Much More Than Cardboard - Leslie, Intern from US

Posted on: 19 April 2013

Written by: Anonymous

Being the new girl in the office isn’t easy. Particularly when you know your time there is limited...and particularly when you are an American amongst Brits. For those I didn’t have the chance to meet, I am in my third year at The American University in Washington, D.C. and this semester I had the opportunity to study abroad in London. In addition to this, I was lucky enough to intern (similar to taking work experience) with Cardboard Citizens for seven weeks. 19 April marks the end of my time here, and I’ll be sad to leave the office for the last time.

There are so many things in this world that are astonishing: from old buildings to beautiful places, or even perfectly-timed turns of phrase. However, my time with Cardboard Citizens has led me to believe that there is little more astonishing in life than people. Every person I have met while interning here, staff or Members, have been nothing short of incredible. I had the opportunity to see Glasshouse at The Albany in Deptford, which left me marvelling not only at the quality of the production, but also the great response from the audience both during the forum and in their feedback after the show. When I saw the showing at the end of Forum Week training at Crisis Skylight last Friday, I was moved so much by the meaning and depth of the pieces created in one short week, by people new to forum theatre. All the actors and Jokers I’ve had the chance to meet have been so dedicated to what they do, bringing the reality of their personal experiences to what they create with engaging aplomb. And the songs from The God Racket I’ve heard flooding the office during rehearsals are so catchy I’ll be humming them all the way back the States.

What has also astonished me, in complement to the talent of the company Members, is the staff I’ve worked with day-to-day. As I say, it’s not the easiest being the new girl, but I was warmly welcomed by this family of colleagues who trusted me with tasks and jobs and even answering the phone. The kindness and helpful climate of Cardboard Citizens only further underscores their commitment to what they do.

In an effort to be as minimally comparative as possible, I also want to add that Cardboard Citizens as an organization itself is unlike any other non-profit I have encountered previously. In the United States, the present attitude towards the performing arts is not the most positive: it questions whether the arts have much of a place at all anymore. But Cardboard Citizens is an example of the performing arts being used in a proactive social capacity, firmly cementing the place of the arts in the minds of those who through the organization, discover they love performing. This idea throws into sharp relief the American ideas surrounding charity and the arts, and how reactive or prescriptive they are in comparison. The theatre Cardboard Citizens brings to its Members, and all audiences really, is the kind of theatre that stays with both the viewers and performers for a long time, as the essences of entire lifetimes have gone into crafting it.

I am so proud of the work Cardboard Citizens does, and feel very privileged to have had a chance to be a part of it. I know that they will continue to better the society around them, and hope to someday have the opportunity to see their future creations. Until then, much thanks to all the Citz for accepting me into your incredible community and giving me the chance to look at the arts with a whole new view. And just like we all sang in the office one cloudy afternoon, “we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.”

NB: Thank you Leslie, for being a wonderful addition to the Citz family, working so hard and lighting up the office with your lovely smile. You are an honorary Citizen now. Go back to the US and make change happen.


With thanks to

Arts Council England Lottery funded