Eric and Andy's Sexy Interview with Elizabeth. AW MAN!
When your theatre company gets serious about growing and being the best, you look for the best Managing Director you can find. One woman has proved herself TWICE (Victory Gardens and TimeLine) to be the best and her name is Elizabeth Auman. We invited her to our new home and pill factory in the basement of an old burned down elementary school on the South Side.
Hi Liz and thank you so much for joining us in the basement of this elementary school in the heart of the ghetto!
Did you find the place ok?
Good morning. I did find it ok with the help of the janitor.
Great! Would you like a medicine ball to sit on or maybe some text books?
I would love some text books.
Here you go. So Liz, we would really love to ask you about being a Managing Director. Now you used to be the Managing Director at Victory Gardens and then you moved over to TimeLine, yes?
Actually I was the General Manager at Victory Gardens. I was there for 15 years, 13 as the GM and about 4 years ago decided I was ready for a change.
Was it because the company was moving in a different direction or were you just feeling complacent?
(spits her coffee) Not complacent. But I did feel things were changing and I had been doing the job for a long time and was looking for a different challenge.
And you found TimeLine! Now TimeLine has done a lot of growing in the past few years and now it is a CAT 1 house right?
We have been growing so much in the past 3 years. We are in our final year of being an Equity CAT N theater and next year we will be finished with that program and probably be at Tier 2. We are still working out those details.
So being a CAT theater does not mean that there are any cats there at all though, right?
Not that I have seen but we had some pretty strange things happen in the building after we all left Saturday night so maybe it was cats.
Oh my God tell us.
Big Bessie the air conditioner was unplugged sometime between 2 AM and 11AM and there were some door stops missing. Very strange.
Woah. That sounds like this one time when my air conditioner was like all making this weird noise...
Would you like some pills?
So Liz, what can you attribute Lifeline's success to?
Nice! I don't know what Lifeline's success has been attributed to but TimeLine's success comes from planning and attention to detail on everything we do. We joke as a staff that this can be maddening but we know when it does not happen that is when things are go wrong. The company has a long history of strategic planning and sound fiscal management and those 2 things have allowed this company to not only manage the constantly changing fiscal climate we have been experiencing the last several years but to grow. It the last 2 years we have increased our subscription base by 75%.
OH SNAP! But you can't say it's all about planning- Hang on I hear something...
But you are clearly doing something that people want to see. What is it about the art that makes people want to keep coming back? Is there an experience you are giving the audience they can't get anywhere else?
When PJ (PJ Powers, Artistic Director at TimeLine) and the 6 other company members are picking the season a huge part of the discussion they have about every play under consideration is "What conversation do we want to have with our audience about this piece and why is it relevant to what is going on in the world today." We also want to give them an unique experience. We have a flexible space and while it is a huge undertaking to reimagine the space and lobby for each show our patrons love to see what the space looks like each time they come back. What Nick Bowling had done with the design team for The Front Page is amazing and something we hadn't been able to do in the space in the past.
In your job, how much do you get to be involved in the "Art"?
I attend as many of the company meetings as I can. Because we work very hard to keep the "art" and equally import the mission as the front of everything we do we talk about it all the time.
Pretty much every time we talk about possibility of doing something new or something differently the conversation with the company, staff or board is and has to be about "How does this serve our mission."
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I think I hear a ghost.
So for being around for only 13 years, you have made some huge leaps. Where did your board come from, and when are you guys gonna get out of that weirdo church?
The church has been a great partner for TimeLine. They are so supportive of our mission. They bring a group to every show. But as PJ always says the space was not build to be a theatre of the 20th century let alone the 21st. The building will be 100 years old this year. We have the problems you have with an old building and we also are busting at the seams. We love the space but one of our many realities is we have more people who want to see our shows than we have seats. One of things we are doing next year to solve this challenge is to produce one show next year in a different venue so we can run all productions for 13 weeks. I don't have an answer to when we will be in a different home but it is a discussion with every group within the TimeLine Theatre Company, the staff, company, and with our subscribers and donors.
Our board members have come from a variety of places. The Arts and Business Council has a program called On Board where we have found great board members. Many of our board members have come from our audience and others where required by current board members.
Do you guys ever play softball or touch football with other theatre companies?
(falls off of her stack for books from laughing so hard)
YOU BETTER STOP LAUGHING AT US!
No we are not much into team sports at TimeLine. I'm not sure why that is. Ben Thiem might be up for that.
Well we will be sure to ask him, whoever that is. Thanks for meeting with us down here and we hope you get out safely. We can't go with you though, because we live down here now.
You are welcome. Do you mind if I take this Scholastic Early Reader? I think PJ's daughter would enjoy it?
Fine, but tell PJ he owes us. He owes us but good.
Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer
Eric Roach and Anderson Lawfer are the founders of www.Reviewsyoucaniews.blogspot.com
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