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Secret Producer Series #4: From Intern to Producer

This week we sat down with yet another one of the industry’s top producers to see how they got started in the industry!

Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice for theater makers right now?

A: Stay creative – So often we’re running from meeting to meeting and overwhelmed with the day-to-day operation of the current project in front of us that we rarely have time to read scripts, find source material, commission new writers, check star availability and so forth.  A lot of that falls on the back burner, so with more time on my hands, I’ve been researching and developing future projects that spark creativity, even with the unknowns as far as timing, funding and when the project will actually get off the ground. 

Q: What was the biggest mistake you ever made working in the theater?

A: Not trusting my gut. So often in commercial theater our instinct is to trust our brain versus our heart as far as what project may be successful.  However, some of the financial failures I worked on looked great on paper and didn’t necessarily move me emotionally, while some of my biggest successes were the ones I HAD to be involved with because of the art versus the numbers. 

Q: How did you get your very first job in theater?

A: Interning in a flashy Broadway office, which eventually led to a full-time position. I knew that I would have to hustle as far as making my bills with the small weekly stipend, but even doing the menial chores such as sorting mail and filing contracts was a huge learning opportunity and having mentors in the office that were established in the field have now become industry connections I remain close with years later.

Q: What advice do you have to theater makers just starting out?

A: Go for it. Find artists and creative people that excite you and collaborate to create anything. Take every meeting – you never know what that coffee date could turn into.

Q: How do you think COVID will affect the theater long-term?

A: I think in the short term, we’re going to have to wait it out until science gives us a go-ahead, most likely a vaccine. Commercial theater is unlike other business that has been affected in that we need a build-up of time (months even) where ticket buyers are planning in advance and spending money knowing they have something to look forward to. We can’t just open our doors on a Tuesday of the same week and expect 8,000 people to walk up excited to return – we need time for marketing, strategic planning, and building up advances. Long term, I think we’ll have to look at the business model and see how we can make more shows financially viable considering fundraising will likely be more challenging.

Q: What’s your biggest regret working in the theater?

A: None so far, luckily. Even in the middle of a pandemic, I’m grateful that every day I wake up and am excited to go to work. Surely there are more lucrative fields out there with similar skill sets, so I think if anyone regrets working in the theater, they would have found something new by now!

Q: What does a day in your career look like?

A: What I love about my job is that no two days are ever the same. Sure, they’ll always be meetings and phone calls and some weekly routine, but some days I’m at my computer all day doing administrative catch up, and then the next day I’ll be in a tech rehearsal checking in on a show. It keeps things exciting and fresh that way!

Got a question for a secret producer? Contact us at support@theatermakersstudio.com

 

P.S. We just announced that our annual conference is going virtual this year! Click here to grab your ticket and hear even more tips from top producer’s like this one!

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