Pro, or Re, Ductive

So, I find myself, the day after tech, with a reasonably clean inbox. And, of course, an extremely not-clean house.

Once tech has been run, once I know that we can do our load-in and load-out and we’ve got all the properties in place, the show essentially moves to the actors. The writer and the director still have a lot of work to do, there are gonna have to be cuts and pacing still needs to be pushed, but essentially, we’re closing in on the actors having the responsibility for carrying the show across the finish line.

I used to both love and hate this time as an actor. You know the show is in your hands, but the whole team is still hanging on you, metaphorically licking their thumbs and wiping dirt off your face. I never felt fully comfortable, fully calm, until we got our half hour call the day of opening. There is a thing that happens between you and an audience that can’t happen in rehearsal, a conversation, and the best of us knew how to deliver on our end. As much as rehearsal prepares you for the performance, your work has only barely begun before the curtain (if there is one) rises.

It’s strange that, as a producer, I have to work hard to conjure up feelings of melancholy for those times. I have a two fold job, I have to deliver the show to the actors (so that they can deliver it to the audience) and I have to deliver the audience to the production (so that they can respond to the cast). A story exists on the page, and a producer has to bring together the team that tells the story, and the team that listens. Half of that job is done, and the other half is almost too ineffable to quantify. It is certainly not something one can do for every production, it has to happen over many stories and many years of producing.

So, I shift back to that, fully, today. After carrying the couch into the rehearsal space, my job with them is done, and tonight I go to meet with a big group of other like-minded producers, to talk about what we’re doing, to talk about what excites us, and to talk about the two jobs.

It’s a really exciting time to be a producer on our level in New York. If you want to raise a hundred thousand dollars and produce a giant trilogy, you certainly may, but if you want to raise three grand and produce a small, important (to you) story, you can do that too. Fifteen years ago, there was no Fringe Festival… and now there are about ten summer festivals, many of them with very serious marketing and fantastic big-time production values.

It’s sad to go from 75 or 80 emails a day, from other producers, from the venue director, from the festival, from the stage manager and the director, down to having five emails in my inbox (including one from my mom!), but…

I saw the show last night at tech. I was on-book for a stretch, and I found myself trying to breathe so I wouldn’t fall apart. When we make off-off theater, we fall in love with our scripts, we can’t help it, but last night I was just transported. We’ve won some awards and we’ve had some really cool nominations, so is it possible that this might be the best thing we’ve ever produced? I certainly feel like I’m smarter and more mature now than I have ever been before, maybe we will just consistently get better and better as we go. I don’t know, I’m too close to everyone involved.

But, as the guy at the top of the pyramid (at least on this show) I have a deep satisfaction for what the rest of the team has done. Every single person has been a gigantic pain in the ass at some point (myself included), but we’re all getting better at letting that roll off our backs, and focusing on all that has gone so well. There have been times in the past where what we wanted to say was unclear, but this time, people’s opinions of the show will be based on the show, not on our lack of ability to pull off the production.


As I wrote this blog, I got a call from the venue director, which required a flurry of texts between myself and the stage manager. It really is the thing I love most about the theater – as soon as you begin to feel magical and transported, someone will come to you with a plunger and ask you to fix the toilet. It’s a lovely parallel to life…