Meet the Owner - Woolly Mammothposted Friday, July 22 by Andrew Moreno
Business name: Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Owner/Contact: Howard Shalwitz, Artistic Director / Jeffrey Herrmann, Managing Director
Best number and time to be reached: M – F 10am – 6pm 202-312-5260
How long have you been a business owner?
Technically, as we’re a not-for-profit, I’m not an owner. But I’ve been managing performing arts organizations for nearly 15 years.
How did you get into this business?
Like most arts administrators, I started out as a performer. I acted when I was younger but soon I got much more interested in what was happening backstage with the lights and sets. Then I got interested in how the money works.
What did you do in a previous life? What was your first job ever?
My first job was as a stock clerk for Brooks Drugs in West Hartford, CT.
Is this your first entrepreneurial experience? Did you always want to be your own boss?
Before coming to Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, I ran Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska and, before that, the Albany Berkshire Ballet in Pittsfield, MA. I don’t know that I always wanted to be my own boss…but now I can’t ever imagine working for someone else.
Why should customers choose you? What makes your business different from you competition?
Woolly distinguishes itself from the competition through our artistic work, which is focused exclusively on new plays that are genuinely trying to push the art form forward through experimentation with language, style, or content.
The best part of doing business in DC is our audience—DC is a city filled with articulate, adventurous, and super-smart people who bring a real intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness with them to the theatre. This makes it such a pleasure to produce the kind of work we’re dedicated to.
Give me a glimpse into what a normal day looks like for you? Probably not all that different from everyone else’s—lots of meetings, emails, and phone calls. The best days are the ones where I get to actually interact with our artists.
What gets you up in the morning?
Our new dog—a 9-month-old, wire-haired dachshund named Jack!
What business experience have you learned most from?
Strangely enough, letting people go. This is the hardest thing about management…and that’s probably why it is the most instructive.
Funniest moment as a business owner?
Explaining to the Board our vast expenditure on sex toys for a production of MEASURE FOR PLEASURE a few seasons ago.
What is one thing your employees/customers would love to know about you?
I was in attendance the night Milli Vanilli was unmasked.
If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
I’d be everyone’s favorite high school English teacher.
What are you doing when you are not working?
I work a lot so I’m kind of a homebody when I have time to myself. I like to read, catch up on the programs taped by my TiVO, and spend time with my wife and our dog.
Favorite local spots in DC? I live in Columbia Heights, so I like going to The Heights and Wonderland. Walking the dog in Meridian Hill Park. I also love going down to the ballpark.
Why should a DC resident support local businesses?
Local businesses make a community local.
What are your upcoming events?
We are remounting our March 2010 production of CLYBOURNE PARK this summer from July 21 – August 14. Since our original production last spring, CLYBOURNE PARK received the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2011 Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Resident Play and Outstanding Director.