A Discussion with the Executive Director

In the costume shop we’ve been getting ready for the past couple of weeks for dress rehearsals, previews, and openings. “Clay Cart,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Fences,” and “Welcome, Home Jenny Sutter,” are all preparing to open the season here at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There’s been people taking on final fixes, possibly building costumes for added characters or pieces, and/or building duplicate costume pieces. I’ve been asked to do a variety of things and I can’t believe the summer build is already here. I’m going to be switched to “Comedy of Errors” once I am finished with my work on “Clay Cart.”

Today for the F.A.I.R. Forum we had Paul Michelsen the Executive Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival join us. He explained that the Executive Director and the Artistic Director work together to make decisions for the company. The Executive Director is usually involved with the business end of theatre and works with marketing, publicity, fundraising, and board of directors. This job is, as one can see, heavily involved with communication. I think that many times, people try to separate artistic and business company members in theatre, but without the financial support and sense of organization the artistic staff would obviously not be able to do their jobs. Many times people think that theatre is just creative work, but it requires a great deal of organizing, managing, and common sense.

I like how Mr. Michelsen noted that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival values excellence but constantly thinks about how it can improve. I also admire the festival’s concern for its company members and that it provides health and retirement programs to foster this concept. He also mentioned that the theatre understands heritage and realizes the foundations of the company, and that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is always constantly trying to improve and reach towards excellence. These are some of the many impressive and inspiring things I have seen at this company.

As for my fellowship, I have reached the halfway point. Two of the directing fellows are leaving soon and it’s sad to think that they’re going so soon. I’m grateful for my opportunity here and I sometimes I think, “I wanted this so badly last year and here I am making it happen.” I’m very thankful for the people I’ve met here and especially appreciative of a certain someone who sent me roses for Valentine’s Day.

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