience before they even graduate.” The students are looking forward to seeing how a professional theatre program is conducted and how different or similar it is among theatres and in school.

Lauren E. Thorne, also a theatre major at Butler, is from Bristol, Indiana and wanted to be a part of the AD program as soon as she heard about it. “I’m very excited to be a part of putting With A Bang on stage,” said Thorne, who feels the program offers a step-up into the local professional theatre sphere.

Ticket Prices

All seating is general admission on a first-come, first-served basis and all Thursday tickets are $15, thanks to a grant by Duke Energy; Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances are $25. Young adult tickets – for individuals age 20 and under – are $15 for all performances. Curtain times are: Thursdays at 7pm; Friday and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm.

 Doors open ½ hour prior to curtain for seating. The Phoenix Pub, located inside the theatre, offers beer, wine, soft drinks, coffee, and bottled water, as well as treats, and all refreshments may be taken into the theatre and consumed during the performance.

For more information about any Phoenix productions or to purchase tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 317.635.7529. Tickets may also be purchased online. The theatre’s website is

“The Phoenix Theatre has cornered the market on hip new works.” — Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

The Phoenix Theatre is Indiana’s only professional contemporary theatre, and has presented productions to challenge and entertain the Indianapolis community for 28 years. An Equity house, the Theatre presents the Midwest and Indiana premieres of many popular Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, and has presented more than 82 world premieres in its quarter century. The Phoenix operates the 130-seat proscenium Mainstage as well as the 75-seat cabaret-style black box Frank & Katrina Basile Theatre. Both venues are housed along with administrative offices in a renovated 1907 church in downtown Indianapolis’ historic Chatham Arch neighborhood, part of the Mass Ave Arts & Theatre District. The Phoenix Theatre is a member of the National New Play Network and the League of Indianapolis Theatres, and is supported by the Indiana Arts Commission, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as local corporate and foundation funders and more than 500 individual donors.


I am looking forward to seeing all of these shows, too.

‘See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh – and follow @IndyTheatre on Twitter (one of these days I will figure out how to add the little button to make it easier for you!)

By the way, the photo above is called “My iPad 3G!” and was taken by Robert S. Donovan.  I liked it for this post because a) as an A.D. in the 1980s I always carried a clipboard but b) in (almost) 2011, there are many more options for staying organized!

P.S. – If any of the interns blogs about their experiences, I hope they will tell me so that I can read their blogs!  Amarylliswriter at gmail dot com.

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