Theatre major Jimmy Balistreri ’19 gains experience through internships, competitions

Earlier this month, theatre major Jimmy Balistreri ’19 of Plymouth, Wisconsin, advanced to the finals in the Design, Technolgy and Management competition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 3, in Madison, Wisconsin. He won the Stage Management Fellowship and will attend the national festival in Washington, D.C., later this year.

For nearly all of the summer of 2018 and most of the fall semester, Balistreri gained valuable experience as an intern at Northern Sky Theater in Door County, Wisconsin.

While growing up, he attended many shows at Northern Sky, and, thanks to his familiarity with the company, reached out to artistic director Jeff Herbst and was offered an internment after the application process.

He says the internship was “eye-opening and exciting.” He assisted with rehearsal runs for Northern Sky’s three-show summer season. After rehearsals, Balistreri helped work on lighting.

Another one of the interns was David Firari ’18 of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Although only one of Northern Sky’s interns was a performance intern, all were required to be understudies. Balistreri was one of two who were able to perform as an understudy.

After a show opened, the interns worked together every night to ensure the shows ran smoothly. The crew assembled and broke down sets each night, preset props, ironed, steamed and repaired costumes, parked cars and worked on the headset system backstage for each show.

During the fall, he also helped repair the outdoor theater and helped move the company into its new creative campus, set to open in the fall of 2019.

Balistreri feels the internship has prepared him for post-graduation life. He witnessed first-hand how professional designers and stage managers work, gained practical tips and tricks that have aided him in his growth as a theatrical artist and built long-lasting connections.

“The Wisconsin theater community is fairly small, and getting my foot in the door at Northern Sky has really helped me begin to explore it,” Balistreri says.

Balistreri says Ripon’s theatre department is incredible, thanks to the nurturing and relationship-building from professors. “Being able to do lighting designs for or stage manage realized shows at Ripon has been so rewarding to me.

“Being able to see my work on its feet and to actually learn by doing is something that, at a larger school, wouldn’t be possible,” Balistreri says. “It is really thanks to the staff that we are able to do these projects as students, and I am so grateful for it.”

Dakota Marlega ’21
Waupaca, Wisconsin

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