Hank Stolz spoke with Lisa Condit and Ashleigh Prince about Ashleigh’s history with THT, the WYSH Program and upcoming projects. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Then tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Lisa: I have a new addition to introduce to everybody, and her name is Ashleigh Prince. Ashleigh was one of our design interns pre-pandemic and she hung in with us while everybody was starting to go virtual. When we were looking for a new Communication Assistant, Ashleigh rose to the occasion and checked all of our boxes, so I’m pleased to introduce everybody to Ashleigh.
Ashleigh: Hello! Nice to meet you.
Lisa: Ashleigh is on about day nine of full-time employment at The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory. Yesterday I said “Ashleigh, tell us about what you’re observing from your fresh perspective,” and she listed all the things that are our priorities, thank goodness we hired her. What I thought would be really fantastic is, she has already been recruited to help us with other things within our organization like the WYSH Project that Meghan Montaner had been telling us about. I would love it, Ashleigh, if you could tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, because you have an excellent and interesting background, and what you are working on with the WYSH Project.
Ashleigh: Okay! My story with The Hanover Theatre is pretty interesting. I actually took my senior photos at The Hanover Theatre when I was graduating high school in 2016, then I went to Salem State University. I graduated with an Advertising degree, with a double minor in Graphic Design and Educational Studies, and I was interning with The Hanover Theatre as their graphic design intern… Then a pandemic happened, so I was working remotely until May. We took a little break, then I was invited to come back as the Communications Assistant. It has been quite the progression from senior year of high school to one year post-graduation. I’m excited to be here, I’m excited to work with everyone again.
Ashleigh: Last night I got to meet with the WYSH Project, and it was really nice to meet all of those students because I come from a theatre background. I was a ‘theatre kid’ from fourth grade to senior year of high school, I was constantly in shows, so it was really nice to get in touch with my roots and be in that space of creativity again. I told them about myself and walked them through what graphic designing is like, especially for The Hanover Theatre, and what my progression was like in the graphic design field. It was really interesting.
Lisa: For people that might have missed when we were talking about the WYSH Project before, tell people a bit about what WYSH stands for and what the program is.
Ashleigh: The WYSH Program stands for Worcester Youth Speak Honestly. It’s a group of 11 students from the Worcester area, and they are going through workshops that run them through what being in theatre is like and they are performing plays reflecting their lives and experiences. It’s a really exciting project.
Coming in as someone who had been involved in high school theatre projects, from designing all of the programming to directing to acting, it’s really nice to connect with them in that way.
Seeing them discover themselves in theatre is very exciting to see.
Lisa: You were working with them last night on a logo workshop. How fantastic is that?
Ashleigh: Yeah! When they approached me about coming to talk to WYSH, I noticed that they didn’t have a logo. When I was an intern, I was doing logos for other smaller projects, so I asked them if they wanted one to promote all of the things that they were doing because they are a relatively new program. I approached them and asked them what they were looking for, they gave me a ballpark of what they were looking for and said that they would really like if the students could give their opinion on the logo. They suggested to have four options, bring them on Thursday, and see what they think. I made four logos and they were all very different, based on the feedback that they were giving me about speech bubbles and color to reflect diversity of the program.
I took that feedback on everything that they were looking for and I presented those logos to the students. I gaged what their interests were, saw which ones they liked the most, they gave me their feedback and I said “Great, let me go back to my computer and I’ll make those updates and by the end of your rehearsal we can talk about the progression of the logo and what you think about it in version two. I sat back there, revamped it, and gave them three new logos based on the original ones that I gave them. I presented it at the end of the night, and they went wild for one of them, so that is the one that we will be going with. It’s very colorful and fun, and I think it really captures that voice that they were looking for. I’m very excited to start applying that, and I’m super excited that they got to be involved in such a way.
Lisa: And I’m super excited that you were able to gain consensus in one day. That is incredible for anybody who has been through a logo process before. Congratulations Ashleigh. Is there anything else that you wanted to share? I think that people have some preconceived notions about what it might be like to work for The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory. I mean, it’s a very glamorous life.
Hank: Yeah, tell us. “Spill the tea” as the younger people say here, let’s hear about that.
Ashleigh: Oh, all the drama.
Hank: Well, it’s supposed to be, it’s a theatre!
Ashleigh: As an intern, my responsibilities were completely different because I was the Graphic Design Intern. I was doing rack cards and lobby posters and social media things every day. Before the pandemic, there was a point when I went into the lobby and almost all of the lobby posters and rack cards that were displayed were things that I had my hands in, and that was very exciting. I took my former drama director and showed her, and she was like “oh my god.’ Now, as the Communications Assistant, I have completely different responsibilities. I’m working on social media stuff, I’m working on scheduling things, I’m emailing back and forth between departments trying to get everyone on the same page, I’m doing this project with WYSH, so I’m bouncing back and forth between everybody which is pretty interesting. It is a completely different experience from what I was dealing with during my internship.
Hank: Now it’s full immersion, absolutely. It’s interesting, you’re really able to see what’s going on everywhere.
Lisa: Because the truth is everything needs to go through Communications for it to go onto our website, we’re in the middle of a new website development project that we’re doing, we’re launching the online subscriptions next week… All of those technical pieces are happening behind the scenes as well as the shows that we’re confirming, new shows that we’re planning the on-sales for, and Ashleigh has her hands in those advertising plans and budgets as well.
Hank: And all coming out, all returning to the theatre and all coming out after Covid. Talk about everything hitting at once.
Lisa: Absolutely. Right now, we’re really busy and we’re really ramping back up because we need to have things announced so that people can then buy their tickets in advance. 2,300 tickets are a lot of tickets to sell for any event, so we’re thrilled with that opportunity, and we’re thrilled that we have our staff returning full time. That is really thanks to the generosity of all of our supporters, staff, board and volunteers. Talk about community working together! We’re thrilled to have Ashleigh, and she wil be helping with Behind the Scenes and making sure that it’s being used in multiple ways.
Hank: Yeah, we’re really looking forward to that. That really is a full-time job just considering social media. Social media now encompasses so much. It isn’t just Facebook and Twitter, it’s Instagram, YouTube, there are a million different ways to get the message out. When you’re The Hanover Theatre, people expect there to be a certain visual component and a certain level of professionalism that you have to have.
Lisa: The pressure is on, Ashleigh.
Ashleigh: It really is, but it’s a good thing that I love branding.