Tiffany Moon, TMU contributor and MFA/MBA student at Cal State Long Beach
Greetings and welcome to my first TheaterMania blog post! Throughout the semester, I'll be chronicling my adventures as an MBA/MFA Theatre Management student at California State University Long Beach (from here on referred to as Cal State Long Beach) and exploring what exactly it means to be a theater manager.
My interest in the behind the scenes world of nonprofit theater has been a slow development from a life spent in front of the audience. Like many of you, I am regaled with stories of myself as a small child singing "Tomorrow" at the top of my lungs and organizing children around me into fully staged musical productions in my living room. As we grew older and got a video camera, my siblings and I would create fully plotted movies featuring sword fights and special effects (yep, we totally figured out that you can make someone "disappear" by turning off the camera, exiting the frame, and then turning it back on. POOF!) I acted in my first community theater production at nine, and soon theater became a family affair. I remember one production of Fiddler on the Roof that starred my entire family, including my father in the pivotal role of Mordcha the innkeeper. If you knew my father, you would know that it was genius.
I went to Chapman University to pursue my craft and graduated with a BFA in Theatre Performance in 2002. After graduation, I spent some time as a casting director at Central Casting before moving to New York City to attend Circle in the Square Theatre School's Two Year Musical Theatre Workshop. I graduated from Circle in 2007 and spent some time doing the waitress/bartender/actor thing.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that I do not have the temperament to be solely a professional actress. I never developed the thick skin that is so important to survive as a working actor. Each rejection always stung as much as the last, and although I did several projects by invitation, I found that I never did find that way to calm my nerves enough to deliver a winning audition. I have nothing but respect for the actor's life and would never discourage anyone from following that path, but as I grew older I found myself drawn to a different path.
I have always been interested in all aspects of theater. I have directed and stage managed and tossed around the idea of starting up a theater company with friends. I found my way back to the theater, after taking off another two years to work for Central Casting in New York City again, as an Assistant Director for Theater for the New City's Summer Street Theater Tour. Because an actor was fired, I also acted in the piece, an original musical that toured all five boroughs. After that, I assisted Crystal Field, founder and Executive Artistic Director of TFNC, with the Village Halloween Costume Ball, the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, and a second round of Street Theater. Working on these projects was definitely the highlight of my theatrical life thus far.
Moving back to California, I discovered the MBA/MFA Theatre Management program at Cal State Long Beach and joined this year. My expected graduation from the three year program is May 2014. At Cal State Long Beach, we manage California Repertory Company, a professional theater located on the Queen Mary. As graduate assistants, we take on roles in a structure modeled after LORT theaters and run every aspect of the theater. This year, my jobs are Director of Publicity and Literary Manager, which I will delve into more as this blog progresses.
I have devoted my life to the theater because I believe that theater is essential to humanity. Some may say that theater is a dying art, but by "holding the mirror to society" theater has a tremendous impact on its audience in a more intimate and immediate way than television or film does.
To quote Emily Mann, "People were talking about the death of the theater before I was born. It's still here. It's harder than ever to raise money for the arts, hard to get audiences. But, with all this technological isolation going on, with cell phones, computers, people need to rub shoulders, to socialize. They need the theater more than ever."
They really, really do -- and as the new generation of artists and managers, it's our turn to take up the challenge.