Theater jobs: What is a Director of Production?

Director of Production Lauren Kurinskas with Queen Eleanor's dress from its current production of "The Lion In Winter" at the Two River Theater in Red Bank.
Director of Production Lauren Kurinskas with Queen Eleanor’s dress from its current production of “The Lion In Winter” at the Two River Theater in Red Bank.

Wonder what some of those titles in your theater program mean? Meet Lauren Kurinskas, Director of Production at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. No, she doesn’t direct the play, but she tells a lot of people behind the scenes what to do.

She joined the company in April 2012 as an Associate Production Manager and was promoted to her current job in October 2013. She handles all aspects of the shows staged by the professional theater company, which includes helping to create the season schedule and making sure each set is built on time; liaison between artistic and technical staff; oversee a staff of 23, plus find housing for visiting artists and facility rentals; running meetings and participating in long-term planning. Whew!

Learn more below in her own words:

Why did you choose this profession? Do you have a passion for theater?

I initially was interested in theater and decided to pursue it as my profession due to my passion for working with creative artists and storytellers. It truly takes a village to create a production.

What was your first play/musical and was that an “ah-ha” moment for you? If not, what was?

My first real “ah-ha” moment was a few years into my career, working on IN THE FOOTPRINT: The Battle Over Atlantic Yard, produced by the Civilians, a company that creates “investigative theater”.  This production focused on Brooklyn’s largest development in history by using interview transcripts from local residents and business owners. It was a powerful experience to help tell the story of a neighborhood affected by gentrification and eminent domain.

What kinds of shows do you prefer working on? New works vs. classics? Plays vs. musicals?

I enjoy working on any show with a strong story and high production value.

You earn a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Design/Technology from the State University of New York College at Purchase. Why did you choose to concentrate in stage management?

Stage management requires balancing many different demands and needs in real-time, while figuring out which ones take precedence.  I chose stage management as my concentration since it is a position in the theater that heavily interacts with people and is constantly figuring out puzzles.

What do you love most about your job?

Working with a phenomenal team of people is what I love most about my job. They are all dedicated professionals and artists who strive to put true stories and beautiful art onstage.

What drives you nuts about it?

Production management crosses the bridge between the administrative staff, artists, and technicians. This requires me to be available office hours, nights, and weekends which would make anyone a little nuts.

Why did you apply for a job at Two River? What attracted you to this non-profit theater?

I was encouraged to apply by the woman who was leaving the position. We had previously worked together at McCarter Theater Center. I was interested in making the shift from stage management, which is more freelance-based, into production management, where you work for an organization, rather than each individual show/director.

You were an intern stage manager at McCarter Theatre in Princeton before becoming an associate production manager here. What’s next? What’s your ultimate goal? 

I really feel like I’ve found a home in Red Bank and at Two River Theater in this role. We work to build and grow both the quality and diversity of the work we do here. Moving forward, I’d like to continue to affect positive change, nurture collaboration, and empower artists.

What advice would you offer to someone thinking about pursuing career in theater management?

Really think about the lifestyle you would like to have before you think about the job you would like to do. I am incredibly lucky to have found a position here at Two River that supports managing a balance between your work and your life. There are many other industries that pay better, have shorter hours, and use similar types of problem-solving and collaboration. You have to really love theater itself to commit to the industry.

You live and work in Red Bank. What do you like to do when not working?

When you work in a dark theater most days, it is nice to be outside during your time off. I enjoy the beach, gardening, going to the farmer’s market as well as spending time at the Red Bank YMCA and reading.

By Gretchen C. Van Benthuysen

Director of Production Lauren Kurinskas (standing) at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. Part of her job is making sure the costume shop runs smoothly and on time.
Director of Production Lauren Kurinskas (standing) at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. Part of her job is making sure the costume shop runs smoothly and on time.

LION IN WINTER: Ticket prices range from $40 to $70, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $20 tickets are available for every performance for partial view. Also, $20 for people age 30 and younger include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets are available from or 732.345.1400.