Operating since 2001 on a project-to-project basis, never sure whether the company would be able to secure the resources to produce any of its various works in development, The Civilians found themselves thrust into the national theater spotlight in 2009. Audiences, the press, arts funders, and professionals from the theater field had begun to recognize The Civilians as a company to watch, and seemed eager for more. The next logical step appeared to be professionalization: setting the company on the path toward establishing a consistent season of programming, rather than working on a project-to-project basis. But how was this small company going to sustain that level of operation, given its shoestring budget, two full-time staff members, and lack of a theater space to call its own, all on the tails of an economic recession? Perhaps the current production model, though limiting in scope, offered a flexibility that was well-suited to the company’s needs? Simultaneously, The Civilians’ leadership was grappling with the question of whether to focus on getting its work in front of an audience, or on developing new plays. Self-producing and self-presenting its shows guaranteed that The Civilians’ work would get seen, but it was costly and resource-draining. The other option, prioritizing new play development, would involve shopping out The Civilians’ shows to outside producers and presenters, as well as frequent cross-country touring, both of which posed complications. The Civilians’ leadership was torn, and wanted to consider all options before deciding on the best next course of action.
This case study provides an opportunity to discuss professionalization and production model options for companies that tour work. The case video includes interview footage.
Publication Date: 2013-03-12
Suggested Citation: Caitlin Hannon, "The Civilians (2009)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case 11-41, March 12, 2013
Keywords: Case Video, Theater, Performing Arts, New York City, Growth, Organizational Direction, Professionalization, Small Organization
Teaching Notes: Yes (please contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
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