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 A day with an Illinois Shakespeare Festival student intern 

Picture of Christian Friedan.

Christian Frieden dressed for his first rehearsal of the day.

On a cloudy Wednesday afternoon in the middle of summer, Illinois Shakespeare Festival intern Christian Frieden prepared for a busy day of rehearsals.

Dressed in majestic Shakespearean clothing and unafraid of the potential rain, Frieden began with his first outdoor rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty. That show is part of the festival’s Theatre for Young Audiences program, which presents free family-friendly productions each summer.

Frieden, along with his fellow Sleeping Beauty cast members, sat in a circle and reflected on their days before doing some voice exercises. They smile and laugh together; it’s apparent they love what they do.

Frieden is one of the 24 students who landed a coveted internship this summer at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, a nationally acclaimed Equity summer theatre operated by the School of Theatre and Dance. Students like Frieden get the opportunity to work side-by-side with theatre professionals.

Originally from Moline, Illinois, Frieden became interested in acting when he starred in a production of Oliver in second grade. Now a junior at Illinois State, Frieden is double majoring in acting and theatre education with hopes to one day teach theater classes to high school students.

“In five years I would love to be the best version of myself personally and professionally.” – Christian Frieden

“In five years I would love to be the best version of myself personally and professionally,” said Frieden.

Frieden chose Illinois State after hearing a lot about the acting program. He realized there were many opportunities available that would he would not have elsewhere. Frieden’s friend told him about the internships with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and he knew that he had to go for it.

With the support of those closest to him, Frieden made the cut. The internship has been rigorous, but extremely rewarding.

“The most important thing I have learned is to always be prepared,” said Frieden.

Rain or shine, the actors and interns of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival are sure to keep their audience engaged with their passionate love of all things theatre.

The Illinois Shakespeare Festival runs through August 12.

Tickets are now on sale for the 40th season of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, featuring A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline at Ewing Theatre. The third production, I Heart Juliet, at Westhoff Theatre is already sold out.

Logan Sellers can be reached at