Case Study 4.4
A NEW DIRECTION FOR THE UPSTAGE THEATRE
The board of the Upstage Theatre Company had assembled to hear the Artistic Director’s proposals for the following year’s season. Mark Buck, the Artistic Director, had built a reputation on his staging of popular comic seasons, and most members of the board expected a similar proposal this year.
Buck entered the boardroom, and after a few general remarks, began to speak about his plans for the season. As he spoke, the board members began to look at each other with astonishment. Buck was proposing a radical departure with a Shakespearean tragedy and working up to a piece by Arthur Miller. At the end of this totally unexpected proposal he looked around at his audience. ‘Any questions’ he asked rather blandly, while privately enjoying the obvious bewilderment on the part of the board. He loved surprising people!
Jean Carlisle, the chair of the board, was the only one not surprised by the proposal, as Buck had approached her several weeks ago and dropped some hints about his idea. Buck, she had a shrewd suspicion, was out primarily to promote his own career. Known as a ‘comedy man’ first and foremost, he was in danger of being typecast within the industry. Only by rounding out his production experience could he hope to progress.
Carlisle, however, could see a lot of possibilities in the proposal for a ‘serious’ season, even though she knew it would be dismissed as foolhardy by a number of the established board members. Her involvement with the Upstage Theatre was based on a sincere commitment to the cultural development of the community. Lately, she had been coming under some fire from her family and friends for not urging that more ‘culturally significant’ work be performed by the Theatre. When she had first heard of Buck’s proposal, she had decided to support it and had accordingly begun to consider how best to get the board to support it as well.
Now she turned to Robert Ramsay, a board member...
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