An Intern, a Bird, and a Ukulele

Posted on November 07, 2015

We began the 2015-2016 Season with Stupid Fucking Bird by Aaron Posner. We Interns received our assignments back in July, and I was immediately both excited and terrified to be understudying the role of Mash, the cynical, gothically-clad character with exactly three ukulele songs. You see, I have owned a ukulele for several years now, and never truly learned to play it. I haven’t sung in front of an audience larger than an audition room since high school. After reading the script, I even went back to my resume to make sure I hadn’t misled Freddie by putting “Uklele Player” on my Special Skills. I hadn’t. So it looked like I was going to learn to play the ukulele.

I met my incredible “Overstudy,” Rhyn Saver at Oglethorpe University (where AE uses some rehearsal space) when the Interns were auditioning for Sweeney Todd. With her cool, dark-haired pixie cut and her Stupid F***ing Bird script, I was pretty sure she had to be Mash. She revealed that she, too, had never played the ukulele, and was perhaps just as nervous as I about the whole thing. Good. I wasn’t alone.

Really, a majority of the company rehearsals as an understudy involved sitting and listening and taking notes and knowing exactly where your Overstudy is at all times! But sitting. It was fascinating and educational to watch the professional company work with Freddie, but as an actor you always want to do something. I wanted to put my character on her feet! That’s what made us all giddy to start Intern rehearsals. We Interns still didn’t really know each other or what we could do, and with the intern cast and crew of SFB including 9 out of 12 of the 2015-2016 Intern Company, this was our chance! I learned so much about my fellow understudies through the process, and cannot put into words the talent that surrounds me in this company!

During the run of the show, the seven members of the understudy company made up the Run Crew. Our Stage Manager Alicia Quirk wanted us to know the ins and outs of every position on Run Crew, so instead of receiving one assignment for the entire run of the show, we rotated for every performance. My personal favorite assignment was always Pre-Show Wardrobe Duty, as I used to work in the Costume Shop at my alma mater, and have always preferred working with costumes. Other duties included Stage Right and Stage Left Headset, Bartending, Consumables (dealing with the large amount of real food and consequent dishes that the show involved), and “Floater” (which tended to involve moving a lot of furniture). Between staying late for Intern Rehearsals and still trying to learn the ukulele, I often found it difficult to keep track of it all, but we made it work!

Our Intern Performance came and went with excellent reviews! I honestly didn’t make it through a single song without forgetting something, but I made it through every song. Perhaps to some, the name “Intern Performance” may sound like a half-finished “Showing” of sorts, but to us this was our play, and we were all in! One night only! It was a night I will be eternally proud of, and one I will never forget.

--Sarah Turner Davis