By Jessica (Hatem) Lanman

Well hey hi hello there everybody. My name is Jessica, and I am (for just a week more!) the Marketing Intern here at Trinity Rep for the 2017-18 season. A bit about me: I grew up in White Plains, NY, of which Phoebe on Friends once said “It sounds like such a magical place!” (it is). I’m a writer and superhero aficionado, and in my free time I like to embroider, buy geeky t-shirts and binge-watch The Golden Girls.

Now that the season has come to a close, and my internship here is wrapping up, it seemed like a good idea to think about what I learned in my time here at Trinity Rep, and maybe have a list to reference when people ask me about this experience later. Let’s see what I’m taking away from this season-long experience.

I learned:

  1. How to market at a regional theater. That’s pretty obvious, but it’s something I didn’t know before. I’d worked in film and TV marketing through internships in college, but this was the first time I was marketing theater, specifically, beyond working as a cashier at my university’s box office. Here, I had a whole new experience marketing by geography, rather than by age or gender, and learned to get to know a community, rather than a niche market. I also learned a lot more about marketing art as an experience, rather than something watched or consumed at home, and I learned about press relationships, and what it means to be an established institution vs. being new to the scene. How you convince people to come see a resident acting company is different from how you convince them to see a touring production at your theater space. Having resident actors changes your marketing strategy compared to bringing in new people each show. It was an endless well of new information, and I loved every second of it. And it’s good to know how important subscriptions are to places like this, and that every moment can be a marketing opportunity! Speaking of which, dear reader, have you subscribed to next season yet? You really should!
  2. How to market better. Again, maybe an obvious lesson, but in Kate Brandt, Caitlin Howle, and Michael Guy (and fellow intern Priscilla Parisa!), I got incredible mentors that not only showed me how marketing works, but how to consistently make it great. I didn’t appreciate social media marketing much before this–now I’m obsessed with it, and seeing what brands do online. I really know how to write a good press release now, and a compelling show summary and synopsis. I was encouraged to try new things, like live tweeting, and cheered when I did well. I felt driven to give 110% in any task I was given, not because it was obligated, but because I wanted to be as great as my co-workers. This is a drive I hope I never lose.
  3. I really like marketing. Geeze, all of these are about marketing I guess, but I do really like it, like WAY MORE than I thought! It’s an excuse to be enthusiastic about things! All the time!!! I usually am enthusiastic about things, so any excuse to be that way outwardly is just so great!!!!! Also I like exclamation points, can you tell!!!!!!!!
  4. Theater people are the best. They really are (and hey, we’re moving off of marketing-related lessons finally!). I did a ton of theater in high school, but spent college mostly watching shows, not being part of them. Working here, I was reminded that oh yeah, the people who make theater are always SO COOL and SO NICE and SO FUN TO TALK TO. And EASY to talk to, which, for a shy-inclined person like myself, is such a relief (shout out to fellow intern Braxton Crewell, who I can talk to FOREVER, to the detriment of both of our jobs. Sorry, supervisors!!!). It’s an amazing industry, getting to know people in all departments has taught me this. I’ve been so happy to be a part of it here.
  5. I can’t do big projects first thing in the morning. Deadlines can be compelling, and are usually my number one motivator (I’m writing this blog post at this moment because of one) but even with them breathing down my neck, if I’ve just gotten to the office, I need a minute to get my brain in order. I need to make a to-do list for the day, I need to sort through my email. And I need to accomplish a smaller, simpler task to launch me into something more time-consuming. This can be a difficult with, again, pressing deadlines, but I’m glad I know this about myself. It’s easier to plan for a delay than have it come up unexpectedly. And maybe I work just a little longer the afternoon before so there’s less pressure to deliver results in the morning.
  6. Lists are AMAZING. Especially to-do lists! Without them, I would never have been able to keep track of all my work tasks this season, or my life tasks either. My bullet journal (shout out to intern Ava Mascena, my fellow bullet journaler)  is my entire life at this point. Lists are how I think about things now, how I outline things I’m writing. This blog post is a list. THERE ARE ONLY LISTS. AND IT IS GLORIOUS.
