MAT interns work on camps, deal with COVID

Rachel Jamieson, Havre Daily News

Rachel Jamieson, Havre Daily News

Havre Daily News/Jack Lambert
Aria Pratt, one of the Montana Actors’ Theatre interns putting on the troupe’s KidsMAT camps, reviews lines Wendsday in the Creative Leisure Building with “Jacob Doney, 8, who played Toto, in the camp’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” Thursday. The camps continue through the summer, including in Havre again this week.

Three Havre High School graduates are this year’s summer interns for the local acting troupe, Montana Actors’ Theatre.

Marcee Murphy, Hannah Bricker and Aria Pratt are the interns who are leading the KidsMAT camps and directing the youth production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

“These interns will run camps, edit scripts, teach confidence, create costumes, design sets, direct several shows, formulate rehearsal schedules, set lights, record sound cues, brave the elements, play lots of games, learn health safety measures, encourage others and each other to pretend, sleep very little, all while sharing their love for theater with our community and the communities up and down the Hi-Line,” said Aria’s mother, Angie Pratt, who oversees MAT’s summer youth and children’s programs.

Murphy and Pratt graduated from Havre High in 2019 and Bricker graduated in 2020.

Murphy said she is a musical theater major at the University of Montana in Missoula.

Pratt said she is a graphic design major at Montana State University.

Bricker said she is a liberal studies major at Montana State University-Northern.

All three interns have also participated in MAT in one way or another in years past.

Pratt said she has been involved in MAT since her family moved here.

“I enjoy working with people, working with kids, putting on shows and making props,” she said. “I love all the crafty parts that come from theater and now I get to be in charge of that, kind of, so that’s what I’m hoping to get out of this is the fun crafty part, I think.”

Murphy said she is looking forward to putting on the youth production at the end of the summer.

She added that she is also looking forward to the experience of the show depending on them.

“I’ve always been the one getting told what to do, not the one telling people what to do, so it’s kind of cool,” she said.

Bricker said she is looking forward to learning all the aspects of theater rather than just acting and directing.

Pratt said with COVID-19, it makes the internship not only a challenge, but unique.

“This internship has gone on for a few years now, and having the pandemic during our time getting to be interns I think makes it a lot more interesting and you kind of have to step back and think about thing rather than just keeping doing the same things that everybody has been doing the past few years,” she said. “You get to really think about what you want to do and what needs to be done, and what really needs to be different when we set MAT apart this year.”

All three said MAT and theater has changed their lives.

Murphy said she didn’t get involved in theater till her junior year of high school and now she is a theater major in college.

“It completely changed my life,” she said. “I’m going to school for it and I used to be super shy, so it kind of formed who I am.”

Being in theater all her life, she said theater formed her as well, Pratt said.

She said one of the questions in the application process was how do they fit theater in their life.

“The way I answered it was, that I didn’t fit theater into my life, my life just kind of fits in theater,” she said. “I’ve developed my personality around it. That’s who I’ve become. The people I meet and all the friends that I make are all involved in some way in theater and so it’s part of my life – the whole world is a stage.”

Bricker said she used to be involved in sports before she was in MAT.

“I wasn’t able to play sports anymore and theater became like another outlet for me to get out of the house and do things,” she said.”

Angie Pratt said she is very excited about this year’s interns.

“I am excited to see their creativity and the way they have grown over the years,” she said. “I’m excited to see their vision of what their productions will look like. I am so grateful for their willingness to be a part of this program.”

MAT Executive Director Jay Pyette said earlier this year that the MAT youth program started in 2000, with its first children’s production, “The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig” that took place in Pepin Park.

He added that MAT decided to also offer a youth production with “Ten Little Indians” later that summer.

Since then, MAT has offered both children’s theater and youth productions every year, and in 2015, the program started hiring of summer interns.

The MAT youth programs and camps grew and expanded with its productions showcased in other towns across the Hi-Line. When it started running camps in towns including Malta and Chinook it adopted the name of KidsMAT.

Since then, the program has continued to expand including into Lewistown, Shelby, Box Elder and Hays.

This year’s production line up includes camps in Havre, Chinook, Rocky Boy‘s Indian Reservation and Shelby.

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