For a student who loves to make things, City Theatre was a goldmine of opportunity for Kyesi Shackelford.

Kyesi with his City Theatre Mentors.
From L to R: David Maslow, Paul Ford, Tony Ferrieri, Kyesi Shackelford, and Alex Barnhart

When Kyesi Shackelford came to City Charter High School, he wasn’t too thrilled about the prospects of doing an internship as a graduation requirement. Not because he didn’t want to get real world experience. Kyesi just felt that there would be no chance to find something in engineering – his first love.

City High’s Kyesi Shackelford leaves for Pitt Johnstown in the fall pursuing a Mechanical Engineering major.

But an internship is more than that. According to mentor, City Theatre’s Tony Ferrieri, “It was a learning experience. Which is the purpose of an internship – to get experience working, because it’s sort of a job. They learn they need to communicate, to work with their fellow workers, to be on time. . .learning all the things that we all have to do when we get out there in the workforce.” 

Kyesi experience making things has already come in handy on the City High Robotics Team. He’s was on the team for the last two years and this year’s Steam Punk competition at Cal Tech featured his team’s work.

While at the City Theatre Set Department, Kyesi demonstrated maturity and initiative. As Mr. Ferrieri puts it, “Ky was great. (Also City High’s Alex Jacobs and Deanna Wanek– those three were the best we’ve ever had. Bar none! Very engaged, interested in what they were doing, had initiative. . . and really interested in learning what our process was. Can’t ask for a better review than that.” 

City High has placed interns at the City Theatre for about the last 10 years. Mr. Ferrieri says, “We’ve had other high school interns – from CAPA and Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, but lately most of our internships are from City High because they have such an organized program.” Actually, City Theatre has had interns in many departments: sound, lighting, set design, costume shop, props… pretty much every area of production. Even in Theatre Administration, working on development and education (developing programs to go to schools to teach playwriting, young playwright festival, etc.). It’s a partnership that works, especially for mature students like Kysei looking for hands-on experience in the real world.


“Ky was great. (Also City High’s Alex Jacobs and Deanna Wanek– those three were the best we’ve ever had. Bar none! Very engaged, interested in what they were doing, had initiative. . . and really interested in learning what our process was.”—Mentor Tony Ferrieri, Director of Production/Resident Scenic Designer

About City Theatre

Founded in 1975, City Theatre began as the City Players, a touring company that performed in schools, parks, and housing projects. Eventually they were in residence with the Public Theatre in the old Hazlitt Theatre on the North Side. By the end of the decade, the City Players were offered residency at the University of Pittsburgh, and, with an official home, City Theatre was born.

The original company of actors were also members of the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival. In 1991, City Theatre moved to the South Side (in a unique building that used to be a church). The season opened with Bricklayers by famed Pittsburgh playwright, Elvira DiPaolo.Today City Theatre is known nationally for producing imaginative, contemporary American works, and sponsoring young talent in this area.


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