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Emily Ioppolo

We Are Knox...

Emily Ioppolo


Oak Park, Illinois

Theatre Major, Psychology Minor

Emily Ioppolo spent her summer working as a light technician at Theater
on the Lake, an annual summer theatre festival in Chicago, where she gained
valuable experience working with nine different theatre companies on nine different productions. Emily is now studying in London through the Roger Williams University London Theatre Program.

Describe your internship with Theater on the Lake. When and how long were you involved? Who did you work with? What were some of your responsibilities?
I started working at Theater on the Lake (TOTL) the first week of June, and the season ran until the second week of August. TOTL is a yearly summer theatre festival run by the Chicago Park District that selects Chicago-based theatre companies to perform one of their shows for a week. I also worked with other seasonal TOTL production staff that remained the same for the whole season. They were all professionals in the business, and it was amazing being able to work alongside them.

What inspired your decision to work at Theater on the Lake?
The support of my [visiting Knox] professor, Ian Zywica, really helped me get this position. Not only did he recommend me for it, but he also helped me perfect my skills so I could have a basic understanding of the kind of work I would be doing. He also kept in contact with me after he left campus to help build my resume and make it look really professional. I took his advice with great respect because he is currently a professional scenic designer in Chicago, so he is really in the know of what it takes to get the job in Chicago.

Describe a typical day working at the theatre.
On a typical day, I would arrive at work in the mid-afternoon and turn on the run lights backstage, the light board, the dimmers, and the aisle lights in the house. Then I had to go through all the lighting fixtures to make sure they worked. I then ran the lighting cues for the show as the stage manager was calling the cues and telling me when to go.

What was one of the most interesting things that happened to you during your internship?
One of the most interesting companies that performed this season was a group called Manuel Cinema. They performed a show called Lula Del Ray, and it was all done in shadow puppetry. But what made it really unique was that they did it all on old-school overhead projectors and with cut out and painted acetate. It was all so seamless and it really looked like a real animated movie, but performed right in front of an audience with live music. Right after Manual Cinema performed at TOTL, they took their show to the New York Fringe Festival and I heard they got awesome reviews. So it was really awesome to help work on something that had such great success elsewhere.

Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom or out-of-the-classroom experiences at Knox benefited you in the internship?
My job at TOTL would not have been possible without volunteering in the [Knox] scene shop, since they are in charge of set and lighting. I also would not have known anything about programming lighting cues without my experience as a stage manager for the mainstage performances at Knox. Literally every skill that I needed to do my job I gained by working directly in the Theatre Department.