It may take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to put on plays and keep an organization like the Goodman humming along. We’re creating a new series of blog posts to reveal the men and women behind the curtain; check back here for monthly interviews with Goodman staffers about their work, their passion for theater and their lives outside the Goodman.
Our first interviewee is Julie Massey, longtime executive assistant to artistic director Robert Falls. Julie is known by other staff members for her infallible institutional memory—she’s the one we ask when we want to know who directed what in the 1990s—as well as her dedicated and enthusiastic support of every show we produce.
How long have you worked at the Goodman?
As of this coming October, I will have worked at the Goodman for 22 years.
What drew you to work in this position, and/or what drew you to work in theater?
I started working in theater while I was teaching high school English and going to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. My interest in the relationship between experiences in the arts and cognitive development led me to study acting and directing, and also to help coordinate the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Open Stage Program for public schools. After to moving to Chicago to teach at Lake Forest College, I became involved in the evenings and on weekends with Touchstone Theatre, one of Chicago’s tiny off-Loop companies. Like everyone else at Touchstone, I did a little bit of everything, from acting to stage-managing, dramaturging, teaching classes and of course, cleaning toilets. When I made the decision to jump from academe to a full-time job in professional theater, I was fortunate to be offered a position at the Goodman.
What are your primary job duties?
As Robert Falls’ assistant I am primarily responsible for managing his appointment book, files and correspondence; arranging his travel; updating his CV and program bio; and facilitating his communication with other staff members, associate and guest artists, trustees and professional colleagues outside of the Goodman and Chicago.
Is there anything you do in your job that most people find surprising, or that they wouldn’t expect you to do?
I copyedit materials for other departments, and I occasionally write articles for our subscriber newsletter.
In what capacity do you support or interact with artists?
I routinely assist artists who want to reach Bob or other members of the artistic staff, need help with tickets or have general questions about the Goodman. I also moderate some of our post-show discussions and give tours of the theater to visiting artists. Last but not least, I do my best to let our guest artists know—in person or in writing—how much I enjoy and respect their work, and to sing their praises to anyone who will listen.
What has been your favorite Goodman production during the time you’ve worked here?
I have too many favorite productions to single out just one, but certainly King Lear and both productions of The Iceman Cometh [1990 and 2012] are among them.
Do you work with other theater companies around town? What are your hobbies outside of work?
I try to take advantage of tantalizing opportunities to direct or act that sometimes come my way. Otherwise, I read pretty voraciously, write so-so poetry and love doing almost anything that gets me outdoors and into the mountains.
Who is your favorite Christmas Carol character, and why?
For his unquenchable generosity and love of life, Mr. Fezziwig is my favorite character in A Christmas Carol.