Learning behind the scenes

Four Minot High School students are learning the ropes backstage at the Minot State University Summer Theatre program this summer, and three of them are earning high school credit.

“I enjoy it a lot,” said Hannah Davis, one of the four summer interns, who ran lights for the program’s production of “Shrek” earlier this month. “It’s been a great experience.”

Summer theatre director Chad Gifford said Davis and her classmates, Michaela Burns, Brooke Schaefer and Brenna Heupel, are getting a taste of everything involved in the summer program and will each work in different areas as the summer progresses.

Burns, Schaefer and Davis are receiving high school credit for the summer internship through the Minot High School vocational and technical education department. Credit for the summer internship is only available to students 16 and older so Heupel, who is just 15, is not yet eligible to receive the high school credit, though she is also working as an unpaid intern. All four girls will be juniors at Minot High School-Magic City Campus this fall. Heupel skipped a grade in elementary school.

For the internship, the girls have to keep track of the hours they worked, what they did and the new skills they learned. Gifford said high school students have worked as interns for MSU Summer Theatre in the past, but this is the first time that they have earned high school credit for it through Minot High. Other Minot High students are working as interns and earning high school credit in other businesses this summer too, said Gifford. The Minot Public Schools fund the internships.

The girls have worked in the costume shop, sewing patches onto costumes or cutting out patterns, and have worked in set design.

All but Davis will also act in one of the summer plays.

“I wanted to learn all the backstage stuff,” said Davis.

Gifford said the girls are even getting some experience in management. Each of the girls will be an assistant stage manager for one of the four productions the Summer Theatre program will put on this summer.

The programs have included “Shrek: The Musical,” which ran earlier in June. The next one will be “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which will run Wednesday through Sunday. After that will come “The Nerd,” which runs July 6-10 and finally “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which will close the season and will run July 18-23.

The girls said the productions have been popular this summer. “Shrek” was sold out every night, they said. They think it will be fun for the audiences to attend plays like “Jesus Christ Superstar” that are so well-known.

All of the girls have worked on high school plays, but said working for the summer theatre program has been much different.

“It’s your life in the summer,” said Heupel. “We have to be here pretty much all day, every day.”

Though the internship puts demands on their time and might prevent them from doing things with friends or family this summer, the girls also think it’s worth it.

“It’s worth the stressfulness,” said Heupel.