CSF supporter spotlight | Acting with the Pros
As a 2021 CU Boulder graduate, Greta Hooston’s career has started in local regional theatre—right where she wanted. Her Colorado Shakespeare Festival (CSF) acting internship this summer began it all.
“The theatre industry is so small, and everyone wears so many hats, so it’s likely that some of the people I work with this summer will be the people I audition for later on,” said Hooston, who is from Salida, Colorado, and double-majored in acting and speech, language and hearing sciences. “It’s just great to be making meaningful connections with ‘The Greats’ of the local theatre scene.”
CSF acting internships grant up to four students the opportunity to act alongside professionals each summer.
“CSF has given a boost to the careers of many talented, emerging artists over the years,” said the festival’s producing artistic director Tim Orr. “It can be painfully difficult to get that first professional gig after college. But this program exists to fill that need for CU theatre students.”
The internships receive funding from five endowments, the first of which was established in 2016, supported by several longtime Shakespeare enthusiasts.
Siblings Anne and Sam Sandoe have been around CSF their entire lives. Their father, CU librarian and English instructor James Sandoe, directed “Romeo and Juliet” on the Mary Rippon stage in 1944.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of Anne’s first time on the Mary Rippon stage, when she played a young fairy in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Sam—who after this summer will be one play away from acting in Shakespeare’s entire canon—fondly recalls his early roles as a banner holder or doomed soldier.
Their endowment honors their father’s legacy.
“We were thinking of supporting a visiting artist, then the internship program came up and I thought, ‘What a terrific opportunity,’” Anne said. “Growing up around the festival, I learned a tremendous amount from being around actors who were very experienced.”
Sam added: “In a way, we came through it as interns ourselves.”
Ben and Pattie Nelson began contributing to the internship program five years ago. The couple established their endowment in honor of Ben’s late parents, who were loyal supporters of CU performing arts and CSF. Ben’s mother was a high school English teacher in Westminster, Colorado, who brought her students to the Mary Rippon Theatre to perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in the late 1950s, prior to the formation of CSF.
“Her students performing on the Rippon stage as amateurs was something Mom was always proud of,” said Ben.
The Nelsons have enjoyed watching the students act alongside professionals—and seeing where the experience lands them after. One of the interns, who happened to be one of Pattie’s former elementary, middle and high school music students, acted in the festival for two seasons, and after his CSF internship, he began acting in Los Angeles.
“To be able to act in something as timeless as Shakespeare and alongside some of the world’s greatest theatre professionals—it’s unparalleled,” said Ben.
As former editor of a CU newspaper the Silver & Gold Record, students have always been at the heart of Susan Barney Jones’ work. She wanted to highlight them more in the festival.
“I always think the students should be supported,” she said. “Everything from being actors to the behind-the-scenes production.”
Like Anne Sandoe, Susan’s first Shakespeare role was in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when she was in elementary school.
CSF is her top philanthropic priority, as it allows the university to contribute meaningfully to the community.
She said: “I think the festival is one of the stars of the whole campus.”