The student who

Working with stage pros on TDM's inaugural production inspires Emily Bergquist ’18 to envision her own career in theater. 

By Jake Stepansky '17 

Emily Bergquist '18
Emily Bergquist '18
When Emily Bergquist ’18 was asked to sign up to work as production manager on The Man Who – the inaugural show for the Theater, Dance & Media concentration – she was a bit confused. Wasn’t the staff supposed to be entirely comprised of professionals, with students only filling assistant roles? In fact, TDM had chosen Bergquist to serve on the staff in the hopes that she would be able to bridge the gap between the professionals and students involved in the production. Given her extensive experience in stage management and producing (as an intern on Waitress at A.R.T. this summer, and as the producer of last semester’s mainstage musical Nine), Bergquist was an ideal candidate to handle the dual demands of student life and professional theater. We chatted about what Bergquist has gained from working on the show. An edited version of our conversation follows. 

What has been the most rewarding or exciting part of working on The Man Who?
The most exciting part is definitely the opportunity to get to work with a fully professional staff. I do a lot of HRDC shows, and I work with a lot of extremely talented students, but when you’re working with professionals who do this for a living, it’s not only about the quality of the work they produce, but it’s really wonderful to see people work in the theater to make a living. As someone who wants to do that, it’s really nice to be around the energy that professionals bring into the rehearsal room and into our production meetings, and to see people who are unencumbered by being a full-time student making good artistic work. It gives me hope that I can do this in the real world. 

What has been the most challenging part of working on The Man Who?
The most rewarding, exciting part has been working with professionals, but in a very different way it’s sometimes challenging to work with a partially professional staff because you have students whose “work day” for theater is 6 p.m. to midnight, and professionals work during the day – it’s their “day job” – and so it has been a little bit difficult to get everyone in the room at one time. I think because this is the first collaboration of this kind – students and professionals working together so closely – we're constantly figuring out new strategies to make it easier.

What would you tell prospective students in the arts why they should apply to Harvard?
You have a remarkably strong student-driven extracurricular theater network in the HRDC. There are so many people on this campus – professionals and especially students – who know the ropes and are so eager to share that with other people and to bring other people into the community. It’s a very welcoming community. There’s such a wide range of opportunities in Cambridge because we’re lucky enough to have the Office for the Arts, which provide us with extreme support in so many ways and believes in us enough to go the extra mile to make sure our shows go on in the way that we want them to. I think that’s pretty special because at other schools you can be left to fend for yourself a little bit. Also A.R.T. provides several opportunities to become interns and to meet with professionals. You don't really see that at schools that don’t have a regional theater of that caliber. When you put all these people into close proximity, some pretty excellent things are bound to happen.

The Man Who, By Peter Brook and Marie Hélène Estienne