Producing: The Invisible Art

My Dear Blog,

I miss you. It would be hubris to believe that you miss me, with all of the other fantastical things going on out there in the internet. But ’tis true that I am poorer without you.

My recent silence is almost unprecedented, and it’s past time to break it. The perennial dilemma is whether to do the work or write about it. Historically, I’ve managed both. Lately, I’ve had to choose.

Barns from stageTomorrow, our fulltime administrative staff doubles. (From 2 to 4.) And next week, we welcome 44 artists, staff and interns. Our scenic and costume shops are up and running. Many truly and honestly exciting things will come from our corner of the musical world in the next few months; stay here, and I swear I will tell you about them.

Recently, it has taken all of my recent time and psychic energy to prepare for them, and as a producer, that is my prime responsibility. Actually, my only responsibility. If I don’t properly lay the groundwork – even for a good reason like this blog – the actual product suffers. People aren’t supported, the work isn’t fluid, communication is compromised, and the music-making shows the strain.

I spend all summer every summer exhausted and exhilarated, but it’s almost impossible to describe what I do. Depending on the day or the hour, I am a whack-a-mole expert, a traffic cop, a mediator, a cheerleader, a bean counter. I listen, cajole, pray, pontificate, stew, and listen some more. On the face of it, you might not think that Lorne Michaels’ life on SNL might not appear to intersect with mine. But in that, you would be wrong. He provides my current inspiration on being a producer, via Here’s the Thing.

The take-aways:

Producing is an invisible art: if you’re any good at it, you leave no fingerprints.

The only way you can manage creative people is with very loose reins.

Help people do their best work. Help when somebody’s in trouble. Otherwise, stay out of the way.

You have to be bad before you can be good.

And, my favorite: “If you look around the room, and you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.”

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