In order to make it in the world of showbiz, one must “Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle”, as Billy Flynn says in the musical Chicago. No matter if you’re under the lights or behind the curtains, it is important to always provide your best work- even when you have little to work with. As the Production Management Intern at Speakeasy Stage Company, this summer I have indeed learned to both “razzle” and “dazzle”.
Though I have had experience in onstage and backstage work prior to this summer, these past few months have opened my eyes to the world of theater administration -a fundamental sequin of razzling and dazzling audiences that many forget to acknowledge. I have learned how to complete weekly finance reports, write journal entries for box office revenue, and comprehend 990s. My advisor blew my mind when he introduced me to ‘Quickbooks’, a computer program that houses all the financial information of a company who chooses to use it. (You would not believe the millions of numbers, codes, and breakdowns of every dollar spent.) I even set up sound equipment and new desktops complete with essential software programs for the office, something I never expected to do while working in theater.
Theater administrators are often tasked with as many jobs as what multiple employees would be hired to do at a non-art company. While theater employees love and value the work they do, they are also well aware that they must make every dollar count because there is not an ounce of sparkle to spare. This being said, it is important to know your worth as an employee- something I learned at Speakeasy’s weekly ‘How to Get Hired’ seminars for interns. As an intern, one should always be on the lookout for new tasks to learn because doing such demonstrates your hard work ethic. However, as an employee, one should be aware of his/her/their compensation in relation to the jobs they are hired to do. If a company is asking for more than what they are paying, the job may not be a good fit. This is something I was aware of in the workplace, but never related to the theater scene. I always assumed to do as much work as possible because theater jobs are hard to come by.
Lucky for production interns, not every day is spent in the office. I got to participate in striking a set from a past production. I learned how to take down stage lights, something that was on my list to learn for the summer. A ‘color blast’ is a rectangular light that literally blasts the stage with color. In contrast, a ‘leko’, also known as a ‘Source 4’, provides directed light. Learning the lingo is certainly beneficial when demonstrating your worth as an intern. I also had to breakdown the platforms of which the audience’s seats are placed because we had to set the theater in a new configuration for the next production. Working alongside me for the day was a man who also works as a sound designer. Throughout the day he described various tasks he does in sound and offered to show me equipment on the next show he would work on. The more outgoing and helpful you are, the more people you will meet who will be all the more willing to help you!
I was also invited to sit in on the first creative meeting for our upcoming production, Choir Boy. (It was on Broadway this past season!) The director explained the role of the audience, the set designer brainstormed transitions between scenes and production management considered what type of choreographer to hire- all of which were essential to putting on that razzle dazzle. I was mesmerized listening to everyone on the creative team discussing the vision of the show. A couple days later, the marketing department asked for extra hands in setting up equipment for an interview with the director. I have knowledge on how to do that since my dad is a photographer, so I pitched in. Because I helped in a department other than my own, I was asked if I’d like to learn about filming/photo editing software! (Another activity to check off on my bucket list!)
The harder you work to help a company shine, the more opportunities they will give you to do so. After all, if you can’t razzle and dazzle yourself, how can you expect others to do the same?
Amy Ollove ’21