Inspired by our adoption of Stage One as the charity for the 2012 Whatsonstage.com Awards, we’re declaring this the “Year of the Producer” on Whatsonstage.com, and are running a 12-month editorial series of interviews, blogs and other features to give theatregoers a greater understanding of the crucial role of the producer and an insight into the people who put on the shows they love.

In this blog post, Lucy Oliver-Harrison, a current Stage One Apprentice with Ambassador Theatre Group, discusses the daily challenges of being a producer.


Theatre... it’s all the same...

And, no, I don’t mean the content! Over the last two years I have worked as a freelancer for a number of theatre companies, worked in a subsidised theatre and now I have been lucky enough to begin working at a commercial company as a Stage One Apprentice.

During this time, I have come to learn that wherever you’re working or whatever scale you’re working at, as a producer, you will always face the same problems, whether that’s raising the money, casting the right actor, contract negotiation, sticking to a budget or projects falling through last minute.

Ok, so problems happen on very different scales depending on what project you’re working on/how experienced you are/how much money is at risk of being lost but it all boils down to the same thing – problems always exist on a project so, if you’re going to be a producer, you’d just better get used to dealing with them!

Making the crazy decision at the beginning of 2010 to leave my comfortable job in a literary agency to “produce some plays”, I thought the problems that I initially faced would all become much simpler the next time around; how wrong I was. You think you know it all after the first few shows and that you’re prepared for anything – until something completely unexpected comes up and you have to think on your feet to make sure the production continues to run smoothly.

But where would we be without these problems? Or challenges as I like to politely refer to them. These challenges are what make the end product so satisfying - knowing that you've overcome all the obstacles and finally got to the curtain call on opening night. It's the crazy prospect of knowing that it will all have turned out well in the end that gives me, and I think others, that satisfying buzz as you nervously watch the opening night performance.

So I am learning to embrace the problems! I know they're never going to end so bring them on I say and watch us as we get over the last one and sprint towards the next!