My wife, Patti, and I have produced or executive produced six A.C.T. productions (A Mother, A Number, The Voysey Inheritance, The Imaginary Invalid, The Rainmaker, and the upcoming Boleros for the Disenchanted, pictured at right). When we were first invited to participate at this level I was not sure what to expect. In the film world, lots of people invest to have their name associated with a movie as a producer or executive producer with no expectations of ever being included in the making the movie. And yes, in most cases, it’s wise not to have people who are neither skilled nor experienced messing around with the creative process. That being said and recognized, the experience of producing at A.C.T. has far exceeded our expectations. Regardless of the medium—whether it be visual or performing arts—for Patti and me, our “thing” is to see the creative process unfold and come to life. What I have learned over the years is that what happens throughout the process—from the first reading of a play by the cast and director (and sometimes in the presence of the playwright, like when we were in the room with David Mamet the first time he heard the reading of his adaptation for A.C.T. of Harley Granville-Barker’s The Voysey Inheritance), to the technical rehearsals, through studio rehearsals, into previews and opening night, and sitting in the booth to hear the stage manager “call the show”—is the creation of magic. What starts as something so rough and raw that it seems unimaginable that it will ever make it successfully to “the big stage” ultimately comes alive and pulls together on opening night, and real magic is created. And as producers we can bask in being a part of that process.
At the annual A.C.T. gala last week someone asked me, “What do you get out of executive producing?” The answer came easy. What we get out of producing is that we receive the intrinsic reward of being “noncreatives” who can, through our contribution to A.C.T., be a part of bringing to life, through the creative process, a production that is unique and special for the audience and the actors. The pride I feel when “it all comes together” is many times overwhelming. But just as important has been the gratification that two people (who are products of the corporate world) feel when we see tangible results from our contributions. When we see the highest level of quality and excellence on the stage, perfection in the acting, and passion in the audience response—from tears to laughter—then we know that we have produced real results. And in this time, when the contribution dollars don’t come as easily and we each are having to evaluate with greater scrutiny where we direct our donations, with A.C.T. we rest assured that real results can be produced.
Patti and Rusty Rueff at A.C.T.'s Season Gala Illuminate the Night