University of South Florida

College of The Arts

University of South Florida

USF Theatre Alumna Zoe Lewis to Intern at Williamstown Theatre Festival and Portland Stage

This summer, USF theatre graduate Zoe Lewis sets off to intern as a stage manager and production assistant intern at the celebrated Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.

Lewis will be working with top actors, directors, designers, and playwrights from around the country.

This year’s festival includes actors such as Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Jamey Sheridan (Homeland), Cassie Beck (Elementary), and Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock). Lewis will work as an assistant stage manager for Grand Horizons, tech production assistant for Before the Meeting, and assistant stage manager for a reading of Female Troubles. She will work alongside Tripp Cullman and Leigh Silverman, experienced directors who have worked both on and off-Broadway.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival runs June 12 to August 18. Later on in August, Lewis will pursue a 9-month company management internship at Portland Stage in Maine. As a company manager, she will take on a broader scope of roles as she works as a manager for the entire company.

Lewis graduated from USF in the spring of 2019 with dual degrees in sign language interpreting and theatre arts. She also earned a minor in leadership studies. Studying theatre with a concentration in theatre arts allowed her to reconnect with a form of art she enjoyed and find a place for herself in the field as a non-performer.

“I took many different classes such as technical theatre,  lighting, and sound then I finally took stage management and I knew that this was my thing,” said Lewis.

Soon after joining the USF School of Theatre and Dance, Lewis found herself working as the stage manager in the USF production of Sweet Charity. Despite being inexperienced, she picked it up quickly and sought out other stage management roles in companies around Tampa Bay.

Lewis’s experience working on Sweet Charity was a defining moment of her time at USF.

“If I went to a BFA theatre program, I wouldn’t be the stage manager I am today because I wouldn’t have been thrust into a show,” said Lewis. “This is the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Outside of classes, Lewis was active with the USF Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, specifically with Bulls For Kids, a student-run philanthropy that raises money and awareness for Shriners’ Hospitals For Children in Tampa. 

As a stage manager, Lewis is involved with the inner workings of professional theatre groups. She creates show and rehearsal reports, helps facilitate rehearsals, and manages the crew members working in areas such as sound, lighting, and spotlight operation.

Other tasks include making paperwork, taking blocking notes at rehearsals, meeting with the director to establish and communicate actors’ rehearsal times, and working with the prop master. Above all, Lewis acts as a vital support figure for the entire cast.

“I’m just ‘mom.’ I’m just making sure the actors feel good before they get on stage and during the rehearsal process and they aren’t stressed and they know where they need to be and when they need to be there,” said Lewis. “And if that means making tea before a show or arriving 3 hours early to open up a dressing room, I will.”

As a student at USF, Lewis did a directed study where she Stage Managed for the Main Stage Jr class at  South Tampa Center for the Arts, a local studio providing dance and theatre training for first through eighth graders. She was later hired as an employee to do stage management, dance instruction, and choreography for the company.

Lewis has also worked with other Tampa arts organizations, including youth arts education group Show on the Road and the professional companies Thinktank Theatre and Tampa City Ballet.

In the fall of 2018, Lewis and a friend put on a staged reading of Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2 in both voice and sign. Lewis hopes to one day create a career combining her passions for both theatre and American Sign Language.

“My end goal is to work with a theatre company that does everything in voice and sign,” said Lewis. “So that’s the end goal: to make theatre more accessible so the deaf audience doesn’t have to look to the side to the interpreters, but they can look on the stage into the action just like the hearing audience.”