Contributed by Guest blogger of the week: Cyndy Marion1. What was the first show you produced? What was the most important lesson you learned?
And now we will hear from Matthew J. Nichols--Actor, Director and Co-Artistic Director of Zootopia Theatre Company (see complete bio below). Thank you for participating Matthew!
The first show I produced with Zootopia Theatre Company was PROFESSIONAL SKEPTICISM, a dark office comedy by James Rasheed. The most important lesson learned was to plan for everything and expect anything. Be organized but flexible. The more prepared we were at the start, the better able we were to roll with the punches. Also, surround yourself with good people and listen to their ideas.
2. How do you define your role as producer? What do you enjoy most?
Usually when I produce I am also fulfilling another artistic role such as acting or directing, but the most important thing to me is the success of the production as a whole. For Zootopia, since our focus is new works, I measure success by asking, are we serving this play with the best premiere possible within our means? My role as a producer is to ensure this success by gathering all the elements needed (the right creative team, casting, funding, performance and rehearsal space, etc.) to pave the way to success.
3. What are some of the benefits to producing your own work?
The biggest benefit, for me, is creative control and the pride of ownership. When I produce my own work, I get to decide where my passions lie, what projects I wish to work on, how I wish to work, and who I want to work with. There is nothing more fulfilling for me than looking back and thinking, I made that happen, with the help of others of course, but it never would have gotten off the ground unless I invested myself in it fully.
4. What are the unique challenges to wearing more than one hat? How do you deal with them?
The challenge to wearing multiple hats is to know when to wear them one at a time. For me, the producer exists outside of the rehearsal room, smoothing out any bumps in the road so that the artists can work without having to think about external forces. If I'm doing my job right, I don't confuse the two because I don't get in my own way.
5. Any words of wisdom for artists who want to produce their own work?
Don't rush into a project before you're ready. Good work takes time. Carefully plan what kind of production you envision, and think about how you wish the audience to experience it on every level, from the moment they first hear about it and decide to attend until the moment they leave the theatre.
Matthew J. Nichols is an actor and director in New York. As Co-Artistic Director of Zootopia Theatre Company, he has produced PROFESSIONAL SKEPTICISM by James Rasheed, STILL THE RIVER RUNS by Barton Bishop, and EMINENE by Barton Bishop for FringeNYC. Zootopia's productions have been nominated for seven NYIT awards, including an Outstanding Direction nomination for Matthew's work on STILL THE RIVER RUNS. Select acting credits include PROFESSIONAL SKEPTICISM,THREEPENNY OPERA (New Rep), A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Colorado Shakes), and the independent film THE WEEKEND. www.zootopiatheatre.