What is a company manager? In the theatre world there are actors, stage managers, directors, dramaturgs, designers of sets and costumes, dressers, wig makers, carpenters, electricians, prop masters, assistant stage managers and they all are deeply involved in the moment by moment performance of a play. A company manager sits back and observes and insures that the entire company is well taken care of and the every person in the theatre is having the best time possible.
I have had the great pleasure of working with some wonderful company managers. Liza Witmer at the Public Theatre is someone I hold in the highest regard. Tess Lina at Shakespeare Orange County runs a very classy show. Sarah Peachy at The Show Must Go Online is the first company manager that I’ve met and worked with that I have yet to meet. She is a total pro and her shows always play to perfection.
But at the beginning of my career I met and worked with a company manager who defined the job for me and who set the bar very high. Her name was Mary Rindfleisch. She was company manager of The Camden Shakespeare Company, where I served as an apprentice in my first professional job.
Mary was tough, exacting, fun, strict, gentle, tough, patient and fair. She took time to tutor a rough and tumble ex-marine in the finer points of proper behavior. I learned all the important lessons of professional conduct from Mary. I can still see the exasperated look in her eyes on the morning after I decided to improvise during Act I, Scene I of Hamlet. I knew she was not happy, but she treated it as a teaching moment. I learned my lesson, tout suite.
Today I learned that Mary passed away in 2018 leaving behind her husband of 30 years and a band of New England librarians who thrived under her leadership. It makes sense that she gravitated to Library Science. She was so clear, and concise and orderly. She was the perfect company manger. She created a safe and orderly place for storytelling artists to play.
I always thought I would see Mary again and spend an evening reminiscing about our Camden days.
God Bless you Mary.