Theatre & Dance

Staging History

  • Alex Foxwell mimics a steely-eyed James Madison at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
    Alex Foxwell mimics a steely-eyed James Madison at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
July 31, 2013
Two summer internships in Philadelphia allow Alex Foxwell ’16 to combine his interests in drama and history.

Alex Foxwell ‘16 would just as much enjoy reading about the Baltimore Plot of 1861 as he would Death of a Salesman. So when the drama and history major started thinking about how to spend his summer break, he didn’t to choose pursuing one of his passions over the other: he decided to try them both.

Foxwell is dividing his time between two internships in Philadelphia this summer. Once a week, he works at Philadelphia Young Playwrights, developing and evaluating programs that foster creativity in the classroom. The rest of the week he interns with the National Constitution Center, where he conducts research and works for various programs through the education department.

“This is my first time really working in an office setting, but it is also the first time I have found something to do in my desired career field,” Foxwell says. “I absolutely love what I am doing this summer—especially because, if you can’t tell, I like to keep myself extremely busy.”

One of Foxwell’s closest mentors, drama department chair Michele Volansky, connected him with PYP education director and Washington College alumna Mindy Beers Early ’01. Director of the C.V. Starr Center Adam Goodheart, another of Foxwell’s mentors, helped him find the internship with the Constitution Center.

“This summer, those two relationships have really come together to create my area of interest,” he says. “Also it helps that the drama department and the Starr Center are so tight—I think that we have forged a lasting connection between the two.”

Foxwell’s work at PYP can be challenging at times; it’s helping him develop a deeper sense of how these activities can be implemented effectively.

“At PYP, I have discovered the importance of relating activities to the present—some of the activities I have seen date to 1987 and don’t exactly apply to kids born between 1996 and 2005,” he says.

He spends half of his time at the Constitution Center conducting research on Hillary Clinton, the recipient of the 2013 Liberty Medal. His research will be catalogued and used to build the award program in September. The rest of the time, he works directly on the museum floor, running various educational programs and historical discussions.

“I have learned so much about gender inequities within politics and public life just by researching one prominent figure in American history and politics,” he says.

“The most challenging aspects about both internships have been evaluating sources and/or activities. It’s hard to assess credibility sometimes, but that is why you have all day to comb through what you need to! Also that’s why both projects have been pretty self-guided, with checkpoints along the way,” he says.

Combining both of his passions and examining how they connect outside of the classroom has helped Foxwell evaluate his long-term goals. He’s considering a variety of post-graduate possibilities, from secondary education to museum theater, and his internships have helped him discover innovative new ways to integrate history and theater.

“In terms of furthering my interest, I’ve been developing a real appreciation for museum theater and devised theater in particular,” he says. “For me, history is all about breathing new life into old and dusty ideas, and the stage is the perfect place to get history up and on its feet.”

Last modified on Sep. 17th, 2013 at 11:30am by .