I first heard about Performance Network Theatre when I worked with one of our associate artists, Joseph Zettelmaier. I was in a staged reading of the musical he was working on and we premiered it at Eastern Michigan University. A couple of months later the cast was offered the opportunity to perform the play again at Performance Network's Fireside New Play Festival. The Fireside Festival is a series of staged readings (which basically means you read the script right on stage) and the audience provides feedback after the performance and is then submitted to the playwright who chooses to use the comments or not in his or her revisions of the new scripts. So I was very lucky in the sense that I was introduced to this theatre my freshman year of college because I was granted the opportunity to perform! Ever since then I've been a fan of Performance Network Theatre.
Before the position for the Marketing Director opened up I became acquainted Artistic Director, David Wolber, when I did ANOTHER staged reading for Joe Zettelmaier at EMU. We read Dead Man's Shoes which Performance Network did in co-production with the Williamston Theatre last season. After the last performance I mentioned to David that I'd be graduating soon and to keep me in mind if anything opened up! We also lobbied Congress together at Arts Advocacy Day in Washington DC!
I would also like to point out that I am not yet a graduate. I still have 15 credits left to wrap up! I have been taking Accounting all summer (ick!!!) and I have a few more classes to wrap up and then I'll have my degree. For the Fall and Winter semesters, I was working as the Social Media Specialist at EMU Theatre and was doing a lot of research on the effects of social media in the theatre industry. My boss, Pam Cardell, informed me that the position of the Marketing Director at Performance Network had opened up and she suggested that I apply. I thought it was a long-shot but I read the job description and qualified! I submitted my resume and cover letter, participated in three interviews, and was offered the position within a week! I then had to leave my three other jobs I was working to support myself so I could start right away!
I was very overwhelmed when they offered me the position. I still can't wrap my mind around it. How is it that I'm not even graduated and I have my dream job? in the ARTS? I've gotten a lot of concerned glares when the word "Arts" is mentioned in reference to my degree. Artists and young people spawn the idea of "no work opportunities" and I'm living proof that you need to work hard and look hard. It doesn't just happen. Be specific and get what you want!
Getting your dream job is not the end result of success story. After that, it's time to get to work. I am so lucky to be a part of this staff because they're a group of extremely dedicated and passionate people. Everyone is here because they love and believe in theatre. We are challenged everyday with a new task or obstacle but we constantly remind each other that we are a team and we make magic happen.
I immediately had to put together the promotions for our show (which has opened! woo hoo!) Burn This. Now I get to focus on the upcoming season:
-The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (Sept 27 - Oct 28)
-A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler (Nov 15 - Dec 30)
-Brill by David Wells and Music by Frank Allison (Jan 10 - Feb 10)
-Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire (Feb 21 - March 31)
-The Mountaintop by Katori Hill (April 25 - June 2)
-Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo
-My Name is Asher Lev by Aaron Posner based on the novel by Chaim Potok (Aug 8 - Sept 8)
I plan on incorporating a lot of social media, community outreach, and audience development in this season. We're hosting themed Happy Hours before every performance ($2 beer / $3 wine) and getting in touch with charitable organizations that could benefit from the specific publicity of each performance.
Performance Network Theatre also has a few Well-Kept-Secrets such as The Fireside New Play Festival, The Children's Theatre Network, and The Mosh Pit Series (a black-box cutting-edge theatre experience) which I plan to bring to the attention of the community.
Also, check out my personal blog at marissakurtzhals.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @immastereo.