Rachel Reiner, Senior Manager of Membership Services and Education Programs at The Broadway League
I had the chance to speak with Rachel Reiner, the Senior Manager of Membership Services and Education Programs at The Broadway League. Rachel coordinates the Education and Community Engagement Committee and assists with forums and conferences. Rachel is also the Managing Director of Resonance Ensemble (www.ResonanceEnsemble.org), a theater company dedicated to producing classic plays and new work inspired by the timelessness and universalism of the classics. Through her production company Rachel Reiner Productions LLC Rachel recently produced off-Broadway productions of several new plays by Victor L. Cahn at Theatre Row and Crazy for the Dog by Christopher Boal at the Bouwerie Lane Theatre. In New York City, Rachel also produced Zimmerman by Frank Barth at the Sanford Meisner Theater and was the Producer/General Manager for the Oberon Theatre Ensemble's productions of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, and Measure for Measure. Rachel graduated from Brandeis University and is the Chair of the New York City Alumni Performing Arts Network. She recently completed a two year term as co-President of the League of Professional Theatre Women (www.theatrewomen.org).
1. What advice would you give to graduating students? The advice I would give to graduating students is to use their alumni network as well as they possibly can. Find out what alumni are working in the field that they want to be working in and try to have informational interviews with them, see if they can shadow them, take every opportunity to network with them and find out who they know that they might be able to introduce the graduating students to. That's definitely the first and easiest connection to make, especially if you're changing cities or starting in a career where you don't know a lot of people. The second piece of advice I would give is to make sure that you intern or apprentice or in some way learn on the job. The Broadway League (www.BroadwayLeague.com) has a great internship program and places interns in other industry offices as well. I would also like to mention the League of Professional Theatre Women. It's a fantastic resource, networking platform, and place to meet people.
2. If you could go back in time and speak to your college self, what would you say? Travel more. Explore the world and take classes on subjects other than theater. I ate, slept, and breathed theater for the whole time I was at school. I had the time of my life, and I wouldn't have changed anything, except I think I probably should have traveled to other countries or seen if there were other classes on other topics of interest, I'd say to be a little bit more well rounded.
3. What was your biggest mistake in your career? I don't really think I've made any mistakes in my career. I've really enjoyed every position I've had, and I've learned a lot on the job. I think one thing that might have enhanced my experiences or given me more information sooner would be to have read more. Now I read the newspapers every day, I read every theater blog I can, I try to stay current, but I don't know as much about theater history as I probably should. I think I should read more and know about history so that I can better help advance what's coming in the future. But I don't think that that is a mistake, I just think if I had more time, I would do it.
4. What are three habits that contributed to your success? First, anticipating the needs of the people around me in advance. So, making myself indispensable to my bosses or my colleagues and utilizing whatever skills I have that can help smooth their paths. The second one is I'm very organized. I make lists, I usually know where everything is, and I just like to have order and know what's happening next. I would say the third habit would be I'm really good at networking and connecting people, not only for business reasons but also personally. I like to match friends with similar abilities or likes and connect people who have something that somebody else might find of value. I do that for the League as well. I think that knowing as many people as possible - actually knowing them, not just being an acquaintance - and recognizing the value of people and matching them is something that I like to do and is something that is very important.
5. How did you get your first job? I got that first job at what is now The Broadway League because of internships that I had had before. In between my junior and senior year of college, I wanted to be in New York, so I got housing in the NYU dorms and I had two internships. One was working for the company Pace, which is now called Broadway Across America. They were about to produce the Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde and I worked for Gary Gunas, the Executive Vice President. So that internship was two days a week, and the other three days a week I was at Richard Frankel Productions where I was assisting the Company Manager and the Assistant Company Manager of Smokey Joe's Café. That was great because Pace was much more corporate and Richard Frankel Productions was sort of in the trenches doing the producing. It was really a great overview of the entire industry. At the end of my internship with Gary Gunas, he sat me down and asked what I wanted to do next, and I said I was graduating soon and that I'd like to come back and work in New York. There's a page in the Theatrical Index that has a list of all of the producers on Broadway, and he went through and he circled all of the ones that he thought I should contact and he offered to connect me with them and give me a good reference, so that was really fantastic. I interviewed for a position available at The Broadway League as Jed Bernstein's assistant and, because I had just finished my internship in August and I was pretty much done with all my credits at school, I graduated a semester early and left in December to start working at The Broadway League.
6. What are you working on now? My day job is at The Broadway League, so that continues as always. I'm the managing director of a nonprofit theater company called Resonance Ensemble, and we are planning our upcoming season. And we're doing a significant number of readings in the next month and workshops to develop new work for our mainstage productions. We do new work inspired by classics, and we run them in repertory together with the classic, so, for instance, we just did a new adaptation of Henry IV called H4 and we ran it in repertory with a new play that we commissioned that was inspired by Shakespeare writing Henry IV, and it was called Shakespeare's Slave by Steven Fechter. And in about a month, I'm having a baby! So those are my three activities for the month.