Let’s take a moment to expand on a crucial part of the theatre world – the ensemble. The ensemble should encompass members of a theatre company beyond the actors – technicians, directors, administrators, box office staff, etc. Successful, magical-transformative-transportive, truly successful theatre, rests in the hands of many – not just a singular performer. The task of the creative leadership team is to cultivate a strong ensemble from the moment creative meetings start, before the first rehearsal, to bolster the relationships that cross the stage.
Regardless of the piece, be it a golden-age musical or experimental performance art, a company’s ensemble must support the art through the run of the production. There is ample room for theatre companies to forge their own definition of a successful ensemble. You can do this however you see fit. Open the doors that are traditionally closed – invite the theatre’s administrative staff to rehearsals, include actors in the occasional design meeting, bring the box office crew into the dress rehearsals. Allow every member of the team a chance to touch the art in some way. Let your team know how their colleagues’ contributions impact their own work!
Redefining the “Emsemble”
Redefining the word “ensemble” to include the theatre’s whole team strengthens the show. “Theatre is always about together, whether it’s the audience and the performer or the group of people that are making the work or the wider community that the work is connected to” (Zeldin, Love, Exeunt Magazine). A healthy organization must have a functional business structure, but theatre does not conform to a corporatized layout; “Ensemble theatre is the antithesis of the corporate model that dominates the theatrical landscape in America today…” (Fischer, Howlround). It’s antithetical because a successful ensemble makes room for equal contribution from every member of the team.
A Unified Team
The different pieces of a theatre company cannot exist individually, especially in the world of non-profit theatres. A theatre needs a clear mission statement, often defined by an artistic director’s vision. An artistic director needs the support of a managing director to lead a team. A managing director needs the support of outside vendors like set rental companies or e-ticketing software vendors. a financial advisor to ensure a realistic budget for each new endeavor. An actor needs a safe, organized space to create a performance. A development manager needs active art to rally donors, and a non-profit theatre needs donors. The whole team must be united towards the common pursuit of engaging, cohesive art. The success of this unification leads to a blossomed ensemble.
Examples of TicketPeak clients embracing these concepts include Alban Arts, Alamo City Performing Arts, and Menomonie Theater Guild.
Regardless of who makes up your theatre’s ensemble, know that the pursuit of a compatible, healthy team is worthwhile. Invest in your team members and give them time to form a professional bond that lends itself to strengthening the company’s art and holistic mission statement – that is where a successful ensemble can thrive.
Citations (and further resources!)