by Will Hepp

There are times when I'm jolted out of the mind-set of getting the show on its feet and into the space. Those times come when people I haven't seen in awhile ask what I'm doing and I mention the play and my role in the production team. I'll prattle on about one thing or another and they'll listen patiently for a moment. Then I'll look at 'em and notice that they're a bit staid and quiet. More often than not, people just kinda stare. Like the dog at the Victrola. (Head cocked to the side as if they're listening to the sound of one hand clapping...)

Dog at Victrola:
Company Manager. Sure. Great.


Yeah, it's really wild, man. Lotsa stuff goin' on all the time. Fieldin' all sorts of weird things, people callin' me. Ya know. Lotsa stuff.


Dog at Victrola:
Yeah. Uhh... What does a company manager do?
At this point I realize exactly how inane my conversation has been. I'm forced to back up and explain details, experiences, tasks, etcetera. Okay, so what the heck do I do? Well, in some senses, I'm the de facto producer, director, and salesman.

De facto because the people who are the Producer, Director, and PR person rely on me to prepare and maintain the business of "show business." In other words, I provide the backbone upon which the players flex their muscles and make the real miracles happen (entendre intended.)

Long before all the players are assembled, I need to cover the bases of budgets, licensees, organization, contacts, obligations, negotiations of all kinds, etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum. This means that, with the producer's guidance, I assemble a budget which will affect how much, say, a lighting designer has to spend and thus affect what s/he can create. Perhaps this is one of the problems with modern theater, in that business people unknowingly exert their conceptions of production upon the artistic capabilities of a show. Keep in mind that these decisions can happen long before the "concept" of the show is even dealt with. If you ask me, the artists are perfectly justified in being suspicious of the number crunchers.

For Joan, the numbers came in line through guidance from the producer, the playwright, designers and an organizational philosophy advanced by Michael which is highly team-oriented. When it came time to close the first production and move on into the next, it was assumed that all the actors currently involved in the project could move ahead with the show. Never was there a meeting where we discussed cutting somebody or shuffling the players. We were a team, or -- in Hair terminology -- a tribe. And Michael is the chief of that tribe.

I suppose I could get more specific in terms of timelines and actions involved in my job, but I think you'd just yawn. Basically I crunch a lot of numbers, make a lot of calls, and deal with a wide range of different people. Think of me as the front line. You may see my name once or twice, but it won't come up too often. (How many "world famous" company managers do you know of?) If the show runs forever and makes a few millionaires, I won't be one of them. But ya know what? That's exactly what I signed up for. I left the corporates behind knowing what the gig would be like; and I wouldn't have it any other way. The fact that you're reading this letter is unique in terms of "public exposure" for a company manager. This is the fifteen minutes that Andy promised to me awhile back.

So, as I nurse my beer, listening to Miles play his horn, allow me to say thanks for your interest and enjoy the rest of the site. If you never hear me mentioned or see my picture again, don't feel bad.

If you never hear of me again it means that I'm doin' the job just right. And lovin' every minute of it.

Will may be contacted at will@orlok.com

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