I'm the Producer Now

Jennifer Butler

It’s that time of year again. The show/season has been announced. And it is time to get going. We need to find a director, a production team, and of course a cast.

Last year I took on the role as co-producer for my local community theater’s first two productions of the season. This was my chance to see and learn how things are done right from the start.  Someone thought I would be a good producer and asked me if I would be interested in the role. I am always willing to learn more and said “yes” because I also like to try new things.

As I started in my role as producer, I never really thought about what it took to get things started from the ground up on the community theater level. I read the production manual and was ready to jump in and help as much as I could.

I spent the first show, taking things in and learning the ropes, even stepping out of my comfort zone when it came to public speaking and running production meetings. In all reality, it probably was not as scary as it seemed in my head. I knew most everyone I was working with although most of the cast was new.

Auditions along with director interviews were two of the toughest challenges I personally faced in my role as producer. I think it is because these were completely brand new experiences for me in the world of theater and I didn’t know what to expect. I mostly sat there taking it all in, being the silent observer. Although I was allowed to ask the candidates questions and give my opinions I really wasn’t sure what to think or say. And when it came to the audition portion of things, I was able to state whether I thought somebody was good or not or who I liked better. However, I never really understood exactly what I was to look for.  I watched the others make notes but I never really knew what to write. I knew why I was to be there but even after two shows, I don’t think I fully understood what it was that I was supposed to do.

Well, playing the role of assistant producer for both of these shows I also had taken over the role of being the main publicity coordinator. Let’s just say learning two new production roles at the same time was a bit daunting at the time but in the end, I am glad I did it as I learned so much and gained a ton of experience and more confidence in what I was doing.

It was great to work alongside an experienced producer, one who has been doing it for a long time and knew what to do. It was nice to know that I had someone to go to if I had any questions and that there was someone to help make sure that I didn’t fail.

For the second show, I took on more responsibility as the producer. Although I was still nervous, I was more willing to run the production meetings and to help in whatever way that I could.

I always knew that it took a lot to put on a show, but being the producer and seeing that side of things brought my appreciation to a whole new level.

I realized that producing a show is not the role in Community Theater for me. Though I gave it 110 percent while I was in that role, just as I always do with every show, that I am involved with. It was shortly into the process of producing, when I realized that I am more suited for the creative side of things. And that’s where I plan on staying.  

Photo: Southgate Community Players