"Playing" in the Park
What job entails riding a BMX bike through West Philadelphia to work every morning with a fake donkey’s head hooked around your arm? Sharada Tolton ’11 admits that it sounds like something that would be the stuff of West Philly urban legend, but to her, carrying around this famous prop is just a normal part of her summer internship through the Hurford Humanities Center.
Tolton, an English major, is spending her summer working with Shakespeare in Clark Park (SCP), a non-profit theatre company that presents free, outdoor productions of Shakespeare’s plays in West Philadelphia’s Clark Park. This summer’s play: the aptly named A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
With SCP, Tolton has two job titles. First, she is tapping into her business side as a Production Assistant. Her responsibilities entail helping with marketing and publicity for the company’s summer show. She manages the organization’s mailing database, talks to local businesses about sponsorship, and designs fliers to hang around town. Secondly, as the Assistant Stage Manager, Tolton fills whatever role is required in facilitating rehearsal. Some days this means taking notes for the director, while other days it necessitates acting as an understudy. Additionally, since Tolton lives just a few blocks from the rehearsal space, she often offers up her apartment for storage of many of the show’s props, including that donkey head.
When Tolton was offered the position with SCP, she couldn’t resist a company that has such a positive effect on the Philadelphia community. “What other organization can say that every year it brings together over 2,000 Philadelphians of every age, race, class, and in some cases, species, for a cultural event?” she asks, “I wanted to be a part of that vehicle of community cohesion, especially since it reaches people in such a creative way.”
Tolton has been getting a hands-on introduction to the world of non-profit management in her work with Shakespeare in Clark Park, which is now in its fifth year, over the course of the summer. “I’ve experienced both the glamorous and gritty sides of the production process, giving me a new understanding of the breadth of marketing and publicity that is needed to keep the company afloat,” she says.
--Mike Troup ’11