Williamstown has three 'tiers' within the 300-400 member company every year.
The Apprentices: the life blood and labor of the festival who pay a lot of money to be there, and who do everything from iron costumes and build sets, to playing minor walk on roles in any production or taking part in the Cabaret and performing in 10 minute plays.
The Non-Eqs: the company supplements the main stage and Nikos shows and performs in free outdoor theatre, 1 Act Directing Projects, and the Fellowship Plays. They also pay, but only for Board.
The Mainstage Company: Equity members who typically rehearse shows 3-4 weeks in NYC, then move up to WTF to finish rehearsals and mount the show. It's a great job financially, and for your soul.
I worked in the Non-Equity Fellowship Program in 2012, and had an amazing experience. The atmosphere of artistic freedom and creativity is electric and fosters genuine friendships and lasting collaborations. At the end of the summer, a Showcase is offered for Non-Eq company members not currently in school. This showcase is one of the best attended in the industry, as it happens in October instead of along with the glut of School showcases in the Spring. When they come, they are genuinely looking for talent.
From this showcase I was signed to a great manager and they helped me find a wonderful Agency. The following year I was invited back as a cast member in a Mainstage Show as part of the Equity company.
I hope to return to WTF thru out my career. It is a gorgeous place (amazing for hiking, swimming in the river, day trips to Vermont) with wonderful audiences, and amazing work happening on the Mainstage, Nikos, and Directing Studio every season.
There is a reason they have such 'big names' return there every summer… Most of them STARTED at Williamstown! David Hyde Pierce, Blythe Danner, Chris Pine, Brooks Ashmanskas, Scott Ellis, Patricia Clarkson, Alex Timbers, Roger Rees, Gwenyth Paltrow, Jessica Chastain… the list goes on for days.
Work at WTF if you get the chance, even as an apprentice. Pay the money and put in the long hours of exhaustion. A season at WTF is worth 3-5 years of constant pounding the pavement in NYC. It will change your life and give your career a boost unlike any other regional theatre in the country. The Non-Eq program offers you direct access to amazing Casting Directors in a educational environment, and the chance to rub shoulders with and learn from Oscar and Tony winners, amazing writers, and the directing Wunderkinds of today and tomorrow.
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