Working In The Theatre

I had one of those questions about my job today.

The question: “Now, if I come by on Thursday, you guys probably don’t get in until about 7, right?”
(Variants on this question are:, “That’s your full time job!? But what do you do?”, or “Oh, you’re there during the day… what do you do during the DAY?”, or my favorite, “But what’s your real job?”)

The thing is, most of the time this question comes along and it’s just an honest question – that person just doesn’t know what the hours of a theatre staff are, or what they may be doing during the non-performance hours. That’s fine, I mean – I have no idea what a lot of jobs entail. This question, when asked, can A) excite me and make me want to share what I do, or B) make me get loud and stabby, or C) convince me that there’s no hope for our industry and that I should be a hermit. It all depends on my mood at the time and, even more importantly, the attitude of the person asking it.

Today, the woman was very polite and surprised to find out we were there starting at 10am.

So I was thinking about this, and it occurred to me to list some of the things on my current list of “This is what I do during the day”, just for fun!


Set up Production Meetings for the next show. (These happen regularly, often weekly, anywhere from 9 to 12 weeks prior to Opening Night. And, since there’s always a ‘next show’, this is non-stop).
Finalize the cast changes for the show AFTER next.
Find a tuxedo place that will loan us a tux for the next show.
Prepare the building for rehearsals to begin on Tuesday for the next show.
Distribute the info about the next couple of productions to the local artists groups, so the art gallery will be full for those shows.
Handle the details of the SOLD artwork from this show.
Get the monitor speaker fixed.
Schedule/organize/staff the set strike (tear down) of the current set, and the construction of the next one.
Sell our old light board.
Write the two letters of recommendation I’ve been asked to write.
Do the union paperwork for the 3 women joining the Equity Membership Candidate program.
Finalize the details of the series of staged readings we’re planning. (Casts, directors, budgets, schedules.)
Plan the next Acting Class for adults. (Schedules, marketing, instructor, cost/budget)
Plan the next Acting Class for young people. (Schedules, marketing, instructor, cost/budget)
Clarify the contract details for our upcoming co-production.
Prepare for my rehearsals that start at the end of March, when I begin directing at another theatre.
Prepare for the 1st production meeting, tomorrow, for the show I’ll be directing at another theatre that begins rehearsals in 5 weeks.
Read the plays on my desk.
Order other plays, to put on my desk, so that I can read them later.
Select next season’s 6 productions.

(To select next season, we have to do the following:)
Read a lot of plays.
Weigh “comedy”, “tragedy”, “musical” and all the other genres to try and create a balanced season.
Weigh “Family Friendly”, “Adult Content”, “Light entertainment”, “Political/social issue” categories, to try and create a balanced season.
Consider the size of the casts, for budget reasons.
Consider the roles in the show: Can we effectively cast each role?
Examine the production requirements: Can we do the show effectively in our space, with our budgets?
Weigh every play against our Mission Statement: Are we adhering to that a majority of the season?
Take into account collaborations with Michigan State University, as well as several professional theatres in the state.
Consider our audience – what do they respond to, what can we sell, what would they like to see.
Consider our artists – what moves them, what are they moved to create and work on?
Finalize next years season.

(After finalizing the season, we must do the following things:)
Confirm that the rights to the shows are available.
Secure the rights to each show.
Set up auditions for each show.
Hire a director, a whole design team, a stage manager and crew for each show.
Create a budget for each show.
Decide how to market each show.
Decide how to market the season as a whole.
Market each show.
Create contracts (union and non-union) for each position in each show.

Get the Foyer painted and re-decorated.
Organize the theatre’s involvement in the elementary school “Arts Night” that we’ve been asked to participate in.
Get the Light/Sound booth cleaned, and have another window put in to improve Stage Management visibility.
Clean the theatre, vacuum the seats.
Get a lumber rack built in the basement.
Create better lighting equipment storage.

And this list doesn’t include long term goals like: Get the support poles in the theatre removed and replaced with beams, have the bathrooms renovated, increase seating once the bathrooms are renovated, move the light/sound booth, organize the scene shop, etc.. etc…

So, to answer the question:

We’re in between 9:30 and 11am most days… and, yes, there are things for me to do during the day.

And I appreciate you being interested enough to ask. 🙂

10 thoughts on “Working In The Theatre

    1. 🙂
      I’m not complaining, of course.
      Nor am I bragging.
      My list looks like the lists of many Artistic Directors in the state, and it’s no busier than that of many administrators, actors, designers or freelancers or any other artist working to make a living. Sometimes it just surprises me that folks don’t realize that!
      But that’s okay – just one more challenge to tackle!

    1. You know what, that’s a thing that I think we need to address! I don’t think there IS a submission policy on there yet!
      A.S., for you, go ahead and email me a script to the email address on the website!

  1. interesting… and all this time we thought you just played tape ball against the wall for hours on end…

  2. Toot! Toot!
    Ok, I’ll be frank. Wait, I’ll just be Gina instead. I trailed off around line 3 on your enormous list of “Crap I do all day”. Because…while I appreciate your hard working-due diligence-get the job done efforts, that was like reading French poetry. While beautifully written it’s long-winded and indulgent.
    To keep your audience, your list should look like this:
    Theatre stuff
    Drink Starbucks
    Theatre stuff
    Another Starbucks
    Theatre stuff
    Pee break
    Starbucks Round Three
    Theatre stuff
    Lunch – with a Starbucks chaser
    Theatre stuff
    Google myself for giggles
    Theatre stuff
    Pop 2 Rolaids…damn Starbucks
    Theatre stuff
    Theatre stuff
    OK, I’ll try one more Starbucks just in case…
    Theater stuff

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