Stars Behind The Stars: Alexandra Lalonde
BY Robbie Armstrong, February 10, 2020
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 alumna Alexandra Lalonde ’15 and discussed her work as the Producing Director at The TEAM. Lalonde is a Taurus who has worked with The TEAM for nearly two years. She previously served as the Development and Communications Manager at SITI Company.
How does your astrological sign appear in your work?
Alexandra Lalonde: My former grad school roommate used to tell me that as a Taurus, I enjoy luxurious fabric. I guess that’s true [haha]. A Producer is supposed to make sure everyone has what they need to do their best work, and so I think that a sense of groundedness and the ability to see the whole picture of an artistic operation is important. For me, that can sometimes mean digging my heels in to get what the artists need. I try to be very intentional with creative problem solving while following the TEAM’s model of a horizontal creation process, with the goal of gently decentralizing decision-making. My creative problem solving perhaps intersects with the traditional Taurus stubbornness in a unique way.
What was your first experience in theatre?
AL: Growing up, my family lived in London for a while and my parents took me to see a lot of theatre. For my 8th birthday party, my mom found a woman who had a side hustle birthday party business. She came over to our house and helped my friends and I create a play called Who Killed Gloria Gainsborough. I played Gloria Gainsborough and at the end of the party, we put on the play for all the parents.
What do you find unique about The TEAM?
AL: The TEAM specifically focuses on devised collaborative work, that lives at the intersection of art, politics, and social justice. All of the artists wear multiple hats, and everyone is a writer, so you get this beautiful symphony of different voices in the DNA of the world. So there is a real melding of process and product. The TEAM really believes in the idea of “how we make is as important as what we make,” which was articulated by the wonderful artist and activist Orion Johnstone. And I think that the consistent return to that idea in every aspect of our work is pretty wonderful.
What projects are you currently working on?
AL: Well, we just had a meeting where we distributed all of our funds for our Petri Projects program this year. The Petri Projects are a sort of lab program where we fund early development of new seedlings of theatrical ideas. In the past it’s been only open to company members but this year we experimented with a new process for administering the program. We invited any of the artists who have worked with us over the last five years to propose a project that they wanted to work on. They then each worked with me to build a budget for what they wanted to accomplish. Then we met as a sort of quasi-grant panel where the artists themselves decided how to distribute the funds we had available. It was a really beautiful meeting – all of the projects are super exciting, and it was a successful valuable experiment in decentralization.- not only at the artistic level but at the administrative level.
What is the most important role you have at The TEAM?
AL: The Producer is often a liaison between the world of the rehearsal room and the world beyond. Sometimes that means translating the incredibly nuanced work of the piece into a grant application or a pitch to a commissioner or presenter. We’re currently working on a show called Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside), which has 24 writers. We’re actually doing some development work at Dartmouth College this month. One of my most important roles for this production is finding and engaging the right partners to help make the show.
How has your Columbia education prepared you for working at The TEAM?
AL: Steven Chaikelson really promotes the idea that there is no one way to be a producer, and the program pushed us to think about alternative methods for creating art. The Columbia program is unique in its focus on both the nonprofit theatre world and the commercial theatre world and most importantly the overlaps between the two and best practices that can be shared. My class and I are all doing vastly different kinds of work, and we still meet every year for a secret Santa gift exchange.
If you could be any famous child, which one would you be?
AL: She might not be famous here in America but I’d be Meagan Follows. She played Anne of Green Gables in those movies when I was a kid. She was opposite Colleen Dewhurst, Broadway royalty, and they were both incredible.
I didn’t know Anne of Green Gables was Canadian
AL: Well Anne of Green Gables is the most Canadian thing ever.
What’s your favorite play/musical?
AL: Definitely can’t pick this, but I recently saw Waterboy and the Mighty World at Under the Radar, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It really just filled me right up to the brim.