You may have already had a chance to meet Jeff at a Parkway Playhouse event, but in case you haven’t… here’s a first introduction to him and his new role.
PP: What role do you believe theatre plays in a community?
Jeff: A theatre should bring people together; people from all parts of the community. Its a place where people, young and old, can safely challenge themselves to learn new skills and build self-confidence. A theatre welcomes people from all walks of life and has a way of helping people who are feeling a little lost to find their way. A good theatre will have a mix of plays and musicals: some that just make you laugh out loud, others that challenge the way we see the world, and some that make us cry and there are those plays that do all of that at once. Experiencing those moments together, as an audience, is important for a community. That actually builds community.
For Parkway Playhouse the role of the junior program, the conservatory, is very powerful and exceptional for a community this size. Whether a young person dreams of performing on Broadway or their parents want them to gain confidence for a job interview, or they just want to have fun singing and dancing, the junior program provides that opportunity. Lifelong, positive memories are created there.
PP: Your last job was working for another non-profit in Asheville (Western NC AIDS Project) What was it that appealed to you about a theatre job?
Jeff: It feels like I’m going back to my roots. I’ve always been a part of a theatre, at least since high school. My undergraduate degree is in theatre and I’ve worked professionally as a director and an actor. I’ve built scenery, run lights and sound, designed sets (not very well), been a stage manager. This is a dream job for me that combines my theatre knowledge with extensive management experience.
PP: What is your primary role at Parkway Playhouse as Executive Director?
Jeff: As Executive Director I have a wide range of duties. One of the most important roles is to represent the organization in the community, with local government officials, tourism and development offices, other non-profits. To do this well, I need to be able to share our vision for the future as an organization so the board and staff will be creating a strategic plan that looks ahead. We will spend some time listening to community members regarding how they see Parkway Playhouse growing over time. I will be facilitating this process. By mid-December we want to be done and have the finished product. That may seem like a long way off but since the process requires in-person meetings and conversations with very busy people its going to take some time. And of course we have all of our daily work to do in addition to the strategic planning work. But its very exciting and will be worth the effort. The plan will guide our work for some years to come. I don’t see myself acting or directing here anytime soon; there just isn’t time right now.
PP: What excites you the most about your new position?
Jeff: I’ve been welcomed by and am getting a huge amount of support from community members and staff here. That’s a great feeling. Its thrilling to join a group of people who are creative, energetic and passionate about teaching, learning and entertaining.
PP: What’s the Holiday show this year?
Jeff: Stay tuned to our Facebook page. We will be announcing that in the coming weeks.
PP: When will we find out what the 2018 shows are?
Jeff: You’ll have to come the end of the year party on October 21st to find that out!
PP: What do you envision for Parkway Playhouse in five years?
Jeff: Even sooner than five years I’d like Parkway Playhouse to host more bluegrass concerts, show some movies now and then, and do other things beyond traditional main stage productions. We’ll keep those going strong of course; just add a few new things. Who knows what will happen, but maybe we will develop a larger rehearsal space and office space. Why not throw in a cafe while we are at it?! I’m just dreaming now. If we have the space I’d love to have visiting playwrights work on developing new works with local and national actors during the summer.
So, be on the lookout for Jeff at the next show (opening this weekend) and be sure to give him a warm welcome.