By Jeremy Craig
For Jon Carr, performing with Atlanta’s Dad’s Garage Theatre Company is akin to bungee jumping, an adrenaline rush.
About 10 seconds before he goes on stage, he has a realization.
“I have to stand in front of people for an hour and a half, and I have zero clue of what’s going to come out of my mouth,” he said, “but it has to be funny and it has to be interesting.”
Carr was a stranger to Atlanta and was having trouble fitting in and making friends. He discovered Dad’s Garage, took classes, joined the cast and now serves as the organization’s marketing director.
“The company is about to expand and grow,” he said. “I’m just working to put myself in a position to be a very effective marketing director for them.”
When the previous marketing director of Dad’s Garage left after 10 years with the company, there were some big shoes to fill, and Carr, a Georgia State marketing major, found himself looking to make an impact.
Carr finds himself as Dad’s Garage’s marketing director at a time when the fun, off-the-wall enterprise is finding a new home. Gentrification pushed them out of their old Inman Park headquarters when the building was torn down to build new apartments near the Atlanta Beltline.
“By far, this is the biggest project the organization has ever faced and will ever face, without a doubt,” said Kevin Gillese, the artistic director of Dad’s Garage. “Everything we do will be hugely impacted by this transition.
“Since what we’re moving into is a permanent solution, we have to make sure we’re very careful about making smart choices now because of any implications years down the road.”
Carr put himself into the running for the marketing director position. While he had a leg up because of his intimate understanding of the organization as a performer, he had to stand out just like any other candidate.
“We had such a big search that those things were not going to just float him through by any means,” Gillese said.
But Carr revealed a competency in thinking about the business side of performance that impressed Gillese and his colleagues.
“Doing the interview rounds we saw a side of him we never saw before,” Gillese said. “He was so thoughtful and intentional with everything he was bringing to the table, and we realized that we had hit a home run with him.”
Carr’s got some heavy lifting to do to keep hitting home runs.
There’s the massive fundraising required to secure a new, permanent home.
There’s the transition into the new home, a church building in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
And then there’s the huge task of making sure Atlanta residents realize that Dad’s Garage hasn’t disappeared.
“We’ve been at 7 Stages Theatre for about a year and a half, and I still have people coming up to me saying, ‘Oh, I heard your theater closed down,’” Carr said. “And I say, ‘No, we didn’t close, we just moved.’”
That’s part of the business of theater. And it’s the business side of theater and performance, the nitty-gritty, he said, that will help keep the humor and live performance going and growing.
“For me, it’s about taking this degree and using that to promote Dad’s Garage as a theater, but also Atlanta as a great city,” he said, “being part of what creates the next great renaissance in Atlanta.”
Photos by Steven Thackston.