Wednesday, July 3, 2013

T - 5 Days (i.e. Putting It Together)

By Victoria Chatfield (Executive Director)

Less than a week until orientation and everyone's working overtime to get everything done. I just had a meeting with Kayleen this afternoon about how to start getting our company members involved with this blog. (Hopefully, you'll be reading some exciting guest posts soon!) I've spent all day creating the orientation manual, a 12-page document that provides information about our mission, our core values, our company structure, and other fascinating tidbits that everyone wants to read about. (If you've ever read an employee handbook, you know what I'm talking about. They're necessary -- but a New York Times bestseller they ain't.)

As a producer, you have an incredible opportunity to create a company culture before anyone even steps into a rehearsal room. One of the first things that we did at NTSA was to create a list of company member core values. We were inspired by Teach For America's core values, the ones that we learned during our induction, before we started teaching. These values, like respect and humility (otherwise known as R&H) and the relentless pursuit of results, had a major impact on who we became as people. So we thought: What do we want our rehearsals to look like? What do we want our productions to look like? And then we worked backwards from there.

Our company member core values are:

Yes, they spell out CPR. Yes, acrostics are cheesy. But I feel like this one kind of fits. These core values are what bring this company to life. (Stick me with me here.) I've watched tons of start-up companies sputter out and perish because their members didn't believe in these three fundamentals. Community means that we respect every single member of the company, that we respect other student and adult artists who are working towards the difficult task of creating theater, and that we respect our audiences and their opinions. Professionalism means that we're working to create off-Broadway productions that are just as strong as anything that more adult-oriented companies create. It also means that we act like the professionals that we are at all times -- inside and outside of the rehearsal studio. Risk-Taking means that we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. (Didn't Anne Bogart once say that all great work comes from vulnerability -- and the resultant terror?) We work to make the rehearsal studio a safe space where everyone can take risks and create outstanding work.

Think about what you want your rehearsals to look like. What's important to you as an artist? What's important to you as a leader? Use whatever's important to you to help create the core values that your company will need to be successful.

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