In these very strange times Everyman Theatre, along with many arts organizations, is looking forward to reopening for the 2020-2021 Season. They will be doing this with a brand-new Managing Director, Marissa LaRose. In their own words, “Everyman is a professional Equity theatre company celebrating the actor, with a Resident Company of artists from the Baltimore/DC area.”
Vincent M. Lancisi. the Founding Artistic Director, will be working closely with Ms. LaRose to continue to produce “high-quality plays that are affordable and accessible to everyone.”
I had a chance to ask Marissa LaRose some questions about herself and her new position.
Bio: Ms. LaRose comes to Everyman Theatre after an 11-year tenure at Washington DC’s nationally-renown Arena Stage, where she quickly rose through the organization. In her most recent capacity as Senior Director of Operations, Ms. LaRose oversaw all contracting for over 200 artists annually in Arena’s 10-show season, the facility operation and maintenance of their 200,000 square foot facility, and approximately $5 million of the organization’s $23 million annual operating budget.
She has been a guest lecturer and conducted workshops on theater management, stage management, resumes and cover letters, and has been a facilitator for multiple education programs at Arena Stage. Additionally, Ms. LaRose and has served as an event manager for Turnaround Arts at the Kennedy Center, the Junior Theater Festival, and Hotopp Associates’ annual Ice! shows.
A Cum Laude graduate of Truman State University in Missouri, Ms. LaRose holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies: Public Relations.
- Many people who frequent the theatre do not realize what happens backstage or what happens in the front office. All they see is the live performance. Can you explain as simply as possible what the responsibilities are for a Managing Director for a modern theatre company?
There are so many unseen people working to make what you see happen! Many regional theaters, Everyman included, are led by a partnership: An Artistic Director and a Managing Director. The Artistic Director leads the artistic vision of the theater and the Managing Director drives the support for that vision. It is really a true partnership constantly working to find the balance between ambition and capacity. The Managing Director must always find a way to support the staff and artists while the organization pushes forward.
- How do you think working in management in Baltimore will be different than working in D.C.?
I do think that the management of organizations like Everyman is similar across cities, but of course each city brings about new management possibilities and challenges. One of primary differences is the state support in Maryland in addition to Baltimore City – that’s something that DC doesn’t have! I’m also excited to worry less about the impact that nationally held events have on our theater activity – less motorcades and street shutdowns!
- Do you think there is a difference in audience as reflected by the population of the two cities from ticket prices to actors to plays they would want go to see?
Absolutely. Each city has its own culture and it is our job as a theater to support and connect to that community culture. I can definitely feel that Baltimore has a rooted, hometown vibe with a huge amount of pride and I am excited to be steeped in that energy. I think Everyman contributes to that energy most through our Resident Company that audiences are able to connect with time after time; the community support for that Company speaks volumes to me about what is important to the Baltimore community.
- With the terrible virus keeping so many of us away from the Arts it seems theatre will be one of the last places to reopen. How can theatres like Everyman sustain themselves during this time?
During the hardest times we rely on our families and that’s no different in this case. Theaters are working all across the country to reestablish and reimagine how we can serve our communities without losing who we really are at our core. It’s so challenging when what sets us apart as an artform — finding collective empathy by experiencing a story in the same room as the storyteller — is the very thing we are unable to do. While we are strategizing what we can give to our community during this time of isolation (Wine Wednesday anyone?), we are relying on our family of audiences and donors to stick with us now and be ready to gather with us as soon as we are safely able.
- Beyond this scourge, what direction do you see Everyman Theatre headed in the 2020’s and beyond?
I’m so excited to see this company grow. There is such talent and loyalty in the group of artists and managers gathered at this theater that there is no doubt it is going places. The stories that Everyman tells on its stages are consistently and uniquely authentic and we’re finding ways to take that further. Just before we closed for the virus, we had launched our first New Voices Festival in a brand-new upstairs theater. With every season we’re increasing the ways in which we connect with our community through camps, classes, post-show discussions and events. I’m so eager to fill our building to the brim with both old and new art for our community when we return!
Everyman Theatre is a proud member of the Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District, the Market Center Merchants Association and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.
For more information about Everyman Theatre go to their website.
These are perilous times for all theatre. Everyman Theatre is non-profit and relies on ticket sales and donations to continue to produce high caliber plays in the Baltimore Area. If you would like to donate please go to this link.
Writer’s Note: If you would usually go see a performance, donate at least the price of a ticket. If we all do that for all our favorite performing arts organization, they will be around when this is all over.