About 100 people turned out at Portland Stage Company’s upscale Signature Event for three hours of programming, all in support of the company’s internship program.

“What we’re trying to do with this evening is bring you inside the work that happens here,” said Anita Stewart, executive and artistic director.

“When you come to a gala put on by a theater company, you are guaranteed to be entertained,” said author Monica Wood, who served as honorary chair of the fundraiser happening midway through the run of her first play, “Papermaker.”

“I am having the time of my life,” Wood said. “I’ve had a wonderful writing career. But the last five weeks have been the most joyful five weeks of my entire professional writing career because of the cast and crew of ‘Papermaker.’ ”

And the cast and crew praised Wood in return. “She writes real dialogue so it feels like real people,” said Daniel Noel, who plays Ernie in “Papermaker.” “It’s the role of a lifetime.”

“Tonight brings people together to celebrate the institution, and it also generates funds for our internship program,” said Martin Lodish, finance director. Ten – sometimes 11 – interns per year work full time at Portland Stage from August through May, receiving a stipend as well as housing.

“So often working in the arts is such a privilege that it’s only an option for the privileged,” said stage management intern Alex Kimmel. “It’s programs like this that level the playing field.”

“We ask them to be immediate professionals, from moment one,” said Ron Botting, an affiliate artist with the theater company. “They are the heart and soul of what goes on here every day.… I can’t say enough about how important they are.”

“These young people work so hard I call them the worker bees,” Wood said, specifically thanking two interns working on “Papermaker,” Patty Garvey, assistant stage manager, and Lucy Walker, assistant director.

“Every intern from my year is working full time professionally in a theater,” said JJ Peeler, who now works at Portland Stage as a social media and marketing associate.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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