By Shannon Boklaschuk
Although she is still pursuing her undergraduate degree, University of Saskatchewan student Judith Schulz already has some impressive professional work experience to add to her resume.
Schulz, who is studying in the College of Arts and Science’s Department of Drama, served as an assistant costume designer in advance of the launch of the 2018 Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival. Working under the direction of U of S professor Carla Orosz, Schulz helped to research, create and manage the costume design for the annual festival’s production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
“It was so easy to come to work,” said Schulz, who valued the assistantship experience and noted that her goal was to gain as much knowledge as possible and to hone as many skills as she could.
“There’s lots of stuff to learn. There’s lots of wonderful mentors.”
Schulz has long wanted to be a part of theatre in some way and is currently working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre design. When asked what she likes about theatre, Schulz noted that “you can tell stories. You can show things that both exist and don’t exist in the real world.”
While she recently enjoyed stage managing the student-produced plays Murder is Fun! and Macbeth, having the opportunity to work with a professional production helped Schulz see what her career could look like following graduation. As Orosz’s assistant, Schulz was involved in variety of tasks, from fabric shopping and fittings to attending meetings and communicating with other members of the show’s cast and crew.
Schulz now has some advice for other students who may be taking part in similar internships: “Don’t shut down an idea,” she said, and “be open to whatever’s thrown your way.”
The Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan internship was made possible through funding from the Office of the Vice-President Research, which is available to support Undergraduate Student Research Assistantships. In a document detailing the student assistantship, Orosz noted it is only through practical experience that emerging artists can work on their skills.
“This project gives the student the opportunity to exercise the theories and skills learned in the classroom and put them to use,” she stated.
Orosz, who has worked with Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan previously, said the festival’s latest version of The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Greg Ochitwa, was altered to take place in 2018 at a high-end resort called The Windsor. The resort is run by the fictional Page family and is frequently visited by the character Falstaff. Falstaff is played by Saskatoon actor Joshua Beaudry, who also trained in the U of S Department of Drama.
Orosz noted it was her job, as costume designer for The Merry Wives of Windsor, to assist the director in bringing the story to life.
“It is our goal for the audience to connect to these characters, to see the humour in the them and, in the end, self-reflect,” she stated.
Orosz wants to help U of S drama students find employment, noting her third- and fourth-year students also had behind-the-scenes roles with the 2018 Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival. Orosz had also taught Schulz—who recently completed her second year of studies—and knew she would make a great assistant costume designer.
“I know her work ethic,” Orosz said.
Will Brooks, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan’s artistic producer, said that as an organization that serves the community, it is part of the festival’s responsibility to support theatre students and to help them work in the professional world. Both the students and the festival benefit from this arrangement.
“We benefit by being exposed to the new ideas and being directly connected to the students coming out (of the university). We get firsthand knowledge of their skills and where they can succeed in making a better Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan in future years. Their work on the festival makes our shows better and helps us put on great shows for the public,” said Brooks.
“They benefit by learning from our mentors and seeing how those artists make the work come to fruition. They get hands-on experience in a major Saskatchewan arts institution and they get to know people who will be able to help their careers once they graduate,” he added.
The Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival began on July 4 and runs until Aug. 19.