Stars Behind The Stars: Adam Hess '02
BY Robbie Armstrong, November 5, 2019
Stars Behind The Stars is a bi-weekly series featuring theatre makers behind the scenes.
This week we sat down with Theatre Management and Producing alumnus and faculty Adam Hess ’02 and discussed his work as the Executive General Manager at Daryl Roth Theatre.
Hess is an Aries who has managed the Daryl Roth Theatre for over 11 years and oversaw the construction of the DR2 Theatre. General Management credits include: Love, Loss, And What I Wore, The Divine Sister, Through The Night, Dear Edwina, The Temperamentals, Die! Mommie! Die!, Sandra Bernhard: Everything Bad & Beautiful, Vigil, Esoterica, Manuscript and Thom Pain. Hess also serves on the Board of the Off-Broadway League and is Chair of the Marketing Committee.
How does your astrological sign appear in your work?
Adam Hess: Aries are the pioneers of the zodiac. I have to figure things out without having the map. Many theatrical projects do not have a traditional route, so I try to figure out how to get them where they want to go. It involves a great deal of creative thinking. There isn’t a straight line between where they start and where they end up.
Aries’ are traditionally passionate, go-getters, and sometimes stubborn. How do those traits assist you in theatre?
AH: You have to be passionate about theatre. You have to be a go-getter because if you don’t go for it, someone else will. That stubborness will push you to believe in a show regardless of outside views.
What was your first experience in theatre?
AH: I was 8 years old and I played Simon in A Christmas Carol at the Shaw Festival in Toronto.
What are the reasons you transitioned from performance to management?
AH: I loved creative process and I liked putting the show together. As a performer I didn’t feel I had as much creative control so I switched over and pursued an MFA at Columbia.
How has your Columbia education prepared you for a career in theatre?
AH: I learned the importance of networking. No matter who walks in the door, that person could be someone you work with or work for. Columbia puts you in the room with many incredible professionals. I learned to value those experiences.
What was your career like after leaving Columbia?
AH: During my time at Columbia, I interned with Daryl Roth. There wasn’t enough room in the office for me to have a desk so I often had to work on my own with little supervision. When I graduated, I reached out to ask for a reference and Daryl offered me a job as a manager of her downtown theatre. It was a huge leap in my career but Daryl saw that I was a self starter and could work in the office which was away from the main production office.
You’ve worked on a lot of immersive shows. Could you tell me about creating immersive theatre?
AH: It is often very expensive. Site specific theatre in Manhattan is pricey and while it’s much cheaper in Brooklyn, producers are weary of putting on theatre outside of Manhattan. They’re worried audiences won’t follow the show out there. London is much better at creating immersive theatre because it’s so much cheaper for them to do.
At Daryl Roth Productions do you focus on producing particular shows or particular artists?
AH: Daryl believes in the artist first. One of her long relationships has been with Paula Vogel. Daryl produced How I Learned to Drive back in the 1990’s and is now bringing it to Broadway this season. We also produced Indecent which was Vogel’s Broadway debut.
If you could be any famous child, which one would you be?
AH: Shakespeare’s child so I could copyright his work and get the royalties.
What projects are you currently working on?
AH: At Daryl Roth Productions, we’re working on a lot of immersive shows and commercial ventures. This season we’re producing Between The Lines a new musical, at Second Stage Theatre. The show is written by Timothy Allen McDonald, Kate Anderson, and Elyssa Samsel. They’re the next big thing.
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