Part 2 – Connecting it to the work


“In the collaborative world of theatre and special events, the production manager must lead by influence. How do we do that? Iron hand in a velvet glove.” – Tom Kelly

In our effort to “connect it to the work” we have found and been graciously provided with the following resources we’d like to share with you.  We hope they are useful for your projects.

Downloadable Special Events checklists (provided by Jay Sheehan)

Downloadable Rock and Roll checklists (provided by Jay Sheehan)

Viewable Co-Productions handbook (provided by Opera America)

Stories about Production Managers on the job

Recorded interviews

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” - Kenneth Blanchard

One of the most rewarding parts of the book writing process was speaking with other production managers.  You do not often get to talk about what you do with someone who understands and has been through it as well.  We share a few of our favorite interviews in hopes that they will inspire you as they did us.

              Case study bios

              "The very exercise of leadership fosters the capacity for it.” - Cyril Falls

              We are in debt to the following people for their case study contributions to the book.  We wish to share a little about their background and accomplishments with you.

              Jamila R. Cobham is a Barbadian born and raised production, stage and event manager. Jamila worked on numerous productions, concerts and festivals around Barbados and the Caribbean before moving to the USA in 2011 to pursue her studies in theater. In 2014 she received her MFA in Production, Technology and Management from Carnegie Mellon University and has worked as a Production Assistant at Weston Playhouse Theatre Company and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She is also a freelance stage manager in the Bay Area. Jamila is currently the Associate Production Manager at California Shakespeare Theater.

              Ken Freeman's career in the technical production world began in 1986 at San Diego State University while he was studying Chemistry. His passion, working with audio, lighting, and video equipment, became his career. He quickly ascended through the student technician role to become the Stage Manager and Technical Director for SDSU's Associated Students. Campus facilities included the 400-seat Backdoor Club, 1,100-seat Montezuma Hall, and 4,500-seat Open Air Theater. In 1988, Ken joined the ranks of the professional world working as an electrician for

              artists such as Michael Jackson, U2, The Who, and Madonna. The San Diego America's Cup races gave Ken his first taste of technology in tough field conditions as the production equipment provider for the America's Cup.

              Ken toured as the sales and marketing specialist with Yamaha Pro Audio during the rollout of the

              PM-4000 audio mixer, a staple in the audio business to this day. This opened many doors in the pro audio world, including working on the audio crew for the Republican National Convention, the Presidential Debates, and projects with the White House Communications Agency. Ken has also worked on corporate events such as Microsoft's Windows rollouts, Intel's release of the Pentium, Seagate's Cheetah launch, Nissan's Infiniti brand introduction, and the very first presentations of Toshiba's DVD.

              In 1993, Ken went to work full-time with MSI as the Audio Department Manager and began development of a series of tools and resources for special projects such as the 1996 Olympics, the X Games, and the 1996 Republican National Convention. In 1997, Ken took a sabbatical to work with ESPN as the Technical Director for ESPN’s X Games. In late 1999, Ken returned to MSI, seizing the opportunity to develop another generation of technical production systems. Ken focused on MSI's internal projects by taking on the lead technical role in the production of several major events for clients such as AARP, Lawson Software, Narcotics Anonymous, PLUS, ESRI and Taylor Made. Ken is now leading the way in working with many A/V equipment manufacturers in both product development, Beta testing and deployment in the field. Recently, Ken has worked with the NAB, Harman Professional, NAMM and assembled the theater touring package for the Broadway hit, Love, Janis as part of new product rollout. Ken’s installations include the storied Levitt Pavilion in Memphis Tennessee, a touring dome simulation environment with Siemens and a turnkey press system for the new presidential palace in the Republic of Southern Sudan. Ken also looks after the design of the theater technology systems for Comic-Con and is spending way too much time with 3D glasses.

              Ken also completed his 10th year with X Games and was publicly recognized by the Organizing Committee as one of the innovators that makes the event possible. Ken's innovative thinking and can-do attitude, combined with industry-wide contacts and a rich history in the business, have made him a fixture on some of the largest events under some of the most challenging circumstances.

              Ken is married, has two children, resides in Oceanside, CA, is an avid biker and amuses himself with extended trips to Yosemite, Anza Borrego, Zion, and other natural outdoor wonders.

              Neil Kutner has been working in theatrical production for over 30 years.  He has been the Director of Production of Brooklyn Academy of Music since 2008.  At BAM Neil oversees an international season of innovative dance, music, opera and theater on BAM’s three main stage venues.  Neil was part of the design team for BAM’s newest theater, the Fisher Building, and the Harvey Theater renovation; both completed in the fall of 2012. Prior to BAM, Neil was Production Manager at Sydney Theater Company in Australia, where he created shows for STC’s four venues including the Sydney Opera House. He also toured productions to the outback and to Melbourne.  Before moving to Australia, Neil lived in Philadelphia where he worked with virtually every theater in the area, and served as Production Manager for The Wilma Theater for 11 years.  While there, he was on the team that designed and built The Wilma Theater’s current building on the Avenue of the Arts. He also served as General Manager for Declan Weir Productions and Universal Services Associates. Neil was an adjunct professor for the University of the Arts for seven years, production managed the Barrymore Awards for nine of its first 10 years, produced special events for the mayor, and initiated the regional production manager’s forum.

