There is no such thing as a typical day at work for a theatre manager, and Céline Delcayre—general manager at the Playwrights Realm in New York City—is no typical theatre manager either. Raised in New Zealand by a Filipino mother and a French father, Delcayre moved to the U.S. “not really knowing who on earth I was,” which may be why she found in theatre, perhaps unconsciously, an affinity with offbeat characters and their desire to tell their stories.
She recalls two formative experiences: playing Mrs. Antrobus in a high school production of The Skin of Our Teeth (“I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like as a parent to come to that production,” she remembers, laughing), and dramaturging Mac Wellman’s Bad Penny at Bow Bridge when she was an undergrad at Sonoma State University in California studying business administration and theatre. Though that experience left her with more questions than answers, it led her to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, followed by a season as literary associate at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.
Suddenly the West Coast-based Delcayre felt the pull of New York. The attraction was apparently mutual, as a fellowship in general management and dramaturgy opened up at the Lark. Anna Kull, the Lark’s director of communications, recalls Decayre as “diligent, inquisitive, meticulous, and thoughtful,” likening her to a combination of the Baker’s Wife from Into the Woods and “Jane the Virgin.”
At the new-play-focused Playwrights Realm, Delcayre works in line production and office management, and recently became involved with the company’s financial management. Her background in both theatre and administration allows her to build a bridge between both worlds, she explains—something she thinks is essential for all theatre workers.
“I’m not saying artists should learn QuickBooks or that admins should take acting classes, but in theatre it’s important to find that common language, because we’re all ultimately creating the work together,” she says.
Playwrights Realm producing director Robert Pereira, whom Delcayre considers a mentor, calls Delcayre “the definition of grace under pressure,” citing her work during a production of The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias when an injured actor injured had to be replaced quickly. “Céline handled everything masterfully,” Pereira says.
Delcayre explains her approach to stressful situations. “When the worst thing happens,” she reasons, “usually the worst has already happened. There’s nothing you can do to change that, so I think, what’s the next step we can take in the right direction?”
Though she doubts she’ll see her exact experience onstage, as a “Filipino-French person raised outside of this country,” she dreams of a theatre where everyone is able to share their stories and, like her, “see echoes of my story in other people. I hope the next generation of administrative hopefuls will see echoes of themselves in my story.”