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Eaton students thrive in internship with Casa Mañana

Eaton students thrive in internship with Casa Mañana
Image from left to right of Zoe Williams, Emma White and Bryleigh Lansdell
(L-R): Zoe Williams, Emma White and Bryleigh Lansdell

Summer is typically a time of rest for students, but three Eaton High School theatre students did quite the opposite recently. In fact, they all worked on average 40-50 hours a week as interns on various Casa Mañana production teams, and now they are using those experiences to push Eaton’s theatre performances to new heights.

Casa Mañana is a historical theatre in Fort Worth and has a stated mission of enriching and educating its diverse community and its future generations of artists. One way it does so is through internship programs on its production teams. The internship opportunities are very limited, and the theatre seeks students that already have knowledge in the department in which they will be working.

Bryleigh Lansdell, Emma White and Zoe Williams all work hard behind the scenes in the Eaton theatre program, and that experience landed them all a place among the elite group of interns at Casa Mañana. Bryleigh was the lone intern in the costume department, Zoe was the only intern on the sound team and Emma was one of two interns in the lighting department.

“Being able to work alongside some of the best in the business at Casa Mañana is very important for our students,” said Nick Kougias, Eaton High School Theatre Director. “It is great for building a network of contacts that will help them when preparing for college and the professional workplace.”

Not only did the students gain the benefit of a greater network, they also gained greater expertise in their production area, and they each brought new techniques to the performances at Eaton. 

One of the more noticeable changes is a use of halo microphones instead of traditional over-the-ear microphones.

Student performs during Little Mermaid Jr. musical
A student uses a halo microphone during NISD's recent middle school performance of Little Mermaid Jr.

“We’ve never used halo mics at Eaton, but at Casa Mañana they do and the sound is so much clearer,” said Zoe, a junior. “I asked Mr. K if we could try out the halo mics this year, and we did it. We first used them in Little Mermaid Jr., and we’ve heard from so many people that it sounds much clearer.”

“It was the best audio we have ever had for a musical,” Mr. Kougias added. “So much so that all three comprehensive high schools will be using this concept moving forward which will free up our performers.”

The unique concept involves using elastic as a “halo” around the actor’s head and placing the microphone on the actor’s forehead, rather than placing wiring around the actor’s ear as you may typically see in a concert or past NISD theatre productions. 

The impact of the three students and their experiences, however, will be felt in many more ways than on the stage.

Bryleigh, a senior, taught the Little Mermaid Jr. costume team some new procedures in how costumes are labeled, organized and stored. Emma, a junior, learned better ways to maintain and upkeep the school’s lighting fixtures, saving the school money as they will have to replace fixtures less often. She also positioned lights in a way that they can use less fixtures to cover more space. 

Whether they’re seen by the audience or not, the changes these three students have made are certainly impactful on the Eaton theatre department. However, the impact the internship made on the three students is immeasurable. 

Some want to pursue a career in theatre production. Some have other passions as well. However, the skills they’ve learned at Eaton and Casa Mañana will go far beyond the stage no matter what the future holds for the three students. Collaboration, problem solving, communication and working under pressure, just to name a few, are characteristics that will benefit them.

As for Mr. Kougias and the Eaton theatre department; “It validates that we are doing something right when it comes to the curriculum and our design or performance opportunities,” Mr. Kougias said. “Rigor is not easy, but these students rise to the challenge each and every day which, we believe, prepares them for the next step in their journey as artists and in life.”