Southeast Missouri State University student Francesca Bucci is combining her passion for comedy and public relations this summer as a marketing and design intern at Stage773 in Chicago, Illinois.

Bucci, a senior double majoring in mass media, public relations option, and theatre, acting option, from Gurnee, Illinois, says she feels right at home on the stage, bringing beloved characters to life and even making audiences laugh and forget their worries for a little while. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the curtain, and Bucci is getting a front row seat to see what it takes to run a successful performance and tenant venue.


Stage773’s four stages provide a wide array of entertainment, including comedy, theatre, dance, musicals and more. As a marketing and design intern, Bucci assists Stage773’s marketing coordinator with a variety of projects.

“My daily routine is coming into the office and aiding the marketing coordinator with what she is working on from designs to research,” Bucci said.

She’s learned about the importance of social media research and analytics and creating a social media strategy.

“A lot of these projects have been challenging, but thankfully the marketing coordinator is so understanding and helpful. She is really helpful and is bursting with ideas for Stage773 at all times,” Bucci said. “The biggest advice she has given me is organization. She said that it’s the only way she can keep everything straight when she is the only person at a smaller company.”

Highlights of her internship have been the opportunity to assist with casting, communicate with sponsors and promote efforts for Stage773’s 2019 Chicago Women’s Funny Fest.

The Chicago Women’s Funny Fest, scheduled for Aug. 22-25, gathers writers, performers and comedy lovers of all genders together to create and celebrate in the comedy capital of the world. Bucci is helping make sure the Fest is a success for its performers and Stage773.

Bucci’s sketch comedy group, “Spork Nation,” which she helped found during her sophomore year at Southeast, performed in the 2018 Chicago Women’s Funny Fest. “Spork Nation” will perform this year too and as earned a spot in the lineup Sunday, Aug. 25.

Bucci is also assisting in research projects involving finding women-owned businesses and drafting emails with an attached pamphlet with demographic and sponsor packages that may be purchased.

She also helped design Instagram stories for a “Meet the Producers” campaign, currently featured on @chiwomensfunnyfest.

“Right now, we are working on creating a poster as well as postcards for Chicago Women’s Funny Festival. This has really put my Adobe Creative Cloud skills to the challenge,” she said.

Working with everyone at Stage773 has been the best part of her internship, Bucci said.

“We are a smaller group of people, so we have a lot of fun in the office. It’s very exciting to work with a bunch of other creative people to promote an event that I love so much,” she said.

Bucci credits her success at Stage773 to the experiences she’s had at the Southeast River Campus and the Department of Mass Media’s public relations courses and faculty.

In addition to creating “Spork Nation,” she also leads a student-improv group, “Dramatically Incorrect.” Southeast’s Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance has also given her opportunities to perform and hone her craft, including several supporting roles in Southeast’s River Campus productions, and her first leading role in last year’s production of “Our Town.” Bucci is also preparing to direct her first play, “Tony N Tina’s Wedding,” as part of the River Campus’ student productions this fall.

“My biggest preparation for this internship was having Dr. Sarah Cavanaugh as my ‘Strategic Production’ course professor,” Bucci said. “She really pushed me hard. I would create materials for my sketch comedy group as part of assignments, and while I was getting frustrated sometimes, Sarah encouraged me to just keep trying and to find an internship like this to increase my skills. She was right, and I’m so happy I’m at this internship.”

Bucci, who expects to graduate from Southeast in May 2020, plans to move to and launch her career in Chicago. Her experiences with Stage773 and the opportunities to network with local theatres and other theatre companies combined with her experiences at Southeast have helped prepare her for the skills and knowledge she’ll need to succeed.