By Daisy Gould
On a Thursday afternoon in mid-March, I was sitting in a windowless office in the back of Dad’s Garage Theatre, making a crown of bacon. Or, I was trying to make a crown of bacon, and struggling superbly at it. Bacon, surprisingly, is an extremely difficult medium to work with because of both it’s inherent tendency for floppiness and extreme greasiness. I eventually gave up on making a free standing bacon crown and settled instead of gluing strips of bacon onto a pre existing crown, creating bacon turrets.
While I would like to say that this is a task I regularly perform, it was all for BaconFest, the annual fundraiser at Dad’s Garage. And I, as the communications intern at Dad’s, somehow got gifted the task of the creating the crown. In reality, a crown out of bacon wasn’t essential at all to the success of the fundraiser, it is just details like that that make Dad’s Garage, well, Dad’s Garage.
But let me backup.While it’s highly unusual for anyone to ever make a crown out of bacon, it’s even more unusual for a high school senior such as myself to have an internship twice a week in the middle of the day. Unless, of course, you go the New School (yes, that is its name. No, it isn’t going to change once the school is old), an experiential hands-on learning high school that focuses on out of classroom education. As seniors at the New School we participated in out of school internships that focused on an area that we might be interested in studying. The school’s goal was to have students working in the real world in an environment where something we studied is actually part of the everyday work life. The previous semester I had worked at a marketing agency. This semester, I wanted something with words, because I liked them. I had done a high school improv program as a junior through Dad’s Garage, so I thought of them.
Dad’s Garage does a ton of cool work. They do outreach programs in high schools, like the one I did, introducing kids early on to the wonders of improv. They work tirelessly to make theatre— traditionally seen as a special night out for upper middle class people only— affordable and accessible to everyone. More than that, Dad’s Garage makes people laugh. They produce numerous improv and scripted comedy shows, and are often targeted at creating a voice for social change in a way that is approachable and, most importantly, funny.
That’s quite a tall order, and in order to be successful they’ve got to have some pretty talented people working on the actual business that is Dad’s Garage. That’s what happens during the day, at night they’re a laughing madhouse, but during the day, buried in the back of their restored church, sh*t gets done.
I have to say, I was a bit shocked when I realized how organized the staff at Dad’s Garage are. I expected it to be a place where people just wrote new shows and ate grapes. And while there is plenty of show ideating and fruit consuming, Dad’s Garage is a high functioning office with, like, chairs and agendas.
It’s the little things that stood out to me. Forget that their data storage system is called Fortinbras (a tip of the hat to the army of Fortinbras in Hamlet… which just shows off their inner nerd) the fact that they have a data storing system with miles deep of folders and sub folders and sub sub folders that impressed me. Never mind that searching for a file was like swimming down the Mariana Trench, it was so nice to have an organized system.
Another thing that shocked me a bit was their weekly meeting. Every Tuesday for an hour all of the staff gather to discuss what has been going on at Dad’s that week. Again, I expected pontification and excessive eating. But every week they create an agenda that is, like, formatted well. What that means to me is that Dad’s is putting the time in to organize their thoughts so that the group can be as productive as possible. I really like that. It shows how much they care.
Everyone at Dad’s Garage is extremely creative, even if they are in the back office and not on stage. I think one of the reasons they do so well is that all of these brilliant artists have other skills: marketing, management, writing, media relations, etc. This strikes me as vital to a thriving arts organization—the ability to do perform all the everyday business tasks of a nonprofit, while also bringing a touch of creativity to the work. For Dad’s Garage in particular, there is an edginess—that’s both funny and cutting edge—that underscores everything. You see it in their press releases, in their meeting agendas, and even in the dial-through phone messages when you call Dad’s. This is something any arts organization, or any business should consider: How do you make even the most mundane task joyful, and reflective of the values of your company? At Dad’s, it comes naturally.
I know that I should close out this with some deep reflection on my time at Dad’s: the skills I’ve learned, connections I’ve made and insights I’ve gained about myself. And all of those things have happened, but it would get kind of sappy and boring. So I’ll end with this: Dad’s Garage is a really cool, really organized group of hard working, talented, creative individuals. And, for a short time, I was so grateful to be part of their team. Check them out. Go see some of their shows. I think you’ll see that I’m telling the truth.