Theatre Companies & Play Production
A Guide to Structure
Theatre Company Administrative Staff
The general structure of a theatre company is usually made up of a Board of Trustees and a Board of Directors.
The Board of Trustees is usually a group of interested community leaders, financial backers and those with specific, although not specifically theatre oriented, contributions to make to the Company - i.e. lawyers, accountants, etc. These people contribute their time, skills, financial backing, public relations expertise, or good name to promoting the general success of the Company in exchange for a seat on the Board of Trustees and the opportunity to help shape and promote the growth of the Company. This Board does not determine the artistic direction of the Company, nor does it participate in the day to day running of the Company or of the specific shows being presented by the Company, but it is a representation of the Company to the Community as a whole and the symbol of the Community's support of the Company. The Board of Directors is the group of dedicated, sometimes paid, professionals in whose hands rest the day to day administrative, financial, artistic and technical running of the Company. These positions include Managing Director and Artistic Director. Along with theses are often included the Technical Director (see Technical Staff), the Company Stage Manager (sometimes called Production Stage Manager), the Public Relations Manager, the Director of Development, Theatre Manager, House Manager (see House Staff), and, perhaps, a Literary Manager (or Dramaturg).
The Board of Directors
Managing, Executive or Producing Director
The Managing or Executive Director of a Theatre Company is the equivalent of a Producer for a show. His or her primary duty is to organize the financial and administrative elements of the company (or of a production in the case of individually produced shows). S/he is responsible for the following:
* raising money for the company or production, * obtaining the theatre and studio space for auditions, rehearsals, the building and
assembling of the technical elements and performance,
* obtaining all personnel by recruitment, audition or employment with the advice of
the director, musical director, choreographer, technical director and designers,
* preparing the budget, * signing contracts, * establishing procedure for handling income and paying expenses, * directing publicity and promotion, * supervising all business aspects of the company or production: ticket sales, house management, refreshments, programs, etc.
This is a complicated job and aspects of it may be spread among several producers at various levels, especially for individual productions or companies that operate on a show by show basis: Executive Producer - usually respponsible for raising the money and generally supervising its expenditure; Producer(s) and Associate Producers(s) - generally responsible for specific aspects of the day to day business of putting the show together. In community theatres, the Board of Directors or the company as a whole often serves this function. This is not an overly efficient method and the job is best done by one or two people with complete authority over the production of any single play.
Publicity Manager / Associate Producer
Placed in a separate catagory because the job is extensive, the Publicity Manager (or sometimes an Associate Producer) supervises all the publicity and promotion for the show. S/he is responsible for:
* preparing posters, flyers, postcards, billboards, advertising, * writing press releases and audition notices and arranging for publication, * arranging for signs and displays in the lobby or front of the theatre, * making contact with media and arranging for a Press night performance, * arranging interviews and photographs of the cast and directors, * requesting and following up on free listings in newspapers and magazines.
The Artistic Director is the person whose job it is to establish the guiding artistic direction of the Company. S/he is directly responsible, with the advice and approval of the Board of Directors, for the following:
* setting the artistic goals of the company, * choosing the season of productions, with the guidance, perhaps, of a play reading
* selecting the directors for these productions, * selecting, usually with the advice and suggestions of the play directors and the
approval of the Managing Director, the creative (and possibly technical) staff for
the individual productions,
* arranging for readings, workshops, classes; selecting the creative staff for them, * overseeing the rehearsal processes for all shows and maintaining the continued
artistic integrity of the company,
* overseeing all aspects of production and intevening, if necessary, to solve
creative problems as they appear,
* generally supervising all creative aspects of running the company.
This is probably the most important person in the company. No matter how well a Theatre Company is managed, without a farseeing, tireless, endlessly creative and diplomatically gifted Artistic Director, a company is doomed to mediocrity or failure.
Director of Development
The Director of Development, sometimes known as the Fundraising chairman, is in charge of raising funds for the support of the theatre and its programs. S/he is responsible for a variety of functions including:
* writing grants, * contacting corporations, Arts funding groups, and Foundations to solicit funds, * arranging for fundraising events (benefit performances, special events, dinners,
Company Stage Manager
Many companies with their own theatre, who have a full season of plays each year, have a Company Stage Manager. This is a person who, with his/her unique knowledge of the company, the theatre and the facilities thereof, fulfills the function of stage manager for the company. Often they actually act as Production Stage Manager (see technical staff) for all the company's productions, but even if the company hires individual stage managers for each show, the Company Stage Manager will still be responsible for:
* supervising and advising the stage managers hired for individual productions, * organizing and maintaining theatre owned props and costumes, and regulating
their use among the company's productions,
* acting as liaison between the creative and technical staffs of all of the company's
productions for the season,
* organizing and maintaining the rehearsal, building, and production schedules for
the company's productions and allowing efficient use of the facilities including
the stage, rehearsal rooms, piano, dressing rooms and other facilities.
Literary Manager (Dramaturg)
Some companies that specialize in the development and production of new plays have a Literary Manager. This is the person who reads submitted original plays and evaluates their possibilities for production. A Literary Manager may also function as a Dramaturg and aid the directors by researching plays, assisting with period, historical or stylistic problems, and generally act as Literary expert for the company.