Meet CataLST Intern Mason Livers ’20
February 18, 2019
Catawba College junior Mason Livers, a Theatre Education major, says he’s loving his spring semester experience as a CataLST intern. Through a unique partnership between the Catawba College Theatre Arts Department and Lee Street Theatre, launched in fall 2017, junior or senior Catawba Theatre Arts students have an opportunity each semester to apply for an internship at Lee Street for three hours of academic credit. Livers is happy that he applied and was selected for the opportunity.
“At Lee Street, they give the full-out experience to the audience that I love,” Livers explains. “It’s a great working environment. Craig Kolkebeck [Artistic Director] and Rod Oden [Technical Director] run a tight ship and I really love how they work. They welcomed me with open arms and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
So far this semester at Lee Street Theatre, Livers has stage managed a show, “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” that opened on January 17 and ran through January 26, and served as a teaching artist for students at Henderson Independent High School in Salisbury who are preparing to offer an original production of their own creation at Lee Street March 15-16. He’ll help them narrow down their production ideas and finalize their script. He’s also looking forward to the possibility of being cast in a role in Lee Street’s upcoming production of “Blood Done Signed My Name,” a play by Catawba College Theatre Arts alumnus Mike Wiley ’96 that opens April 18 and runs through April 27.
“Mason has grown so much as an artist and young educator since coming to Catawba. CataLST just seems like the next logical step in this growth. We are particularly excited that Lee Street is able to bring him together with accomplished alum and Blue Masque Hall of Famer, Mike Wiley. I think they have a tremendous amount to offer one another,” Catawba’s Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts Beth Homan shares.
Kolkebeck adds, "I'm so thrilled to have Mason with us as a CataLSt intern this semester. With education as the primary focus of his internship, his working with students at Henderson is right on target with where I had hoped this collaborative program would go. With the gross decline and even demise of theatre education in our school systems, there is an even greater need for theatre practitioners to get into the communities and help young minds find their voices through theatrical presentation.
“Seeing Mason's joy when he talks about what he's accomplished with the kids tells me we're right on track with where we want to head with the program. Having the secondary portion of his internship be as an actor in "Blood Done Sign My Name" is the icing on the cake."
Livers, originally from Charlotte before his family relocated to Chesterfield, Va., landed at Catawba College in tandem with a friend from high school. “I was looking to come here to play basketball and I liked the smaller college. I felt like I’d be a person here rather than a number in a seat.”
When a knee injuries changed his basketball plans, he stuck with his choice to attend Catawba due to its strong Theatre Arts reputation and offerings. He looks back on his decision without regrets and affirms his choice as a Theatre Education major pursuing a Creative Writing minor.
“Since I like to write and create things, I thought Theatre Education would serve me best. I like to create my own stuff and this gives me more opportunity to create.
“I like being in the theatre. It makes me appreciate what we do more because I see what it takes to put on a show. We’re all working together and collaborating. It’s not just a one-man show. I know that when I’m working on a show, I’m all in.”
Livers was not a child prodigy in theatre. In fact, he says, “I started theatre late – in my senior year in high school. My role as the Cowardly Lion in “Wizard of Oz” was my first show. Then, we did a show called, “A Curious Savage,” and I played a character named Jeff who suffers from PTSD. It was a very strange, but funny play, and it was very hard to stay in character.”
At Catawba, his acting roles have continued. He played the character of Matt in “Dog Sees God,” in fall 2017. Then, he was cast in the production of “Anything Goes” in spring 2018, playing a sailor. “It was my first real taste of what musical theatre was, and the first time I tap danced,” he confides. “I do dance, but I never took a class; it just came natural for me.”
During summer 2018, at the recommendation of some family members, he applied and landed an internship at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, Ga. He spent the summer as that company’s education intern, going into various schools to help conduct theatre workshops with students. He was also tapped to do a pre-show speech for the company before a production of “Dot.”
As a CataLST intern, Livers says he looks forward to continuing his theatrical experiences. “Working with Craig [Kolkebeck] on a show as an actor, and that was one of the reasons I was so interested in the internship at Lee Street. Before he casts a show, he immediately blocks the show and I like that – it makes it easy as an actor and a stage manager.”
The 22-year-old Livers has this advice for other students who seek to follow a path similar to his: “Stay grounded and patient. Not everything is going to happen to you at once. Stay level-headed and stay the course.”
Editor’s Note: In addition to the semester-long CataLST Internship collaboration between Catawba and Lee Street, 2019 marks the second year that the Catawba Music Department has been part of offerings at Lee Street Theatre. Catawba Music Instructor and Banjo Player Jeff Little will perform with the Jeff Little Trio and Catawba College Vernaculars (Catawba student musicians) at Lee Street at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 30th. For tickets, visit www.LeeStreet.org.
Catawba Theatre Arts juniors and seniors, who have passed 60 hours and met GPA and additional departmental requirements, are eligible to apply for the CataLST internship. Applicants should seek intensive professional experience in their chosen area of emphasis (acting, directing, design, stage management, and others), and desire to build additional skills and resume credit in a secondary focus area of their selection.