In the two hours I spent in Greg Parmeter’s office at the Weber Center he managed to chip away at two long-term projects, develop the upcoming theatrical season, field questions from co-workers on a musical, and collaborate with an advertising firm on the 2014-2015 Season Brochure – all while giving advice to an aspiring producer.
Parmeter, the La Crosse Community Theatre’s artistic director, spends (on average) 11 hours a day in the Weber Center. Though the lines of the theater management and rehearsals often blur, he schedules seven hours a day in his office, and four in rehearsal.
“Normally when I’m directing, about half the day is spent in prep for rehearsals.” Parmeter said. “The rest of the day is dealing with the day-to-day operations of the theater.”
These operations, which range from securing performance-sponsorships to writing press releases, don’t stop at the doors of the theater. With the recent construction of the Weber Center, Parmeter has been busy creating community outreach events, working with Viterbo University on education and facility partnerships, and expanding the theater’s education program.
Ultimately, it’s the passion of crafting a piece of art that takes precedence over everything else. His passion is clear when speaking about the La Crosse Community Theatre.
“That’s actually what’s kept us here this long – the quality and the passion for what we
do here.” Parmeter said. “Never did I imagine doing community theater voluntarily, but it was a position that I had good reliable pay, health insurance…plus the level of work that was being done was enough to satisfy me artistically.”
In fact, Parmeter never imagined doing community theater as a profession at all. After graduating with an undergraduate degree in history, Parmeter enrolled at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film to earn his MFA in Direction. His wife, Mandy (costumer for La Crosse Community Theatre) is also an alumnus of the Carson School of Theatre and Film.
La Crosse wasn’t on either of the Parmeter’s radars, but when Mandy Parmeter was offered the lead costumer job, the couple took the opportunity to see what La Crosse had to offer. Shortly after, the position of Artistic Director opened up, and he took the job.
Parmeter was struck by the level of professionalism seen on the small La Crosse stage. Though the original theater (which is now owned by Cavalier Lounge) had no stage-right wing or a backstage, the quality of the shows was far beyond that of a community theater.
Several times throughout the job shadow, Parmeter attributed that to two groups: his predecessors and his co-workers. The latter, which now totals a group of eight artists, relies on collaboration to accomplish nearly every theatrical task. The trust and mutual respect surprised me on my tour throughout the third floor of the Weber Center, and affirmed what I expected about artist collaboration.
As Parmeter said, “Nobody ever has a completely independent idea here. But that’s not to say we don’t have independently brilliant artists.”
Here more from Parmeter below!