To celebrate 30 years of Fishamble, we are publishing a series of blog posts focusing on the everyday experiences of our staff, colleagues and collaborators. We continue our series with a post by Fishamble's most recent Literary Assistant, Zachary Heygood.
Fishamble Theatre Company produces and develops most of the new works throughout Ireland. The have performed shows across the world in hundreds of venues. They receive hundreds of new paly submissions every year, my primary job here was Literary Assistant. That title made me feel special, not just an intern but the Literary Assistant, so professional. I was in charge of reading, recording and analyzing the new play submissions. I had to believe it’s almost over, where does the time go? I guess as they say, time flies when you’re having fun.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would be doing and helping theatre in Ireland, I wouldn’t have believed you. I remember trying to set up this internship up and thinking I had no idea what I was doing and I was going to mess everything up. Gavin and I talked back and forth over email for a while and tried to establish a time to have a phone conversation, but it was tricky due to the time zone difference. When we finally got a time that worked, it was at 7 am Mountain time so it could be 2 pm Irish time. I ended up waking at 6:45, setting up my laptop and a note book with questions and then called him at 7. We were on the phone for about 15 minutes where he told me I had the internship, then I immediately went back to sleep until 8 to get ready for class. I then had to wait like 4 months before I finally arrived in Ireland.
I was lucky enough to get three days in Dublin before my internship began. We arrived on Saturday the 2nd of June, but I didn’t start until the Tuesday the 5th because the 4th was a Bank Holiday. This allowed me to go into the city and begin to understand it before I had to deal with the hustle and bustle of the daily work rush. The first day was finally upon me, and I had no idea what to expect, but I was there bight eyed and bushy tailed. I knew that I would be reading plays but I wasn’t entire sure what that was going to entail. Let’s just say, the first day was daunting to say the least. I walk in and get shown around and receive a history of Irish theatre, and how Fishamble was established. I remember having a hard time understanding what Gavin was saying due to his accent. Then I am given ten plays that I am supposed to read by Friday in order to get an understanding of the style of plays they are looking for. One of the days, I went to a coffee shop and read plays outside, I felt like such a tourist. When I came in that Friday, we discussed the plays I read and began to go over what exactly I was going to be doing day to day.
Throughout my time here, I read twenty-two plays and wrote reports and letters for each of them. I will say, some plays were better than others. That being said, I read each one to its fullest and gave each their best chance. It was great because I felt so important, I wasn’t just doing small things and meaningless tasks, I was working on a project that needed to get done, and I became clear that Fishamble trusted me and my judgement to read these new plays. My first report was stressful. I tried to copy a previous one that the last intern did. Understandably, Gavin was very vigilant of the first report to make sure I understood what I was supposed to doing. However, as the weeks progressed, I could tell he began to trust my judgement which made me feel accomplished. Out of all the plays I read, there were some great ones, but also a few that I wasn’t a huge fan of. But Gavin could tell immediately after reading my reports my opinions on each of the plays. I guess my tone, even in just reading it, was pretty apparent and hard to hide. Due to the large amount of submission Fishamble gets every year, they can only produce a handful of them. Therefore, after most of the plays I have had to write a letter to each of the playwrights telling them what I like about the play, what, if they were to revise this play, improvement could be made, and that I’m very sorry but Fishamble will not be producing this play. However, one day there was a play that Gavin and I both agreed was intriguing for an Irish audience and the style that Fishamble is looking for. So, we invited him to come in a have a meeting with us to discuss what his intentions for his play. It was a nice change of pace.
During my last two week, I was given the opportunity to help with rehearsals for a play that Fishamble is producing for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. I spent the first hour or so of my day, working with the actors to memorize their lines. I felt like I was back in a familiar situation in the rehearsal process of a show. Although I have dedicated a year and a half to learn all about each of the elements of theatre it takes to do a show in order to understand the importance of what everyone does and have a better appreciation of them and their work, it felt good to get back to my roots for a bit.
All in all, this whole experience has been better than I could have imagined. The ability to see the process of what it takes to put on a show in the preparation stage. I don’t normally join the team until the rehearsals start or as early as casting, but this is the decision stage. Seeing all the work that goes into a show before anyone even joins the team. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Zachary Heygood is studying at the University of Colorado.
Fishamble: The New Play Company is supported by