The Industry - Marlaina Darmody Interview
Author: Darryn King
Monday, 19 May 2008
Sure, you can have a great play - but how do you actually get people to come see it- Enter the producer. Marlaina Darmody from the Darlinghurst Theatre Company has worked as co-producer on 17 shows, and on a further 16 shows as assistant producer. But how do you get a job like hers- She spoke to Darryn King for Career FAQs.
What does a producer actually do, when it comes to theatre-
How I see it is, a producer is on the business side of creating theatre, as opposed to the director who handles the creative side. What we do is try to get audiences into the theatre. We do publicity and marketing, and also try to get money into the theatre company in other ways: funding, sponsorship, advertising- that sort of thing. On the other side of that, we're also responsible for where the money goes: the payroll and the financials of the company.
How did you get the job in the first place-
I actually studied accounting at uni. I did a lot of travelling and ended up working jobs in London and one of them was working in a theatre - in ushering. I thought, this is the industry I want to work in, because the people who work here want to be here, and all the patrons want to be there - as opposed to a lot of offices I've worked in where people are there begrudgingly.
Sounds like a whole different world to accounting.
Yeah, it's quite different! So yeah, I thought this is what I want to do - obviously I wanted a role that was more challenging. I came to Sydney and did an open program course through NIDA, which was Arts Management. While I was doing that I started volunteering at Darlinghurst Theatre Company. I volunteered for a year while I was doing that course, and then a job came up in admin. I got the job and was promoted to assistant producer, and then promoted to producer.
Is volunteering a common way of getting into this sort of work-
Yeah, we call them Theatre Buddies, and we try to get one in every night to help with Front-Of-House. You come along and assist the Front-Of-House Manager with whatever needs doing: collecting tickets, collecting glasses, it's not hard. And then you get to watch the show for free!
What sort of skills do you need to get into this line of work-
I would say that you need to be the right type of person, because you're dealing with people who may not have organisational skills. We're almost like wedding planners, because we're dealing with people who have their own self-inflicted pressure. They're putting on a production and it's so important that everything has to be perfect, so you're working with people whose stress levels are heightened. So you've got to make sure you encourage the creative people the right way. I think that's the most important thing.
What would your advice be to anyone who wanted to get into this industry, particularly the production side of things-
I'm a big believer in not asking someone to do something you wouldn't do yourself. If you're picking up garbage, washing dishes, or whatever it is, who cares- As long as you're there in the place you want to be. If you want to get to management level, you've got to understand what people are doing below you, and that makes you a better manager.
For more career advice and interviews like this, check out Career FAQs' Entertainment, or careerfaqs.com.au . For more information on the Darlinghurst Theatre Company visit darlinghursttheatre.com.