Behind The Scenes: Jennifer Waxman, Theatre Producer
BY Paloma Estévez, September 29, 2017
A series of articles that feature Theatre Makers from the other side of the stage.
Jennifer Waxman '19 holds an honors BFA in Drama from the Tisch School of the Arts and previously earned an O-1 Visa for artists of extraordinary ability. She has produced workshops and productions in the United States and Canada, including workshops and concert readings of Leaving Eden, which Jennifer also wrote, and has successfully received funding. The most recent workshop took place at Indiana University in partnership with The Bloomington Playwrights Project. Jennifer’s project, Scrap Mettle Arts, advocates for emerging artists, helping them gain resources through their work rather than their resume. Jennifer is Managing Director of the Hess Collective under the artistic direction of Elizabeth Hess and is an MFA candidate in theatre management and producing at Columbia University. Her current MFA internship is General Management at Brierpatch Productions.
Why did you decide to become a theatre producer?
I hate the feeling of inertia due to a lack of control, so I started making my own work. Within that, I felt the need to be the one driving things forward and instinctively fell into a producing role. I love supporting the process and being able to move from one part of a project to the next, constantly problem-solving.
What's the role of a theatre producer? What are the challenges of that role?
Every producer has their own definition of what a producer does—some are more creative, some prefer to work on the financial model, etc. I think that in itself is a challenge. No one knows what a producer does! They think we're "the money". Yes, part of our job is to secure funding, but if that's all it was, I may as well be securing investors on Wall Street and make a lot more money! I consider myself a creative producer. One challenge I face is deciding when I step into the creative process and when do I let it be. Earlier I mentioned control; that urge can sometimes seep into minutia that is not mine to streamline.
What are you working on right now?
I am lucky enough to be working on a few projects right now! A few new musicals as a freelancer and some straight plays as an intern at Brierpatch Productions. I am really excited to work on a few upcoming Columbia shows. I look at alumni who work with each other. It makes me stop and think: Is this director or this playwright the next so-and-so? Will I be working with them two decades from now? I am really inspired knowing that I am working with the next generation of great theatre-makers.
What would you like to be doing in 10 years?
I would like to have my own producing firm. I would fill it with incredible associates and general managers so that I can be more involved with the creative team. In ten years, I would like to be accepting the Tony for Best New Musical or on a plane to Europe for the international expansion of an institution I helped found —aka a tangible bench post achievement that shows me I have made a mark on the theatrical industry.