Q&A With 2017 Producer, Christopher Walkup
As our faithful producer of four years (five productions), Mattia D’Affuso, aged out this past summer, we wondered who would come to fill those fine Italian loafers. That’s when Christopher Walkup, a man known for his good humor and strong political advocacy, stepped off our stage and became our new producer. Well, not entirely – Chris spent the last summer training under Mattia as Associate Producer in preparation to take over the role once Mattia stepped down. We recently interviewed Chris about his view on his new role and the upcoming season.
Q: What prompted you to transition from actor to producer?
A: I love acting; I am concentrating in performance in my undergraduate theatre major. However, I am not aiming to go into a professional career in theatre, but I do want to work in government or non-profit management. Wildwood is a learning theatre and I wanted to learn more about managing a non-profit, working with a board of directors, and fundraising.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from being a producer and running a company?
A: I’ve learned how important delegating is. When you are leading a company, a club, any entity, it can be tempting to try to do all the work to make sure it is done to perfection. However, I literally can’t direct, design, staff, etc. all the shows, I have had to hire people (who are much better than I am at directing, designing, and staffing) to do that work. I learned the importance of assigning and delegating work, and the importance of trusting people that I am working with.
Q: How do you pick the shows presented to the board?
A: After watching and acting in plays for years and years, I think I have a decent grasp of what actors, musicians, designers, and technicians like to work on and what audiences like to see. With that in mind, I wanted to create a season that has a wide range of options for anyone who wanted to get involved in the theatre process. Put simply, I picked shows that I thought people would like to be involved in, people would want to see, and would fit with the age range of our company.
Q: Do you want to do producing as a career?
A: I am planning on going into international development work, serving the world and all that. While that means that I won’t be producing as a career, I expect many of the skills I’ve gained over my tenure as producer (time management skills, people managing skills, team managing skills, etc.) will translate well to my planned professional career.
Q: What is your favorite Mattia moment?
A: I remember when Mattia posted a glamour shot on Facebook and we changed that to the cover photo for our Wildwood Summer Theatre board Facebook group. A simple memory, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Q: What things do you want to achieve during your time as producer for the company?
A: I believe our company’s biggest weakness is the fact that actors, designers, directors and technicians have the opportunity to work with Wildwood for 3 amazing months during the summer but have no opportunity to work with us over the fall, winter, or spring. We put on fantastic productions during the summer… and only the summer. Something that I would love to achieve is the establishment of a annual spring cabaret or showcase. Based on the structure (and the name) of our company, staging large performances during the off season is not realistic, but I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t assemble a group of performers for a smaller production during the off season that keeps company members and potential viewers invested in Wildwood.