The cast of the 2013 production of Zorro.

Humans of the Alliance Theatre: Holland Baird

Holland Baird, Brand Marketing Manager

Without using the words in your job title, what do you do at the Alliance Theatre?
"To put our theatre programming in front of Atlanta audiences. Invite them in. It's my job to make sure our programming is appealing, inviting, sexy and fun, friendly, cute, sad, happy. It's my job to make sure that these people of Atlanta know that the Alliance is here and we want them to come see our shows. I don't want the first thing that comes to their mind for a night out is just dinner and drinks. Maybe it's dinner and a show. Or brunch and a reading. Or brunch and an acting class. Get people out of their element."

How did you get involved in theatre?
"It wasn't really by choice. It was kind of thrust upon me. It's the family business. It's my life. My mom was a high school theatre teacher and my dad was an actor on soaps in the 80s and 90s. They met in Savannah. And I grew up going to theatre, whether it was as an audience member or the kid standing in the wings watching a show or watching my mom choreograph a scene. Or hanging out in the scene shop helping paint. It's so funny—when I was a rebellious teenager, I got in this big spat with my mom and I said, 'I'm never going to end up like you. I'm never going to be in the theatre life. I'm not going to do this.' Lo and behold, I moved to Atlanta and it's where I wound up. But I have no regrets."

What's your first theatre-related memory?
"I guess it would be the sound of my mom warming up at the piano. Getting ready for her vocal lessons or getting ready to go on stage. Like Do, Re, Mi... And I hated hearing that. I'd wake up at six in the morning to the sound of her voice. But I look back at it now and I love those moments because they are so beautiful. Beautiful sounds."

What was the show that changed your life? 
"I grew up listening to all kinds of Broadway cast recordings. But my favorite had always been Ragtime. I never saw it on Broadway, but I loved Audra McDonald and her voice. So finally, a couple years ago, a theatre company I used to work for in Kansas City, the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, did a stage production of it. It was in a small 200-seat black box theatre in a old warehouse that had also been a makeshift Halloween haunted house. They used a rustic set with platforms that were built up like ladders. They staged an old 1800s shanty town in New York, kind of like the movie Gangs of New York. Seeing that show performed on a stage like that with the riots, the issues of African Americans and the family, and the aggressiveness of those times, it was eye-opening because it's still relevant. Seeing it in person after listening to it for years really made an impact on me. It's probably my favorite musical of all time.

What is your biggest struggle?
"
Staying engaged in arts and culture industry. Because it was something I grew up with and am still in, sometimes I'm mentally drained from it all. I will say, I don't see many shows at other theatres, which is why I'm so excited for this off-site season in these new performing arts spaces, because now I have no excuse. I may be there for our shows, but I  can also come back and see other things." 

How did you end up at the Alliance?
"
Well, I didn't plan on it. I moved down here from Kansas City five years ago. I actually wanted to get my start in the TV and film industry in Atlanta. I put my resume out there for all the industry website job listings and never got a bite because it was so competitive. I lived in Midtown and would often walk by this big white building every day. I wondered 'What is this big white building?' and then found out it was the Woodruff Arts Center. I remember checking it out online and finding the job page. I thought 'I'm actually qualified for a lot of these jobs. I'm just going to apply.' I got called in for an interview for the Alliance Theatre Marketing Coordinator position.  At the time I was already working two part-time jobs, so I was ready for something full-time. I didn't really want to go into theatre, and maybe at the time I wasn't planning on staying there for very long, but I really enjoyed working for a company that had so much structure and such a presence in the Atlanta community that was well-respected nationally. So I thought, 'I want to see where this goes.' Five years later, and I'm still loving it.

I have such a much greater appreciation for non-profits, especially performing arts centers. They are the like the 'kitchen of the city.' The kitchen is where you go when you talk about your day and you let loose, enjoying a glass of wine. You talk with your family. At the theatre, you have a dialogue with the action on stage, the person sitting next to you, the parking attendant. It's fluid and it's hospitable." 

What does the off-site season mean to you?
"It means a chance to get to know Atlanta better. Not only as an Atlanta resident, but as an audience patron. And vice-versa. I've lived here five years and I'll tell you I'll never been to the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, the Southwest Arts Center. I've never seen a show at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. There are people out there who have no idea that we exist, or if they do, they have this perspective we are 'stuffy' and 'untouchable.' But no, we want to be inviting and we want to get to know you."

A little known fact about yourself.
"Because I was a kid in a theatre family, I did all sorts of odd jobs. I worked the concession stand and the bar. I painted sets. I built sets. I took notes for directors. I've been a costume dresser. My favorite instance of being a dresser was when I was a junior in college and I was a dresser for a production of The Light in the Piazza. The show had really fast scene and costume changes. My claim to fame is that I know how to undress and dress a person in 30 seconds or less. Arm length gloves, hats, blouse, overcoat, pencil skirt, heels. I had to be calm and organized so my nerves didn't affect the actor's nerves. It was exhausting, but so much fun. My dates love it when I tell them this."

What is your hope for the future?
"For myself, I want to be happy. Motivation to succeed. For humanity, I wish for there to be more understanding, without disregard or hate."

Describe the best theatre-related project you've ever done. 
"During my first full season with the Alliance, we did The Geller Girls by the lovely Janece Shaffer. It was one of my favorite productions here. The setting was 1865 Atlanta during the World's Fair. Michael Winn and I did an awesome collaboration with the Atlanta History Center. We brought in a pop-up museum that had photos, maps, renderings of what the World's Fair looked like, as well as chachkies and cute takeaways from that fair. It was gorgeous. I just love Southern history. I really hated having to take it down when the show was over. It was a beast to put together, but it was so worth it.  A history museum paired with a performing arts theatre - two different kind of organizations on the spectrum, bringing history and art together."

What makes you feel fulfilled?
"A challenge. I need something to work on at all times. Give me a challenge. Give me something to make my brain work. Or my hands work. I think that's what keeps us alive, young and aware."

 

by A'riel Tinter, Brand Journalist

Blog

the-dancing-granny

We've officially hit summer here in Atlanta, and while temperatures are rising outside, we're staging the hottest dance party inside: The Dancing Granny. But with all there is to do this season, why should you grab the kids and come see the show?

A little known fact about the Alliance?
"We are the largest producing theatre in Georgia and if you break out our education department and its shows, that would be the second."

What is your hope for the future?
"For myself, I want to be happy. Motivation to succeed. For humanity, I wish for there to be more understanding, without disregard or hate."

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