In early 2020, now-retired Education Dramaturg Ted Sod spoke with Katharine Croke about her work at Roundabout Theatre Company. Croke edited her responses in early 2022.
TED SOD: Tell us about yourself. Where were you born and educated? How and when did you become the Director of Administration at Roundabout Theatre Company?
KATHARINE CROKE: I grew up and went to college in the Philadelphia area. I started stage managing in school, but after I was diagnosed with narcolepsy I transitioned into producing and other management roles where my medical condition would be less of a liability. (I have repeatedly fallen asleep while calling a show—not a good quality for a stage manager!) I started my career in NYC in a Broadway general management office, later spent a season on tour, and was a company manager Off-Broadway before joining Roundabout in 2011 as the Assistant Managing Director. I was promoted to Manager of Administration in 2016, and then to Director of Administration in 2021.
TS: Describe your job at RTC? What are your responsibilities?
KC: I administer our union agreements and negotiate contracts for playwrights and directors, among other duties. I support our Chief Administrative Officer and the rest of the general management team.
TS: What is the best part of your job? What is the hardest part?
KC: I really enjoy creating process and order, and the broad scope and cyclical nature of our programming create opportunities to do this. Many of the challenges we run into end up repeating themselves, so we have the opportunity (and the obligation!) to learn from our mistakes and build new systems to make things better in the future.
The hardest part of the job is the prioritization. We never have enough time or manpower to do everything we want to, so we end up doing a lot of triage. I find it incredibly frustrating to have to prioritize urgent matters over more important but less-timely concerns; unfortunately, there’s no way around this when you’re working with limited resources.
TS: Why do you choose to work at Roundabout?
KC: I really like the culture here. There is a focus on taking care of our people that I think is typical of the theatre, combined with organizational structure and support that comes from being a major arts institution. The work atmosphere is very different from what I experienced earlier in my career in the “for-profit” theatre world, where every show is basically its own little start-up struggling to make a profit. I'm also incredibly lucky to have a position that provides a regular paycheck, benefits, and a flexible schedule where I can work around my responsibilities as a parent. This is not common in our industry, where a lot of work tends to be freelance, transient, and tied to the evening/weekend hours of the performance schedule. So to have this kind of support and stability along with fulfilling work and coworkers I legitimately enjoy spending time with—I feel a bit like I hit the employment jackpot with this position at Roundabout.