As the Managing Director of Luna Stage, everyday I experience the ebb and flow of running a theatre company. This past year, the changing tides have been particularly challenging – but very exciting – as Luna moves towards becoming the anchor for the Valley Arts District of Orange/West Orange.
I am going to be sharing with you in this space – my thoughts, feelings, impressions, musings, whatever – about this big, wonderful journey that Luna Stage is taking. In many ways, this is a personal exercise – to help me focus more fully on the practical and the real challenges ahead – but I think it will also give you insights into how theatre works as a business as well as an art. As Geoffrey Rush’s character in Shakespeare in Love says: “It’s a mystery, really!” (I must give credit here to Richard Bryant, our Transition Consultant, for constantly reminding me of that saying… more on Richard later).
I am so privileged to be the Managing Director of a company that I feel so passionate about, where there is exciting and meaningful theatre work and where I am constantly challenged to do things I have never done before! Running a theatre company is definitely not something I ever planned, but isn’t that how things usually work? Someone once shared an old saying with me – very apropos: “People make plans, and God laughs”. Then there’s the other one – “Life is what happens while you’re making plans”. That is not to say – we don’t plan! In fact, if anything, I have really learned the value of planning – of knowing exactly where you want to end up. It’s the how you will get there that is so unpredictable and therefore scary – but also very exciting! I consider myself a flexible person – and I am finding that that flexibility is absolutely necessary, as changing circumstances (changing tides) require constant adjustments. Luna has done a lot of very solid planning over the past few months – for the move, for our financial future, for our programming – and, very smartly, our plans are never just one-and-only plans. There are always A, B and C plans – and then, of course, the awareness that a totally unanticipated turn of events could change everything. I have to say – Luna is becoming very good at riding the waves of change!
The company has had some great fortune over the past few months – starting with the terrific brand development team at The Sauce Kitchen who, upon learning about the company, volunteered to help us to refresh our brand and presence. Kamau Akabueze and Vicki Bolton pored over everything we had about Luna – photos, programs, press clippings, reviews, etc. etc. etc. and they actually reached the essence of who we are as a theatre company! Jane and I, upon seeing their strategy, ideas and brand designs, were really moved by how well they reflected Luna’s identity. You are now living in their work – this website and our new look – and you will be seeing more in all of our mailings, marketing and soon in our production publicity.
Then there is Richard Bryant. What a lucky day for Luna that Richard Bryant called me last spring, with some thoughts on a new marketing business he was setting up! I decided to meet with him but didn’t think we would really end up working together – since Luna’s focus was not on marketing, per se, but on figuring out how to make the big move from Montclair to the Valley Arts District. I call it lucky because it turns out that a lot of Richard’s experience is with transitioning theatres!
Richard has been ‘on board’ since the fall and he has taught me so much about the business of theatre, about maneuvering our way through the seas of change, about marketing and about professionalism. He and his team are working very closely with Kamau to position Luna Stage for the future.
Of course, as we prepare for our new home at 555 Valley Road, I must share with you how very happy I am that we are working with HANDS, Inc. This non-profit redevelopment organization is the driving force behind the Valley Arts initiative. Executive Director, Patrick Morrissy – from day one – has been a champion for Luna Stage. He understands the financial challenges the company faces – particularly given the economy – and he remains a solid partner and supporter in every way possible.
Having such outstanding professionals involved with the company is invaluable, and there are so many others who recognize the value of Luna and its mission and are helping to move the company forward. We are grateful to them all – to all the artists, activists, friends and supporters who, in big ways and small, are helping Luna Stage to become a vital part of its new community. The process is ongoing but it IS happening – we are all making it happen!
I tend to be a little on the corny side – and in fact you can expect a corny poem or two in this space, but I promise not to beat the “changing tides” image to death. For this first blog, though, I thought it appropriate to end with a quote that sums up my view of this journey:
A person (read: Luna Stage) has three choices in life. You can swim against the tide and get exhausted, or you can tread water and let the tide sweep you away, or you can swim with the tide, and let it take you where it wants you to go.
(Author : Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider Northern Exposure Northern Lights 1993 Famous Quotes).
Valley Arts District – Here we come!
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