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Tectonic Theater Project (2016)

Tectonic Theater Project (2016)

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Yale School of Drama
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Lauren Wainwright, Executive Director of Tectonic Theater Project, was preparing for her meeting with the company’s Artistic Director, Moisés Kaufman. It had been more than a year since Wainwright took the job, and, as she went through the meeting agenda, her thoughts drifted to what she had observed during her time there, the progress she had facilitated, and the obstacles she had encountered while performing her duties.

Tectonic Theater Project is an award-winning theater company based in New York City. It was founded in 1991 by Moisés Kaufman, who has served as its artistic director ever since. The company started small in Kaufman’s living room and grew to a staff of six operating in a rented office space. It is governed by a 19-member board of directors. A Tony- and Emmy-nominated director and playwright, Kaufman was the cornerstone of the organization and wrote or directed all of the company’s plays. In 2008, Kaufman decided that the company should seek permanent standing beyond its founding leader’s tenure. In the same year, he established the position of executive director.

Lauren Wainwright joined Tectonic as the executive director in May 2015. A former corporate lawyer at Goldman Sachs and a recent graduate of the Theater Management program at Yale School of Drama, she was the third person in this job and was hired to continue the company’s efforts to grow as an institution. She found that the company was “still very young in administrative infrastructure.” It had no formalized play development structure, its producing model was tightly linked with Kaufman’s personal network, and Kaufman made most of the decisions affecting the company’s operations. Whenever Kaufman was away, the staff found it very hard to move forward.

When Wainwright arrived in 2015, Tectonic had just kicked off its strategic planning process; its previous plan covered 2012-2015. She thought it the appropriate moment to have a conversation with Kaufman and discuss where the company should go from here, but what should she address?

Publication Date: 2017-05-15

Suggested Citation: Ruoran (Kathy) Li, "Tectonic Theater Project (2016)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #16-78, May 15, 2017

Keywords: New York, Financial Management, Development, Leadership, Organizational Direction, Scale

Teaching Notes: No

About the Theater Management Knowledge Base

This case is from the Theater Management Knowledge Base, a body of arts management material created by Yale School of Drama Theater Management students and faculty, overseen by an editorial board of leading practitioners. For more information or for help in selecting cases suitable for your educational or organizational purposes, please email yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu.