Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What the heck do I know about running a theatre?

I don't usually respond to anonymous challenges, but this commenter makes a fair point in response to Friday's post about the Elks debacle. I'm putting up a new post because Friday will soon scroll off the front page.

The commenter says:

You state previously, the editor gives no reason except they said so, yet you do the same thing on this piece. What is your expertise here?

You're right, I basically assumed that everyone knows how long I've been working this row.

I've been a technical theatre professional since 1972. I joined IATSE while still in high school, and after college I worked as stage manager to the Grand Rapids (MI) Children's Civic Theatre for three years as my first regular gig. Over the decades I've handled every job in theatre but makeup, from loading trucks to business and artistic management, to method training for actors, to the pit.

My last major gig was designing, building and managing the first two seasons of Arizona Classical Theatre, which involved building the largest temporary structures ever to appear on the Square and Granite Creek Park. Unlike most theatre operations, when I was managing everyone got paid. Not much, but everyone.

I've performed in and produced or helped produce many shows at the Elks, including the musicians' benefit for Katrina victims.

I got involved with the Elks issue when I was a board director on the Prescott Area Arts & Humanities Council, and we were invited into the discussion when Prescott College abandoned its lease and the Arizona Foundation was looking to unload the theatre. Along with other theatre and arts professionals, I looked into the integrity of the building and its economic viability, resulting in a PAAHC recommendation that the City reacquire the Elks and turn its operation over to a nonprofit to run.

The City Council under Mayor Sam Steiger took our ideas and tossed out the parts that would make it work. There's a long story there and since, but I'll skip that rant for now.

A few years ago I wrote an overview to help clarify the situation at the Elks for Read It Here, part of which is still online here.

I still work occasionals as a stagehand at Yavapai College Performance Hall, just to keep my hand in. It's not something you give up before you're dead.

I hope this answers the question.

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