Emma Sullivan is the Assistant Stage Manager for the STAR Academy summer programs.
I didn’t expect to end up where I have. Four years ago, walking into the Gulfshore Playhouse office for the first time, I was strictly a writer learning how to write plays from people at a theatre I had never been to before. In a year of Gulfshore’s STARWrights program, I saw my first straight play, wrote my first play, met playwrights at the New Works festival, and met six other Naples students who loved to write. The day the My Fair Lady cast read my script to an audience remains one of the best days of my life as a creator, and that program truly began my appreciation for theatre.
My identity has changed in the years since then. I still write (and now can write plays thanks to Leah and Hester) but now I spend my summers in the best way I can imagine–scurrying around backstage, filling up snarfblat props with flour, making 500 goodie bags, and eating cheesecake with our Gulfshore Playhouse Education team.
We just closed our summer production of The Little Mermaid, Jr. and at the end of each week I remember this: I have worked in a handful of places but none can compete with the crew here at our theatre. Amie, Kaique, Graham, and Cory helped me through my first experience as a stage manager during The Velveteen Rabbit and our Shakespeare Intensive performance. They supported me through dry tech rehearsals and calling my first show. Hester, Joseph (our Little Mermaid music director), and Katharine (our assistant choreographer) showed me the love that goes into a show and the amazing potential of student actors. These past two years I’ve spent as a part of Gulfshore Playhouse have given me so much. Not only have I gained technical knowledge needed to work in a theatre, I also feel more prepared for college and a future career and have received valuable advice for the tumultuous times of high school.
I work in theatre education programs because I am the product of one. A lot of our students who return year after year in the summer or spend the school year in the Teen Conservatory program call Gulfshore Playhouse their second home. I empathize with them because this theatre has given me so much knowledge and so many opportunities to grow in ways that I could never have predicted–as a creator, as a student, and as a professional. Because of the STARwrights program and helping out the past two summers, I have learned what it takes to be a stage manager, how to work with children, seen and read many plays, and helped to create them.