Thursday, April 2, 2009

Meet Woolly Mammoth

It’s a story every theatre practitioner knows by heart: scrappy company of artists with a daring approach to art sets out to change the world, scrappy company encounters success and makes some money, scrappy company hires a few staff members, scrappy company buys a building… and suddenly scrappy company’s daring approach to the art form is in jeopardy.

Sadly, this story usually ends with a slow, steady drift away from the company’s core values. But Washington, D.C.-based Woolly Mammoth is determined not to let success get in the way of a good thing.

Woolly Mammoth’s Think It grant is intended to stimulate creative thinking among the Woolly Mammoth staff – by giving them all time off. Every staff member will be taking one- to two-week paid sabbaticals, and shadowing someone who works in another profession. Staff members hope to return to the theatre with new ideas, new energy, new approaches, and new relationships and inroads into audience and donor bases.

Not every theatre company would have zeroed in on staff members as key players in the company’s continued commitment to innovation. But Woolly Mammoth is interested in integrating new ideas at every level of the company. Woolly Mammoth wants to ensure that the cutting-edge thinking they bring to the plays they produce gets translated to staff members. Check back as these sabbaticals take shape – we’ll be talking about what worked, and what didn’t work.

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