Getting to Know You: Production Assistant Jenny Daniels

If you’ve been keeping up with this series of questions I’ve posed to Geva staff members, you may start to get the impression that it takes a village to run a theatre. It’s a terrible cliche, but it’s so true – when you watch a play, you’re seeing only a fraction of the work that has gone into each production. In fact, over the summer, Geva’s executive director, Tom Parrish, and I put together an estimation of the number of work hours that will go into Geva’s first show of the 2013-2014 season by the time it opens on September 14. Can you guess how many hours we came up with? (Read all the way to the bottom of this post to find the answer…)

Today, from someone who puts in a lot of those work hours for each show at Geva, 20 Questions for Production Assistant Jenny Daniels: 

JW: Give us your basic details – who are you, where are you from, etc.Jenny Daniels
I’m Jenny Daniels, daughter of Alfred Daniels and Charlene Pope, middle child of 3 girls, born in Baltimore, MD, grew up in Brockport, NY, currently shacking up with my boyfriend of 3 years in downtown Rochester. (I don’t usually say “shacking up” but someone said that to me the other day and I wanted to borrow it…we live together.)  I’m a production assistant at Geva, which basically means that I assist the stage manager with prep work, the rehearsal processes, and then during performances, I am in charge of keeping the props and actors organized backstage while the Stage Manager calls the show.

JW: What’s the first play you remember seeing?
Carmen (does opera count?)

JW: Where did you go to school?
I went to SUNY Brockport for Theatre (Major) and Women Studies (Minor).

JW: When did you know you were destined to work in a theatre?
When I was little and my parents took me to see shows, I would always be more interested in the people in the booth than what was happening onstage (so I was constantly turned around in my seat…).

JW: I bet your parents loved that…What would you say is the best part of your job?
Being able to leave at the end of the day and know that whatever stress I feel is the good stress where you are excited and passionate about what you are doing.

Wow, maybe the stress shouldn’t be my favorite part…

JW: Oh, you love the stress – keeps you on your toes!  If you had a job in theatre that wasn’t the one you actually have, what would it be? (Talent for this role is not required…)
I think Props. It’s always amazing to me the amount of research and man hours that go into making our props look authentic, whether it’s for a time period or actual works of art.

JW: When people ask you to describe Rochester, what do you say?
It’s the best place to live. If you have free time you can always find things going on whether its movies at The Little or The Dryden, shows at Abilene, the lake is 20 minutes North, state parks everywhere, the river has a nice bike path now, Cobbs Hill is a great walk if you want a great view of the city, and there are always new restaurants popping up. That was kind of rambling… but my boyfriend and I have traveled a lot, my family lives in Charleston, SC, and we still say we want to stay in Rochester.

JW: Is there a place you haven’t yet been that you’d most like to visit?
New Zealand for at least a month (that’s the lottery plan).

JW: Lottery vacation planning is my favorite kind. I hope you’re buying tickets…What books are on your nightstand right now?
I have a kindle with a handful of books on it so that when I get bored with one I switch to another. I’m in the middle of Seriously, I’m Kidding (Ellen DeGeneres), Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls (David Sedaris), You: The Owner’s Manual (Dr. Mehmet Oz).

JW: There’s been a rash of kitten and puppy adoption amongst the Geva staff this summer. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I’m neither only because of my schedule. But if we got anything it would be a dog.

JW: What person from history most interests you?
Dorothy Parker (and probably others but we just taped out the floor so all I can think of is the person who invented spike tape…)

JW: What would we find in the backseat of your car?
A weird pair of gloves that I don’t know whose they are (anyone at Geva, if they are yours just let me know and I’ll drop them in your mailbox), a hanger, a Wegmans bag…

JW: The weird gloves are definitely not mine. Oh – and that answer from the beginning of the post? 14,000 work hours – for one production. Phew! I’m tired already…Stop by our lobby to see what goes into that number!


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