What California Community Theatre Folks Do For Day Jobs

It is probably common knowledge is that folks participating in community theatre have some kind of day jobs: we work at those in some format of 9-5pm hours, then spend evenings and weekends at the theatre, performing, volunteering, working backstage, and on and on. Sometimes the place we go during the day has some relation to what we do at the theatre, sometimes it does not. There's a section of folks who are paid staff members at their community theatre, but maybe that wasn't always the case; maybe they once held 'other' day jobs. While there have certainly been articles or discussions about day jobs in theatre before this, I was curious if there was anything unique about California day jobbers. While I'm not sure if that's been determined here, I was (as usual) thrilled to get to know some of you better by finding out about what you do when you're not at your theatre. Thanks to all who participated in this story.

Leira V Satlof, Artistic Producing Director at

Ferndale Repertory Theatre in Ferndale

What do you currently do for a day job?

Artistic Producing Director and college teacher.

Are there any aspects of your day job that particularly allow you to pursue your involvement in community theatre?

Every aspect.

Please list any community theatres you are involved with (or have been in the past) and your positions (ie: actor, director, volunteer, board member, etc)

Ferndale Repertory Theatre, Artistic Producing Director/Director/Actor; Redwood Curtain, volunteer; Pacific Art Center Theatre, actor/director.

Have you ever held any other particularly interesting or unique day jobs in the past while you were involved with community theatre?

I worked for a synagogue as music director for 18 years.

Any other information or stories you would like to share about your day job?

I am glad that I am fully employed in the theatre, though I wish I could afford to have just one job!

Gary Daigneault, President at Theatre 29 in Twentynine Palms

What do you currently do for a day job?

Radio personality and Journalist.

Are there any aspects of your day job that particularly allow you to pursue your involvement in community theatre?

Yes, I am able to publicize theater activities and productions.

Please list any community theatres you are involved with (or have been in the past) and your positions (ie: actor, director, volunteer, board member, etc)

Theatre 29, Board President, Director, Youth Yheater program director.

Have you ever held any other particularly interesting or unique day jobs in the past while you were involved with community theatre?

The same.

Any other information or stories you would like to share about your day job?

I have been doing the morning radio show in this market for 37 years.

Ken Getz, Board of Directors & Musical Director at

Sierra Stages in Nevada City


What do you currently do for a day job?

Retired, except for theater.

Are there any aspects of your day job that particularly allow you to pursue your involvement in community theatre?

I found it extremely difficult to work even part time and do theater, so I used that as a good reason to retire!

Please list any community theatres you are involved with (or have been in the past) and your positions (ie: actor, director, volunteer, board member, etc)

Sierra Stages (board member, musical director).

Have you ever held any other particularly interesting or unique day jobs in the past while you were involved with community theatre?

Technical writer/programmer; made it far easier to do my technical jobs with Sierra Stages.

Gregory Cohen, Actor & Director at Various Theatres in Southern CA

What do you currently do for a day job?

Education Manager for children's science museum outreach program.

Are there any aspects of your day job that particularly allow you to pursue your involvement in community theatre?

I work only during school hours, leaving my evenings and weekends free. My job also allows a great deal of flexibility with my work hours.

Please list any community theatres you are involved with (or have been in the past) and your positions (ie: actor, director, volunteer, board member, etc)

Long Beach Playhouse ( director, actor), Huntington Beach Playhouse ( director, actor), The Grove ( director), Chino Community Theatre ( director).

Have you ever held any other particularly interesting or unique day jobs in the past while you were involved with community theatre?

Attractions Lead at The Queen Mary, Technical Editor at Boeing.

Your call is tonight at 7pm! That means you have to put in a full day of non-community theatre work, and get to the theatre on time! How many times have you been stuck on the freeway on the way to an audition, ran into the dressing room as the curtain was rising, or has that all-necessary day job become the bane of your theatre existence? My husband Stephen Lydic shares his experience of turning his day job challenge into a fantastic tradition in honor of those folks who wear many hats daily, and whose hours away from home are split between the daily grind and what we do for love.

My day job at a coffee shop called the Yellow Vase was a fine day job, and even interesting, because the owners were, umm, let's just say they were shady about the tips we got, which they 'kept for us until later'. That kept us staffers awake during the day, not the mediocre free coffee. However, while I was touring with a favorite local company based out of San Pedro, Shakespeare by the Sea, the early morning coffee shop job really brought down the hammer of exhaustion, especially if you finally got home from Pasadena at 1:00am, were due at the ol' Yellow Vase at 7 sharp (I was rarely sharp to that job), and then due in Altadena at 5:30 that night. It was a rough go, though no actor should complain about getting to do outdoor repertory Shakespeare all summer. One night I got stuck at the Yellow Vase later than usual, they called it "staff shortages", and I had to leave straight from Palos Verdes across town north to Beverly Hills, where we were performing Much Ado about Nothing. I got there right at call time, but completely on fumes. And the thing about Shakespeare by the Sea is that the whole cast also unloads and assembles the set. And disassembles it afterward. I was all for being part of the working man's good fight, usually, but that evening I looked around at twelve other drooping, red eyed actors, actors dragging platforms, spinning old ratchets, stumbling over costume racks, and laying in the grass hoping no one would notice them, and I hollered, "Someone should at least get a break from taking this set down tonight! They should get... a beer break! Just them!" Exhaustion from working at the coffee shop compelled me to shout this random comment, but everyone was energized by the idea, and our producer was even on board. So that night, before the set came down, we drew one name from a plumed hat, and that actor, a young man named Matt who only wore yoga pants, got to sit and drink a cold beer while we packed up, razzing us the whole time. Once you were drawn from the hat, you were out of circulation until everyone had a shot. But the rest of the summer, knowing you could be drawn next kept you going. I finally got my turn about three shows before we stopped touring. I sat on the dark, drinking an icy Heineken, watching others do back breaking labor. It was lovely. And it's a tradition Shakespeare by the Sea carries on to this day. And we have a twerpy South Bay coffee shop to thank for that rich heritage. So if you see some actor sitting off to the side after a show, not helping a lick, just leave him be. Or get him a beer. He probably has work in the morning.

Stephen Lydic grew up in Austin, Texas, then earned a BFA in Performance from the University of

Memphis. His next stop was Chicago, where he worked for seven years in the city-wide theater scene.

He met his wife Liz performing summer stock with in Indiana at the Red Barn Summer Theater. In L.A. theater, Stephen has played Seymour Krelbourne in Little Shop of Horrors (Long Beach Playhouse), Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare by the Sea), and variety of creepy characters in Comedy of Errors (LA Theater Ensemble). He can be seen in films and commercials, and heard providing voices for several characters for the animated series Seedlings. His day jobs include script writing/teaching/camp directing for Performing Arts Workshop, tutoring, and work at The Mark Taper Forum and the Kirk Douglas Theater, where you might run into him hosting a discussion after a show. At right, Stephen is in action leading a workshop on youth theatre at a AACTFest.

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