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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


A Life In The Theatre
Associate Producer & Company Manager
Maltz Jupiter Theatre

Rachel Blavatnik

Also see other installments:
Choreographer | Director of Marketing | Sound Designer | Scenic Designer
Director of Volunteers | Director of Education | Director | Stage Manager | Performing Arts Fundraiser | Executive Artistic Director | Costume Designer

This is the third in a series of interviews with theatre professionals in non-performing careers.

Theatre Arts Management is a growing concern as many theatres come and go every year. Several universities have added a Theatre Arts Management degree to their curriculum. With a huge entertainment industry that brings so much directly to us via television and the internet, it can be a challenge to motivate audiences to come to view live theatre instead. What brings business professionals to find a home for their skills in the performing arts?

John Lariviere: What education, experience and training do you have that best prepared you for this job?
Rachel Blavatnik: I have a BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, with an emphasis in Playwriting. My writing has taught me to be a great observer of human nature, which helps me deal with all of the personalities when things get stressful. My writing also helps me see the humorous side when things get stressful.

My first professional theatre job was on the running crew of the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. I worked directly with the actors. I learned a lot about what makes creative people "tick," and what special needs they have in order to perform at their very best. When I interviewed for what was to be my first company manager's job at a theatre in New England, my understanding of how to take care of the creative team is what not only got me the job, but helped me be successful at that theatre.

At the Maltz Jupiter Theatre I was able to take the next step and get involved with the casting and contracting process for both the cast and creative team. This helps me get an overview of what it takes to put a show together. I have been at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre since its first season and have been lucky enough to see the impressive growth and positive steps forward the theatre has taken since I joined the team three years ago.

JL: What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your position?
RB: Being a regional theatre means we have to hire some actors from outside of our area. We produce five large-scale productions a year. We generally have about 90 visiting artists throughout our season. We have to find a way to house everyone in a way that is comfortable for our guests but doesn't blow our budget. We house most of the out of town artists in three-bedroom apartments, where they have their own bedrooms, but have to share bathrooms and kitchens with the other members of the company. I have to take personalities, age and gender into consideration when putting roommates together. A great reward is when all roommates are getting along. Another great reward is that the condos the theatre rents are quickly getting a reputation for being some of the best housing in regional theatre.

JL:In what way, if any, does this job differ from a similar position outside of the arts?
RB: At the core roots of my job, I am an administrator. I have a lot of computer time and a lot of paperwork to do on a daily basis. It is my responsibility to make sure contracts are signed and distributed to the right people, make sure people are getting their paychecks, and that accounting is getting what they need in order for everything to flow correctly. Outside of the arts there are jobs similar to mine, and they probably have better hours, but there is something magical about being a part of a producing theatre. Five times a year I get to assist my Artistic Director in putting together an intricate puzzle of directors, choreographers, designers, actors and musicians to produce five top-notch shows. And when the audience applauds the curtain call on opening night, it makes me happy to know that I have been a part of the whole experience.

JL: What type of person is best suited for this job? What would you look for if you were hiring someone for this position?
RB: You really have to have a passion for theatre and not be afraid of hard work and long hours. You must have a kind and generous nature and a great sense of humor. On any given day my job description runs the gambit of administrator, counselor, chauffeur, cook and even maid. I would look for someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, and still be able to smile at the end of the day.

JL: What are your plans and goals for the future?
RB: I'd like to continue working in theater, continuing my career as a producer. This is the most rewarding job that I have ever had, and I am looking forward to where the future takes me.


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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