              Glenn Plott was recruited by the Cincinnati Opera as Director of Production in 1998 specifically for the task of retooling the Production Departments to support new artistic initiatives and a more aggressive rotating repertory performance schedule.

              He is responsible for the management of all of the company’s production-related activities, and is a member of the company’s management team where he participates in long-range and strategic planning, research and analysis. 

              Glenn manages the day-to-day events of all production, technical and design personnel.  He negotiates and maintains collective bargaining agreements with stage and costume technicians, manages regulatory issues for the company, and directs the company’s efforts related to facilities and the Music Hall revitalization effort.

              During 38-years on stage, Glenn has worked on more than 250 opera productions with companies around the world.  He has served as a stage technician, technical director, lighting designer and for the last 23 years as production director.

              Glenn also volunteers time to the Cincinnati Performing Arts Technical Scholarship Fund and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.  He developed the Professional Trainee program at the School for Creative & Performing Arts, giving talented high school students practical experience in professional opera.

              He lives with his wife, Cassandra, a retired stage manager turned professional quilter and fiber artist.

              Karen Quisenberry joined Minnesota Opera as Production Director in August 2013. Prior to coming to Minnesota she served as the Production Director and Director of New Work at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the Director of Level21 (the BFA and MFA division of Design, Technology, and Management) at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. While at Krannert Center she oversaw the creation of new works by Mikel Rouse, Bebe Miller, Ralph Lemon, The Builders Association, and Karole Armitage, among others, while developing educational interactions for students in the fields of theatre, opera, dance, and performance art. Before making the move to Illinois, Karen taught stage management at the Yale School of Drama and was the Production Stage Manager at the Yale Repertory Theatre, having moved there from her initial artistic home of Seattle, Washington.

              Jennifer Ringle has been working as a production manager for the San Diego Symphony and Copley Symphony Hall (now known as the Jacobs’ Music Center) for 15 years. While being able to take the orchestra to New York, China, Mexico, and points not so far away, she has had the chance to work with  featured symphony soloists including Ben Folds, Burt Bacharach, Itzhak Perlman, Marvin Hamlisch, John Williams, Pinchas Zuckerman, Ozomatli, Wilson Phillips, En Vogue, Lou Rawls, Disney Entertainment and has assisted touring production in Copley Symphony Hall that include Prince, Natalie Merchant, Ani DiFranco, Margaret Cho, Martha Graham, and many more.

              After spending many years away from California working with the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Madison Repertory Theatre, Nebraska Theatre Caravan, Theatrefest NJ, Undermain Dallas, Western Oregon University and UW Manitowoc, she returned to San Diego to find the house job that would challenge and intrigue her and stayed because of the artistic collaboration. Keeping her free-lance options open, she hopes to further her opportunities to work with dedicated artists and production companies in Southern California.

              John Sanders started working sports and live music events while attending San Diego State University in the late-1980’s.  After receiving a degree in electrical engineering in 1990, John continued his career in sports and entertainment at San Diego Sports Arena, while also working part-time with concert promoters Bill Silva Presents, Avalon Attractions, SFX, and Clear Channel Entertainment.  During this time, John also toured with San Diego punk band Blink-182 in various positions, most notably tour manager and production manager during their rise to international status.  In 2007, John was recruited by Live Nation Worldwide to manage production for their San Diego area as well as managing production at shows throughout all of Southern California.  Live Nation’s Global Touring division recruited John for position as tour director in 2010, where John continues to oversee various tours on a national or worldwide basis.  He has done shows in over 60 countries and all continents except Antarctica.   John resides in Southern California where he enjoys fitness and outdoors and is also an aviation enthusiast, achieving a flight instructor certificate in single engine airplanes.

              Perry Silvey has been working for New York City Ballet since 1977, as Stage Manager, Production Stage Manager, and Technical Director.  Originally an Army Brat, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Acting, but gravitated toward technical theater while a student.  Before joining NYCB he was PSM for the Martha Graham Dance Company. In addition to his responsibilities at NYCB, he has assisted other ballet companies around the world with the mounting of Balanchine and Robbins ballets. In 2013 he was a recipient of the Stage Managers’ Association Del Hughes Award for a Distinguished Career in Stage Management.  He is married to Renee Estopinal, a former NYCB dancer.

              Rebecca Wolf has been a Lighting Designer and Production Manager for many theatrical and dance productions over the years in NYC, Washington DC, Buffalo NY and Baltimore MD in venues such as The Kennedy Center, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Shakespeare Theatre, Studio Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Studio Arena Theatre, DC Fringe Festival, CNN Studios in DC and Baltimore Theatre Project among others. Rebecca holds a BA in Technical Theatre from SUNY Buffalo and an MFA in Lighting Design from The University of Maryland. She has also toured with 2 musicals. She has worked as Unit Production Manager on the full length documentary Shu-De, that took her to the otherworldly location of Tuva, Russia for some amazing adventures. She currently works at Towson University for the Department of Dance as the Production Manager and resident Lighting Designer as well as adjunct faculty. She looks forward to what the world of art has in mind as the future unfolds itself.

              Concluding with Balance

              “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Mohandas Gandhi

              Go with the flow! Use the following links in order to reduce stress, see the big picture and get things accomplished.

              Suggested reading

              • The Four Agreements by Miguel Ángel Ruiz
              • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle