Olney Theatre Center believes that arts education plays an essential role in our nation’s cultural health. That’s why in addition to our arts integration program, we offer apprenticeships. The apprenticeship program is a year-long experience intended to offer emerging theater artists a bridge between university and the profession. For one year, 16 apprentices live and work on OTC’s campus in every facet of the organization. Meet our Education Apprentice, Turner Hitt!
Hometown: Leesburg, GA, a small farming town three hours south of Atlanta. (American Idol fans may know it as the hometown of Phillip Phillips, and baseball fans may know it as the town that Buster Posey is from.)
What is the path that brought you to OTC?
I graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, in May 2018 with a double major in Drama and Educational Studies. My experiences there instilled in me a huge passion for community building through theatre, and so I was applying to a bunch of education apprenticeships across the country. Olney hired me super fast and from my interviews and from reading the website, I accepted super fast so I could enjoy the last few months of senior year without the stress of having to deal with the job search on top of midterms/finals, and it's been a blast!
What are you working on right now?
So many things! I'm working on finishing up my capstone (more on that later), preparing for our final Arts Integration Performance tomorrow (not only on the OTC admin/logistical side, but as a lead teaching artist for one of the classrooms), and developing/implementing on-the-go a devised theatre curriculum/performance with eighth graders at a local middle school over the next few weeks. I'm also trying to catch up on all the filing and emails that tend to pile up in these busy times--there's hardly ever a dull day!
What is something you are looking forward to?
I only have 2.5 weeks left at this point, but I'm looking forward to finishing all these big projects that have been months in the making. It feels like a nice way to wrap up my time here. I'm also definitely looking forward to this devised theatre curriculum I've been able to do in partnership with a local theatre teacher at Loiederman Middle School--OTC connected me with this teacher and I've been more or less unofficially student teaching since February. The teacher wanted to do devised theatre but didn't have a lot of experience with it, which I did from college, so we've worked together to develop a curriculum and the kids are putting up a show on some pretty tough topics that they'll present to their peers and to administrators! My favorite part of working in theatre education is finding the ways in which kids can embrace and use their voice creatively and feel confident that they have something to say and can be heard.
What are you doing for your Capstone?
It's still ongoing! Part of my apprenticeship is working with and supporting the National Players, which is the longest-running educational touring company in America, based at OTC for the last 70 years. A lot has changed over the last few years in terms of how the players approach the workshops they do, so I've been working on creating a framework for their workshops that serves as a reference for them as they create their own lesson plans. Because the players go all over the country and work with so many populations of varying levels, it's important that they feel secure in what the workshops are at least trying to do.
What's special about Olney Theatre Center?
So many things! I think my favorite is definitely how it feels like a small, tight-knit community. I know pretty much everyone who works here and everyone is super approachable, and it's been nice to feel like I'm acknowledged rather than just some small cog in a larger machine that doesn't have access to other departments and senior staff. And my fellow apprentices have been a wonderful social network and housemates that have helped me feel more solid in this tumultuous post-grad time. Living and working together definitely has had its challenges, but at the end of the day I have a built in support network which has been so invaluable.
What's your favorite spot on campus?
There's this small power room off to the side of our historic stage with nothing in it but the taken-out seat of the company's cargo van. It's my go-to spot because it's one of the few places on campus where I'm able to really be by myself without worrying that someone is going to pass by. It's also always the perfect temperature, in my opinion. Finding places to be alone can be tricky here so I'm glad to have found it!