Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Producer's Eye View of a Show

Ah, the theatrical producer as God. I've always loved this picture of famed British producer "Binky" Beaumont, placing the last touches on some undoubtedly well-made play of the West End's golden age.

As much as it may gall us creative types, professional theatre is only partly the result of talented artists and technicians. There's ultimately a Suit (or several Suits) looming above the stage, and when we call them "Angels" it's with a mixture of love and fear. Those puppet strings Beaumont is holding are made of money. Without them, we may still have a show, but we won't have ushers, stagehands, posters, a theatre bar, or probably even a theatre for that matter.

Having met a fair number of theatrical producers, I'm usually struck by how pleasant most of them are--more than they need to be, considering how much power they actually wield. Almost anyone who works in theatre--artists, tech staff, administrators--could be making more money doing the same job someplace else, and that certainly includes those who raise the money and make the deals.
We're fortunate that so many of the God-like figures sustaining theatre are benevolent. Because whether they are or they aren't, they're the ones who are holding the strings--and when they cut us loose, though it's still possible to stand and support ourselves on our own, there's no denying that it's a lot harder.

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