Elizabeth Champlin wanted a unique, hands-on internship during the summer of 2013 that would test her theatrical knowledge, production skills and physical and mental stamina. The senior arts administration major with a concentration in music expected to apply her Waynesburg University education and experience to a theatrical troupe – preferably in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area.
She didn’t expect to hop in a truck and travel everywhere from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Raleigh, N.C., with Squonk Opera, an award-winning, highly acclaimed and internationally touring theater group founded in Pittsburgh. According to Champlin, Squonk’s roadshow is on a truck, and everything, including the stage, folds out of the truck. She enjoyed being a part of the “interesting and innovative show” and won the praise of her internship supervisor along the way.
“Elizabeth accomplished a lot when she helped Squonk tour to North Carolina,” said Steve O’Hearn, artistic director at Squonk and Champlin’s summer supervisor. “She was helpful during a busy time for Squonk Opera, was pleasant to chat with, did tough jobs and even brought cookies!”
Not only did Champlin assist with theater production and management, but she also aided in the promotion of the opera. Citing her Waynesburg University public relations for the arts course as a helpful tool, Champlin sent newsletters, mailed postcards and helped her supervisor book shows.
“I realized that 100 people may not even open my email, but when I saw the 30 that did, it helped me to narrow my viewpoint and find the exact audience we were looking for,” Champlin said.
Her public relations and marketing efforts helped to secure bookings and bring people to the shows, while her active involvement with Waynesburg's Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Lamplighters Concert Choir and Yellow Jacket Pep Band familiarized her with Squonk’s musical offerings. Experience assisting with the production of campus events allowed Champlin to keep calm under internship pressure.
“I wanted to help out with a theater group or company, and I wanted to see if I could handle being a part of a production team,” Champlin said. “I got to be active and use my hands and not just sit at a desk. It helped keep my attention and get me involved in a totally different way than other internships for which I might have applied. Squonk is a close-knit family, much like Waynesburg University. Everyone knew my name, and I liked that.”