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A 21st Century Playwright

I Survived My First Year of Grad School!

Tiffany Moon looks back on her first year in the MFA/MBA Theatre Management program at Cal State Long Beach.

By Los Angeles

High fives all around, because believe it or not, it's June and I have successfully completed my first year in the MFA/MBA Theatre Management program at Cal State Long Beach.

Before I launch into my summer plans, which include managing a melodrama theater, dramaturging a new musical for Cal Rep, and coordinating ad sales for a Cal Rep playbill upgrade, I thought it would be fun to do a recap of 2011/12 at Cal Rep. Returning to school almost ten years after undergrad was kind of a shock to the system, after all, so I wanted to take this opportunity to both give you an idea of the life of a graduate student in theater and relish the fact that I made it through unscathed and accomplished so much more than I even imagined was possible.

How do you measure a year? (I'll refrain from doing so in cups of coffee, as they would far outnumber my word limitations for this piece.) Instead, I will give you eleven things that stand out about my first year experience. Enjoy!

11: Number of Hours in the Office Each Week. This number is really much higher, particularly during opening weeks and weeks directly surrounding our big events, but this is the official number of hours I was required to be in the Cal Rep management office each week.

10: Number of Shows in our Season. This also indicates ten directors interviewed, ten press releases written, ten press kits packaged, and ten study guides created.

9: Number of Ads Sold for our Big Bash Tribute Book. I never thought I would become skilled in advertising sales, but it looks like I will be continuing along this path this summer as well.

8: Number of Courses Completed. Evenly split between the theater department and the business school, they included Graphic Design, Entertainment Law, Dramaturgy, a Theatre Management seminar, and my basic requirements for Finance, Accounting, Marketing, and Management.

7: Number of Other Students in the Program. Doing all of the work involved in running a non-profit theater with essentially eight people brings a whole new meaning to the term "sink or swim." Thankfully, my cohorts were awesome and easy to work with, and we will have a couple of added people next year.

6: Number of Press Books Created. This turned into a much bigger project than I had initially anticipated, but I did get to showcase the awesome Photoshop and InDesign skills I learned first semester.

5: Multiplied by Six, Rough Number of Scripts Read for Season Selection. As Literary Manager, I sat on the season selection committee along with this year's Director of Education and Literary, Mira Greene. Mira did a fabulous job managing the selection process, which I will take over next year. Thirty is a lot of scripts to consider! But we are completely thrilled with the nine shows that were selected for next year.

4: Number of Job Titles I Simultaneously Held. At Cal Rep we wear a lot of hats, and I ended up with four over the course of the year - Director of Publicity, Literary Manager, Theatrefest Second, and Director of Corporate Giving (this title coincided with the aforementioned ad sales). That's a lot of diverse experience that I can carry into my positions post graduation.

3: Number of… Well, I can't think of a good one for 3. So maybe I'll go with minimum cups of coffee per day to get through this hectic schedule. I guess it was easier to work in the coffee than I thought!

2: Days of TheatreFest. As the TheatreFest Second, I was prepping all year to be able to take over as TheatreFest Coordinator next year. TheatreFest is a high school theater festival and competition that draws in upwards of 600 Los Angeles and Orange County area high school students every year. As Director of Education and Literary for Cal Rep next season, this will be my baby.

1: Big Bash Attended. In addition to TheatreFest, the Big Bash is a major focus of the spring semester. This year our second annual fundraising event was coordinated by our Director of Development, Shay Thornton and was a huge success. We honored a Broadway star Susan Watson, who is a Cal Rep alum, and David Emmes and Martin Benson, founders of South Coast Rep. There was dinner and entertainment, and with everyone from our management team pitching in, the event was a great success.

Next year promises to be even more challenging, as the second year of our program is often the most demanding. Stay tuned, my friends, as this is only the beginning!


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