Theatre graduate practices her craft at summer internship
E rden Mohl is painting scenery this summer—exquisite, authentic-looking bricks and wood grains—for a production at Flat Rock Playhouse in North Carolina.
Mohl is one of more than 120 Georgia College students and recent graduates doing internships this summer. It’s a perfect transition between school and the workforce, giving the theatre major a chance to build upon skills she learned at Georgia College.
“The challenge of leaving behind this community that I've grown accustomed to for the last four years was difficult. Graduating is so exciting, but it seriously took a bit to really wrap my head around it,” Mohl said.
“The huge changes and twists and turns of transitioning into post-college life were hurdles that I feel lucky to have overcome,” she added. “The internship helps by allowing me to learn on the job and also work and network with some amazing artists.”
Internships are on the rise again. Prior to Covid, more than 230 students a year did internships at 167 employment sites. They’re a great way for students to get their feet wet, learn from professionals and explore career options.
As trainees, interns gain confidence and valuable work experience. They also get a competitive advantage in the job market—if not an actual job offer.
About 95% of Georgia College students receive job offers at the end of their internships, according to Brittany Archer, assistant director of employer relations and internships at the University Career Center. The other 5% would’ve been given jobs based on their performance, employers reported, if there were openings at the time.
“I’ve seen first-hand the benefits a student receives from completing an internship,” she said. “A huge part of student development here at Georgia College is self-awareness and self-promotion, and our internship program strives to help a student master those professional skills."
Internships also play an important part in the GC Journeys program, serving as one of the five ways students can have transformative experiences outside the classroom. Other ways include study abroad, research, leadership and community-based engagement.
Mohl is certainly experiencing a transformation this summer.
After prominent acting and directing roles in Georgia College productions of “Heathers: The Musical,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Ballet Russes” and “Ride the Cyclone,” Mohl can now add realistic set designs to her portfolio.
For Flat Rock’s “West Side Story,” she took scenery created by carpenters and treated them with various paint products to produce real-world effects. She created wood grains, bricks and other textures seen in cities.
“As an artist, it’s important to understand what others do,” Mohl said. “Collaboration is really the core of everything in theatre, so I felt I could be a better team member if I understood what other positions entail.”
“With scenic painting, I get to really contribute to what the world of the play looks like,” she said. “You get to transform the scenery into something amazing.”
Flat Rock Playhouse is a full community experience. Mohl lives and works in the historic village of Flat Rock. She walks to work and helps direct parking for performances. She’s experimenting with materials, like joint compound mixtures, and learning new things, like spatter paint techniques.
“I wanted a collaborative and hands-on experience, and that’s exactly what I’m getting here,” Mohl said. “The caliber of theatre this playhouse accomplishes is astounding. I feel proud to be a part of it.”
Mohl is quick to say she wouldn’t be where she is today without Georgia College. The class of 2022 was deeply affected by Covid. Unlike other playhouses around the country, the Georgia College Theatre and Dance Department went on with the show. Many productions during the pandemic were filmed and streamed online.
“Theatre was heavily affected by Covid because it’s a human craft for humans, and Covid didn't allow us to have human experiences,” Mohl said. “I can't thank the professors at Georgia College enough for their commitment to continuing our theatre experience in whatever form possible during that time.”
Her classes at Georgia College heavily contributed to Mohl’s professional development. Her favorites were play analysis, directing and advanced acting. She especially thanks Amy Pinney and Isaac Ramsey for their “incredible and impactful” mentorship. They challenged and pushed her to grow as an artist.
Mohl applies everything she learned to her internship. It has reinforced her passion for all aspects of performance.