What’s your “deal?”
MJ_MTAMy name is Mary Jean Sedlock. I am the Production Manager at TAM. I usually go by MJ. I grew up on an asparagus farm. My parents own 18 acres of asparagus and they started the farm in 1983. Other than three months that I spent in Italy, and the summer I spent here last year and this year, I have spent my entire life in Illinois. I did my undergraduate school and my graduate work there.

What is the biggest misconception about what you do? What do you wish people knew about your job?
I think the biggest misconception about my job is that it seems like a lot of paperwork, but it’s really a lot of “people” work. It’s a lot of getting out and talking to people, making sure they have what they need, anticipating what they might need, and trying to get those things ready.

I wish people knew that I do a lot of work with health and safety and writing policies for how we do things. Things like haze, or if we were to use a live gunfire and stuff like that. There are about 100 different agencies that regulate safety issues, whether it’s Actor’s Equity or OSHA. That’s something that I like, personally. I think it’s interesting to see how incidents have happened and how they have caused policy change in these larger organizations. I think one of the most rewarding parts of the job, for me, is the ability to be the person who gets to interpret and do all of those things. I create a safer, healthier, more efficient workplace for the entire organization.

What did you care about most when you were 10?
When I was 10 years old I cared the most about asparagus farming. I thought my family’s business was the coolest thing in the world. I remember when I was probably around that age, I had gone out into the field and I had picked what I thought were the 20 best asparagus spears in the whole field, the whole acreage. I brought them in the house and I said “Here, Mom. Cook these separately, these are the ones I want for dinner.” She said, “Okay!” Then my dad came home and he was like, “Well I think we’ll go to Pizza Hut tonight, I don’t really feel like cooking.” I bawled my eyes out because I just wanted to eat my 20 perfect asparagus spears. I didn’t want to go to Pizza Hut, which is probably not a typical 10-year-old response.

What was your first impression of TAM?
My first impression of TAM was “uh-oh.” I mean, the job was new to me and it’s a very demanding job at times. Especially at the very beginning when everyone’s trying to get started and everyone else who is new is looking for answers. I guess maybe my more important impression was my second impression, which was the overwhelming sense of community and support. There’s this feeling that—despite any challenges or setbacks or limitations, despite anything that anyone might be facing, everyone was committed to the goal of putting on the best possible show. Everyone’s willing to put a little bit of themselves, their own time, and their own heart into it.

What is one of your proudest achievements?
Right now I am sitting as a non-voting member on the Board of Directors for USITT, which is the United States Institute of Technical Theater. I applied for this position, which is the Board Mentorship program. It’s a very new program, in its third year, and this will be my second year being a part of it. I’ll be one of only four people who have ever had this opportunity. It’s been a really awesome experience and a really great way to connect with a lot of the leaders in technical theater industry, as well as a great way to learn about ways theater organizations work from the top, down rather than the bottom, up. I’ve done a lot of bottom up sort of work but not a lot of seeing how the Board of Directors negotiate the needs of such a diverse group of people. You know, you talk about different lighting, costumes, sets, and all kinds of different designers and technicians.  You manage all of those needs. Then, when you throw actors into the mix, it’s an interesting sort of challenge.

Describe yourself in 3 alliterating words.