Q&A with Johanna Breiding and Andrew Protopapas

Last year, we welcomed Johanna Breiding and Andrew Protopapas to the CATCO family as apprentices, and this year we are happy to share that they have returned—this time as full-time staff members! Let's get to know Andrew and Johanna!

Q: How did you hear about the CATCO apprenticeship?
Andrew: A good friend of mine, Emily Turner, was an acting apprentice the year before I was. She spoke highly of the program and is the reason I looked into CATCO more.
Johanna: I was accepted into a CATCO internship while I was attending classes at Columbus State. My instructor and mentor, Frank Barnhart set it up. During the internship, I worked as the Assistant Stage Manager for a CATCO is KIDS show, Isabella e la Bestia and acquired college credit. Through this opportunity, I met the current CATCO apprentices and learned about what exactly they did for the company. Working with Joe Bishara directly is what solidified my desire to be a part of the CATCO family, and thanks to him, I can now proudly say I am.

Q: What is your title and role within the CATCO staff?
Andrew: I am an Artist Educator. I work with Joe Bishara to set up residencies and educational programming at schools in and around Columbus. Many of our residencies are playwriting and acting programs at "at-risk" schools in Columbus. We use drama to help students understand the material that they are learning in their classes. I have also been helping with summer camp planning and social media. Additionally, I spend some time building sets in the scene shop.
Johanna: I am CATCO's Production Technician, which means I work in many of our departments and perform a lot of different tasks. I do, however, spend a large amount of my work days in our scene shop. I can also be found doing Stage Managing for the CATCO is KIDS shows and working with our Master Electrician.

Q: What was your most embarrassing moment as a CATCO apprentice?
Johanna: I'm not quite sure that I can remember a "most embarrassing moment" but whatever that moment was I am pretty sure Steven Anderson caught it on tape. He never misses a good picture.
Andrew: We had a live television appearance to promote A Christmas Carol last year. While being interviewed, I decided to try cracking a joke that I thought was hilarious. I made the joke. No one laughed. It would have been the perfect time for crickets to chirp. Luckily, I recovered and kept going, but I was definitely embarrassed.

Q: How do you think your apprenticeship prepared you for full-time employment with CATCO?
Andrew: The apprenticeship program helped both refine and expand my skills as a theatre professional. I learned how to do a little bit of everything, and I improved the things that I could already do. Since the beginning of my apprenticeship, I thought CATCO's educational work in the schools was one of the most important things that we do. I am beyond blessed that I get to work in that capacity with the company.
Johanna: I became accustomed to working with professional technicians, actors and directors in a setting that was very different than the community theatre world I was used to. I learned invaluable technical skills from our Master Electrician, Keya Myers-Alkire, our Technical Director, Joe Wolfle Jr. and our shop foreman, Greg Sutton. Mostly, my apprenticeship taught me that I was well-suited to work in live theatre.

Q: What made you want to continue your experience as part of the CATCO family?
Johanna: Working in live professional theatre can be tough to really accomplish, but when you come across a company like CATCO who is willing and eager to mentor and teach their apprentices enough to the point of full-time employment, you see how devoted they all are. It is a company full of friends, teachers, mentors, and hard workers. When asked if I would be interested in becoming staff it was really a no brainer.
Andrew: I think the answer is in the question. CATCO is family. It's always felt like a second home to me. Plus, the company is made up of some of the most passionate people who seek to create quality art and provide invaluable educational opportunities. Being around them makes me not only a better artist, but also a better human, and at the end of the day, isn't that what art itself is all about?

The CATCO Acting Apprenticeship Program provides an opportunity for recent college graduates to have a real experience working with a professional theatre company. Right now, CATCO has named two apprenticeships for patrons who have shown generous support for and engagement with CATCO for many years—Ms. Kitty Morton Epler and The Crane Group.