Gig&Tell: The Barn Theatre

  • Know What You're Getting Into    
    09/07/2017  5:20pm

    The Barn is difficult work. They warn you that you'll work like crazy, and don't take that lightly. You end up working around 16 hours a day for about $1.60 an hour. They try to give you every other Monday off and you will spend most of them napping all day, drinking Throat Coat, and catching up on shows you haven't been able to watch all summer.

    Your meal breaks are not meal breaks. Lunchtime is spent rehearsing for the Bar Show at night, and there's plenty of times they don't check the schedule to make sure someone isn't booked all of that break. About once every two weeks you will have to work in the box office during lunch and dinner break. You also will have to go into the box office for at least two of the days off to do shifts as well. Honestly working in the box office isn't that bad, it's just that you're going to want to nap and you won't be able to. Strike nights are also crazy long.

    Brendan and Penelope can be great, if they like you, but they have one thing in mind only: their business and their money. You don't get sick days, no matter what. If you have bronchitis or strep throat, you're still going on every single night and working all day. They have their favorites, but what theatre doesn't. They'll say they care about you, and maybe that's true, but the way they talk to the non-equity actors is enough on it's own to know they consider you campers at a camp more than workers they respect. There's a lot of intimidation that happens there. Yes, you get EMC points! But they won't start the paperwork until around August, and they don't send in the paperwork until after your contract is over. So you don't become EMC for a while. They also slide around a lot of the Equity rules, just be warned.

    You will do lots of cleaning every day- cleaning toilets and Brendan's office and picking up cigarette butts outside- so make sure you wash your hands. Even if the cleaning is all done, they won't let you leave early at all.

    There are definitely good things about The Barn, don't get me wrong! You're going to walk away with at least 5 shows on your resume...you most likely won't get to be in all 6 or 7. Most of those credits will be ensemble your first year, which is fine, but often times they do ensemble shows and don't use them to the extent they could be. But the theatre is beautiful and after a long, frustrating, and exhausting day being up there with the lights shining on the stage is a wonderful feeling.

    Working in The Rehearsal Shed on wait/bar staff is really nice because the patrons are great and tip pretty well. Tipping is honestly pretty necessary to surviving financially there. It's also nice because you get some bartending/waiting experience. The patrons are one of the best parts about The Barn. They make an effort to talk to you, take pictures, and often cook for the cast and buy you drinks. You also will meet some of the best people you'll ever work with, and will get unbelievable close to and comfortable with them.

    Essentially this post is just to warn people for what they're about to get into. For some people, it's absolutely incredible. For others, it's awful. It's just not the right place for everyone, that's all. There's ups and downs to this theatre, like every theatre, but most of the ups in my experience simply have to do with getting to perform, which you can do elsewhere. I just recommend anyone who is thinking about going to know exactly what they're getting into.

  • What are you made of?    
    03/11/2014  2:24pm

    Basically, The Barn Theatre shows you what you are made of. It is the most work you will ever do, and you do it for very little pay and very minimal hours/days off. That being said, it is good work, it is an incredible learning experience, and you come out stronger, smarter, more skilled, and feeling like you can take on ANYTHING. Four months of intensive labor will show you what you're like at your very worst, but your very best will shine as well. You make lasting friendships, you come out with six shows on your resume, and you end up with a few more 'special skills.' It's the kind of job I think everyone should have at least once, especially right out of college.

    The Augusta community is incredible and supportive. They bring food to the company all the time, the same families show up at the theatre for every show, and, for some of them, the summer stock season is the highlight of their year.

    There are also some really wonderful places to eat/drink, especially in Kalamazoo, which is about 20-30 minutes away.

    All-in-all, it is a major, major challenge, but, if you're strong enough, it is worth it.

    Does anyone have any current information on experience at The Barn that they would like to share - good or bad?

    03/20/2017  8:17pm

    a close friend of mine worked here last year. said it was slave labor.

    05/04/2017  11:08pm
  • The worst    
    10/15/2013  11:28pm

    This is the job I look back on and say "well I did the barn and nothing could ever be worse than that".

    I worked there 7 years ago. That statement still holds true. Horrendously unprofessional. Starvation pay and they act is you are lucky to make your 140 a week (and they charge you rent! And charge you for the "curtesy" of having a washer and dryer to use).

    If working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week to build sets and costumes but not be performing in or on them, the barn is for you.

    But hey, I learned how to weld that summer! Good for my career no doubt. I'm sure Brendan and Penelope would think so.

    Never. Never. Never go there. Literally the worst.

    Hey listen. The Barn Theatre is alot of work. You do bust your ass when you are there. But the one thing I will give them respect on is they warn you of it. There are some aspects I wish they would change but in the world that is Augusta Michigan it seems to work so if it aint broke why fix it ya know. The Barn has a nationally known reputation of working the hell out of their actors but at the end of the day you honestly (I feel) can deal with anything in this business if you can survive a summer at The Barn. Not to mention they always have 2nd and 3rd year apprentices and some very talented apprentices go on to become apart of their Equity Company. Some names I can think of are Kevin White, Patrick Hunter etc so there are some people who do like it there and keep coming back. At the end of the day The Barn is an 'acquired taste'. Its all about doing your homework. ALWAYS know what you are getting yourself into, even if you are non eq and if it doesnt feel like something for you then decline. I havent spoke to Penelope or Brendan in years but I dont feel they would hold that against you.

    10/16/2013  8:37pm

    ^both of those actors only continue working there because they don't audition anywhere else (and they're both a little crazy, truth be told). The barn was slave labor. Penelope and Brendan are insane bullies who are just using their apprentice's desire to obtain to equity status to their fullest advantage. Your time will not be valued and no one who matters even knows what the barn is, so unless it's a good role, the credits are useless. NEVER TAKE A JOB HERE

    11/21/2013  5:43pm

    WORST JOB EVER. Slave labor.
    Working here proved that even after dealing with this hellhole, I still love theatre and performing. So thanks for the abuse! Do yourself a favor and RUN AWAY from this place. Gross.

    01/14/2014  11:00am

    Absolutely agree. Would advise against to anyone interested.

    03/07/2017  12:31pm

    yeah don't take a job here. really not worth all of the tears

    03/08/2017  4:01pm

    Does anyone have any current information on working here? Good or bad? Anyone who was there in 2016?

    03/21/2017  7:05am