Carolyn Mielke ’23

Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA

This summer, I worked as an audience engagement second assistant for the Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF), a summer-stock festival that has been based out of Williamstown since 1954. Our 13-person team was responsible for the entire patron experience at the Festival.

Our box office team on the lawn of the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance.

We began by getting to know our supervisors and each other, as well as becoming familiar with the ins and outs of the Festival as a whole. Next, I began my training on Patron Manager, a software used by the Festival to manage patron information such as donor status, as well as sell tickets. Selling and exchanging tickets through Patron Manager was an essential part of my job throughout the summer, and I was excited to have the opportunity to hone a new administrative skill set in the box office. In addition to computer and administrative work, speaking to patrons was another fundamental part of my job. I enjoyed getting to use some of the customer service skills I have acquired in my previous jobs, but also appreciated that making and answering calls as a part of a box office staff required a bit more nuance.

Later in the summer, there were a number of nights where shows had to be cancelled due to inclement weather that made it unsafe for performances to continue. This meant that the box office had to place calls to patrons to inform them of the cancellation and attempt to move their tickets into another performance. I was surprised by how smoothly this process often went. Initially, I was expecting to speak to many upset or even difficult patrons, but was pleasantly surprised by how understanding the majority of our patrons were.

The first day of WTF general ticket sales!

The other significant part of my job this summer was working at the actual performances. Since the entirety of performances took place outside, my team and I had a number of unconventional responsibilities. A normal WTF production takes place inside one of the theatres at the ’62 Center, but this summer WTF set up the “theatre” from scratch before each performance. The first show I worked on was Celebrating the Black Radical Imagination: Nine Solo Plays. The stage sat on the main lawn of the ’62 Center, and the audience space required over 100 chairs each night. The second show I worked on was an immersive theatre experience, Alien/Nation. This show took place all over the Williams campus. Although working on the shows was very physically demanding, I truly enjoyed working with the people on the production staff, as well as the patrons who came to enjoy the show.

There were challenges this summer that I did not expect, and there were moments where I did not know what to do. Despite these times of difficulty and uncertainty, I am overwhelmingly glad to have worked for WTF this summer. Working in the box office allowed me to pick up new administrative skills and to improve my customer service skills, as well as connect with the other wonderful members of the Festival staff.

All in all, I am grateful for this experience and to those who made it possible. 
Thank you.