State children’s theatre provides Ripon students with real-world experience

Crystal Fercy ’19 of Appleton, Wisconsin, and Bailey Jerrick ’20 of Stoughton, Wisconsin, spent last summer in Madison, Wisconsin, with the former earning a fellowship position and the latter interning as a teaching assistant at the Children’s Theatre of Madison.

Both are involved in the current Ripon College theatre production of “Tartuffe,” running through Saturday in Benstead Theatre, C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts.

Fercy was one of two students selected statewide for CTM’s summer fellowship program. After learning of Fercy’s fellowship, Jerrick looked into other available internships at CTM, and after a Skype interview with CTM’s education department, was one of only a dozen selected for her position.

“I had a wonderful experience as a fellow,” says Fercy. “I was able to design and build my own sets, with my mentor Ryan (the Technical Director at CTM) there for help and advice if I needed it.”

The independence of designing shows proved to be a challenge for Fercy at first, but she soon learned how to manage her time and energy. Fercy, who designed three shows over the summer, had three week intervals between shows to design the next, all while loading in the current show to the stage.

“During the fellowship, CTM arranged for professional designers and techies (technicians) to come in and talk about their work in theatre,” Fercy says. “The other fellow and I were able to see their designs and ask questions. We were also able to have a scene painting class at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which I enjoyed greatly.”

Jerrick’s teaching assistant duties varied depending on which class she was involved in, and ranged from running theatre games and activities, to teaching music and helping children develop their character into the music. She also worked on hair and makeup for musical productions.

“I haven’t gotten a chance to work in the children’s theatre side of theater before,” says Jerrick. “It was really cool to be able to work with kids and help them learn about what I had just learned in college, as I didn’t have the opportunity to take a lot of theatre classes growing up.”

Fercy finds the feeling of confidence she gained to be the most rewarding aspect of her fellowship. “The confidence I gained in my skills will certainly help me down the road,” she says. Fercy’s skills certainly have paid off, as she recently advanced to the finals of the Design, Technology and Management (DTM) competition and won an honorable mention for her scenic design for the play “Paragon Springs.”
Jerrick also values the confidence she gained, and says “Being at CTM gave me a lot more confidence that, no matter what I do in theatre, I won’t fail. I’ll find something I love to do. It’s solidified my love for theatre.”

Fercy enjoys her time in the theatre department at Ripon College, and loves seeing the work of herself and others coming together into the finished product of a show. “It’s a great feeling to sit back and say, ‘Hey, we did that!’. The more involved I am, the greater the feeling of pride.” Fercy says.

“I think it’s that we have such an ability to work on both the acting and technical side of theatre that makes Ripon College theatre so rewarding,” Jerrick says. “I can go in on Mondays and hang lights, work on set design and paint, and then the next day I can go to rehearsal for the show I’m in– all in the same week.”

“Another plus is how many people you get to meet at Ripon, and the friends you make,” Fercy adds. “The theatre department is open and accepting, and the people are great!”

Dakota Marlega ’21
Waupaca, Wisconsin

(Photo: Bailey Jerrick ’20, left, and Crystal Fercy ’19)

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