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Interns take the stage at Transcendence Theater Company in Sonoma

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Nikko Kimzin was a performer in the first and second shows of Transcendence Theater Company’s 2017 season.

He said he “fell in love with everyone and everything” and never left.

Now as the company’s internship coordinator and director of community engagement and theater, Kimzin has overseen an overhaul of TTC’s internship and apprentice program for the current season, with new emphasis on education and community.

While Transcendence has accepted interns since its first season, “there was no real intention behind the program,” said Kimzin.

“I wanted to take the same structure of the professional development that we offer to our cast and apply it to the interns,” he said.

Interns were trained individually by Kimzin this year upon their arrival. They were assigned mentors who worked with Kimzin to develop specific skills, and an unused office space was converted into the “intern oasis.”

“It’s now a place the interns can call their own,” said Kimzin.

Over the course of the summer, interns and apprentices work on at least one big individual project.

“This is something we’re hoping that they will be able to show when they are applying for jobs and at a showcase at the end of the summer,” said Kimzin.

This year there are 10 interns and four apprentices, the majority of whom are from Sonoma Valley.

Taylor Curtis, SVHS ’17, who is currently a marketing intern at TTC, heard about the job through her theater and dance classes in high school. Now a rising sophomore at CSU Channel Islands, she is happy to get a taste of working in theater.

“I chose marketing because I’ve loved theater for awhile and now I can get a look at the inside of a theater company,” said Curtis.

Curtis spends a lot of her time updating the TTC website and posting on social media.

“We also get to go to the events such as the shows, rehearsals and special events around town to take photos,” she said.

Her favorite assignment was writing an article for the theater company’s blog. “My boss allowed me to be creative with the article, and it felt like I was really creating something,” said Curtis.

SVHS graduate Kaylin Riebli was an intern in Transcendence’s costume department in 2016. She enjoyed it so much she decided to major in costume design when she entered at UCLA the following year.

Transcendence’s 12- to 15-week internship program is open to high schoolers, college students and young professionals. Interns and apprentices receive a weekly stipend, and those coming in from out of town are provided housing and transportation.

“My least favorite thing in the world is people who use interns and apprentices as free labor,” said Kimzin.

Another change to the program is a cap on the hours worked by the interns and apprentices. Interns are capped at 40, and apprentices can work up to 50 hours. By logging their hours through a new app, Kimzin hopes to better track their work and keep their mentors aware of their progress.

“We really want to build the best summer for them,” said Kimzin.

Interns can apply to work in one of 13 areas: box office, costumes, events team, graphic design, marketing, merchandise, music (creative), music (performance), photography, props, stage management, technical theater and video. Applications are accepted beginning in February each year.

“This is a great time while the interns are young and learning to be exposed to all the different avenues of a theater company,” explained Kimzin. He has added shadow days for the interns and apprentices to let them explore multiple disciplines. For example, an intern working in stage management can spend a half day with the box office to see how that area of the theater works.

The interns also participate in biweekly sessions on professional and personal advancement, with topics ranging from “What are the arts?” to mental health.

“We want to teach them universal skills at this job that they can take to another job after this,” said Kimzin.

Many of the changes to the internship program were made possible by the Vadasz Family Foundation, which gave Transcendence a grant to support the intern and apprentice program.

“That has allowed us to really beef up the program,” said Kimzin.

“We try to give them the best view into the world of a theater company,” said Kimzin. “And we’re trying to create a culture that really believes in our interns and apprentices, and one that gives them the tools they need to succeed.”

Transcendence Theater Company has been producing Broadway-style concerts at Jack London State Historic Park since 2011.

The final show this season is this weekend’s Gala Celebration. Closing night is Sunday, Sept. 9.