Guest Blogger Marisha Goldhamer Sherry is a multimedia editor for Agence France Presse and has been a mentor to numerous TFAS students over the past two years. The TFAS Mentor Program, a volunteer program that matches students with DC area professionals, helps students meet professionals like Marisha and gain insight in their field.
When people think of theater they most often think of New York City, but DC’s theater scene should not be overlooked. With hundreds of professional and community theaters in the area, attending or volunteering with a theater is a great way to meet people, and put your budding communications skills to work. Attending theatrical performances will also give you great office conversation starters. Theater is an office-appropriate subject that a co-worker of any age can engage with and it may distinguish you from the other young people in your office.
Young Professionals Night
Many DC area theaters are hoping to cultivate the next generation of theater patrons by offering discount tickets and special “young professional” events to get you interested. Not only will you get to check out quality performances at a cut rate, you’ll also have the chance to meet people in their 20s and 30s who are living and working in DC. It’s a great opportunity to ask people about their experiences at area graduate schools or to glean tips on finding your first DC job.
The Shakespeare Theater has one of the best programs around, but act quickly – tickets sell out fast. http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/YTG.aspx
You can also try opera by joining Generation O at the Washington National Opera. http://www.dc-opera.org/beyondstage/generationo.asp
The simplest way to get involved at many theaters is to sign up to usher a show. As an usher you get a chance to interact with people working professionally for theater companies in the box office and as house mangers. These folks are well equipped to offer a host of tips in crisis management. You’ll also have time to chat with your fellow volunteers and ask about their professional lives.
My husband and I have ushered for four seasons at the Studio Theater. You can get involved by contacting the theater here: http://www.studiotheatre.org/opportunities/usher.php
Let your creative side shine
Ever thought you could write a political satire? With the DC theater group Hexagon, you can. Every year since 1956 a group of volunteers has come together to create a totally original musical, satirical show which seeks to make fun of everything DC. For local news junkies there’s another bonus – each performance includes a guest appearance by noted DC journalists who agree to tell jokes during the show’s “News Break.” You could be writing laugh lines for Leon Harris. All of the proceeds from the show are donated to charity. Get more information at http://www.hexagon.org
Put your PR training to work
Community theaters are often volunteer-run and looking for people with public relations skills to help get the work out about their shows. When you use a little of your free time to help a theater make press connections, the list of media contacts you might be able to use professionally will also have expanded. If your interest is more event-planning oriented, volunteer to help with a gala or special event that a theater is holding to raise money or reward its subscribers.
Here are a few local theaters my friends are involved with:
St. Mark’s Players http://www.stmarksplayers.org
The Arlington Players http://www.thearlingtonplayers.org