The Problem-Solving Production Managers Working Behind the Scenes at the BAM Fisher


Everybooty, 2018. Photo: Santiago Felipe

By David Hsieh

The black box Fishman Space inside the BAM Fisher was built to be flexible, in addition to since the idea opened in 2012, artists have come up with unexpected ways to test which flexibility. There have been shows inside the round, on three sides, with the audience sitting on stage, with rocking chairs as seats, in addition to with no seats at all. inside the most recent Next Wave, for instance, there were productions which made audiences see the theater in completely brand-new ways: Michelle Dorrance’s Elemental went above audience’s heads to dance on the lighting grids; Andrew Schneider’s NERVOUS/SYSTEM turned the theater into a magic lantern with each blackout revealing a brand-new tableau; Jesper Just’s Interpassivities made audience walk on “terra infirma” the whole time. in addition to This specific Pride Weekend, the idea will become a nightclub with Everybooty.

So how do we bring these artists’ ceaseless creative ideas to the stage? The secret lies with our ingenious production managers/supervisors, Collins Costa in addition to Courtney Wrenn. Here, they reveal their magic.

Collins, can you take us through the unique challenges of these shows?

Collins Costa: Interpassivities had only done previous shows at warehouses in addition to museums because Jesper was mainly a visual artist. So the idea required more hand-holding than usual. They already had the flooring in addition to video. nevertheless they had to construct walls in our space. Because they didn’t have a lot of theater experience, we helped them work out the mechanics.

Collins Costa

Michelle Dorrance’s show, Elemental, was in development the whole summer, including a two-week residency inside the Fisher. which was very helpful to both of us. by the get-go, she wanted to do an in-the-round show. She wanted to ziplining in instruments, dancing on the grid, playing with water. A lot of those “elements” did in fact come to fruition. They were told about our capabilities, including the hours they could have with the crew, in addition to they made the best use of the idea.

Aaron Marcellus inside the Dorrance Dance production Elemental during the BAM Next Wave Festival, 2018. Photo: Ian Douglas

When we first booked NERVOUS/SYSTEM, the idea was in-the-round. nevertheless a few months in, they said they had to change to a proscenium show in addition to the stage would certainly cut into seating. nevertheless those seats were already sold. Eventually we came up with the traverse seating with added seats on the some other side of the stage. They also needed to fly in props during the blackouts, which the Fisher was not built for. After some research we worked out a system for them.

Jamie Roach, Kedian Keohan in addition to Peter Musante inside the Andrew Schneider production NERVOUS/SYSTEM during the BAM Next Wave Festival, 2018. Photo: Rebecca Smeyne




How does a production manager at BAM work out what is usually needed to put on a show?

CC: In theory, the company will first send us a “tech rider,” which is usually a document of what they believe their production need is usually. I’ll create a budget based on which document. So the role of a production manager is usually to look at a document, make an estimate of how many crew in addition to how much time the idea will take to make the idea happen, in addition to if/how much you need to spend on materials in addition to equipment rentals. Sometimes we can’t make the idea happen within our budget, then we go back to the company with suggestions.

What is usually the essence of a production manager’s job? 

CC: You take the artistic ideas by a company, then you work out the boring side: how to get the idea into the space, how long will the idea take to get into the space, what do I need to provide equipment-wise, personnel-wise, so the idea can happen the way the artists imagine the idea. in addition to you take the idea all the way until the show is usually finished.

Abigail Simon in addition to Jin Zhang inside the Jesper Just Production Interpassivities during the BAM Next Wave Festival, 2018. Photo: Jin Zhang

What is usually the unique challenge of the Fisher? 

CC: Because the idea’s so modest, maximizing audience size is usually always paramount. nevertheless the point of a versatile space is usually to play with the idea. The Fisher shows, compared to those in our two some other houses, have a higher percentage of brand-new productions—those which haven’t been in many some other theaters. They may have workshopped elsewhere. nevertheless we can provide larger resources to realize their vision. Our default attitude is usually to say yes, then we work out the solutions.

Everybooty is usually a show/party which BAM curates in addition to produce in-house, which is usually unusual for us as a presenter. Courtney, how do you work out the challenges?

Courtney Wrenn: I am very invested in Everybooty, so when I knew we were producing the idea I wanted to be on the curatorial team. So I’ve been planning since the beginning, thinking about what actors to bring in in addition to how to move them. Those conversations have been ongoing since January.

I’ve been working hard with artists individually. This specific show is usually based on a nightlife performance. These performers don’t usually hold the resources which the Fisher can provide, so I worked with them on problem solving. I took a more active role in their creative process.

Everybooty, 2018. Photo: Santiago Felipe

Where did you get the expertise?

CW: I toured nationally with the Broadway shows Ghost in addition to Sister Act as a prop person. I also worked at the Delacorte Theater inside the Central Park. Each space has its own challenges in addition to I have seen a lot of them.

I think the idea’s important to admit what you don’t know. The internet is usually always great. Our production team has 13 people in addition to everybody includes a different strength. For instance, I was a prop person. Ryan [Gastelum] was a sound designer. Paul [Bartlett] in addition to Brian [Sciarra] were lighting designers. Dylan [Nachand] in addition to Palmer [Johnston] came by rock shows. There’s a real depth, in addition to we are collaborative. I don’t think we have encountered a situation in which you pose a question to 13 of us in addition to we’re completely stumped.

What are the qualities which make one a Great production manager? 

CW: We have different styles. We deal with problems differently. nevertheless qualities inherent in all of us are flexibility, resourcefulness, in addition to productive attitudes. Something is usually always going to go wrong before curtain… so rolling with the punches is usually a Great attitude to have.

Everybooty is usually at the BAM Fisher on June 29.

David Hsieh is usually a publicity manager at BAM.

© 2019 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Problem-Solving Production Managers Working Behind the Scenes at the BAM Fisher

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