  7. I love Providence, and it’s nice to have my “obnoxious New Yorker” vision removed. It’s the curse of being from the southern part of the state, and going to college there too–you see New York, the city, as being the definition of urban. Therefore, all other cities pale in comparison. It doesn’t help that NY is such a destination for people, particularly artists. You come to see it as the ultimate place to be, with cities like Chicago and LA being at least ok, and the rest of the country is a giant blob of whatever. But living in Providence has seriously shifted that worldview for me. This city is small, but it is jam-packed with art and theater. It has amazing restaurants. And it has some amazing residents. I love it here. And though I’m likely to return home at some point, I’ll do so with a new perspective that I think will serve me incredibly well in life.
  8. Working near a french fry restaurant is the most amazing and dangerous thing on the planet. Frisky Fries, you are my everything. I wept happy tears when you opened. But thank God I never became a part of your rewards program. If I had, my blood would have all turned to grease, and my skin to flavor dusts. But oh, I would have been happy in that state, I’m sure…
  9. When you get married during an internship, people are usually a little extra surprised. But also really happy for you. It was a different internship experience, I think, not living in the intern house, and doing this very adult thing of promising to love a person for the rest of my life (shout out to my amazing husband Adam, you rock my socks!). But the internship here at Trinity Rep is full-time. We’re learning, we have seminars, but we’re treated like staff. And that was extra clear to me when I would tell people I was getting married soon, or that I’d just gotten married. There’d be a bit of surprise; most of the interns have just graduated college, so I seemed pretty young (it tends to help clarify when I say I’m three years out of school, so not obscenely young). But once the age perspective shifted, the other staff would be all smiles, and really sweet and delighted for me. It felt really good, like I had a happy work family cheering for me, even when I was still getting to know everyone (I got married about 2 months into the internship; kind of a fun ice breaker!). I hope I can bring that sort of attitude about life milestones to other jobs I have in the future. And that I can give interns and other new people the same level of respect and joy.
  10. That I’m a writer. I said I was one above, but for the first time in my life it doesn’t feel like a lie to say it. It’s the eternal plague of the artist; to feel like you’re faking it, that you don’t really know what you’re doing, even while you’re doing it well. That was my feeling about my writing until I started working here at Trinity Rep. I studied writing in college, and loved it, but couldn’t shake the feeling in the back of my head that it was entirely possible I was wasting my time with it. That maybe I wasn’t bad, but I might not be good enough to make a living at it. But that all shifted this season. First, and importantly, because I was actually getting paid to write. Not very much, mind you, the internship only offers a stipend of $50 a week, but hey, I can tell my mom I’m using my degree! Second, this viewpoint shifted because, as I said before, I was so encouraged. People would tell me I was good at writing. When it felt like they didn’t have to say it. That meant a LOT, and helped me to keep working when projects, both personal and professional, were giving me trouble. And third, it shifted because I got to talk about art with a lot of people (shout out to New Play Club, but also EVERYONE here at Trinity Rep–it’s definitely a topic we never get sick of!). It was an inspiring environment, everyone working on a show, or on a project at another theater, or just on plays and poems of their own in private. I’ve written almost every day this past season, and I’ve seriously maybe missed three days total since January. I feel like I can write now. Like the way I put words together is compelling, to at least some people. So finally, after 25 years of being alive, I can call myself a writer without inwardly cringing. I still have doubts that everything I write is good, and I know not every idea I have is worth bringing to fruition. But I know writing is worth pursuing now. That I can, very possibly, make it my livelihood. And that is a gift I don’t think I can ever thank this place for enough.

It’s been a truly marvelous season, Trinity Rep. I’ve loved every show, and every person here. Thank you for everything, even the frustrations of opening night RSVPs. Now would be the time to say I’ll carry this place in my heart forever as I go along life’s journey, but I’m actually still living in Providence for a little while, and I’m for sure seeing a bunch of shows next season (so excited for Pride & Prejudice and black odyssey–seriously, have you subscribed yet?). So I’ll just say what my dad always says at times of parting like this; it’s not goodbye, it’s only so long! So see you soon!