In July 2012, in the small town of Blue Lake, California, Michael Fields, the producing artistic director of Dell’Arte International, gazed at the fog hanging on the mountains as he strolled down the rural road leading from Dell’Arte’s main building to its Riverside Campus. Once inside, he stood in the back of the building’s large studio workshop space and watched as Ronlin Foreman, the school director at Dell’Arte, worked with the students on the raised springboard floor. The students’ backflips, handstands, crab crawls, and vocal chants filled Fields with pride as he recalled the decades of work that Dell’Arte had done as both a performing company and as a school.
Fields had spent all morning in a meeting with the rest of the Hub, the group of five staff members who led Dell’Arte, discussing what was being called the Big Idea: a world tour showcasing the unique style of ensemble-based physical theater which the company had developed over the previous several decades. This world tour, to take place in the 2014-15 season, would be unlike Dell’Arte’s past international tours. It would be big, with several original plays touring around the world, making a bold statement about what Dell’Arte had become after decades of work.
The Hub members were initially exuberant about the world tour, but had begun to imagine the inevitable challenges that would accompany an effort of such magnitude. There were the logistical issues that tours traditionally face, such as booking venues and financing the travel of a performing ensemble, as well as the staffing and financial limitations common to mid-sized theater companies.
The most pressing challenge arose from the dual role company members served as both performers and faculty members. Dell’Arte was founded in the early ‘70s as both a resident ensemble company and a training school, both of which had become internationally recognized. When Dell’Arte’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program became accredited in 2003, the majority of the school’s faculty were also members of the ensemble company. So the dilemma loomed: How could Dell’Arte send its ensemble members on a grand world tour and simultaneously fulfill its obligation to its students?
Publication Date: 2013-09-01
Suggested Citation: Xaq Webb, "Dell'Arte International (2012)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #12-55, September 1, 2013
Keywords: California, Organizational Culture, Organizational Direction, Performing Arts, Revenue, Small Organization, Training Programs
Teaching Notes: No
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