Cory Dunn is the Production Manager at Gulfshore Playhouse.
Over the past three seasons, it has been my privilege to help serve the Naples community as Production Manager for Gulfshore Playhouse. In my time here, we have presented three world premieres (and two New Works Festivals!), a vibrant musical, and countless plays that made our audiences laugh, cry, and think. I had the opportunity to work with Tony nominees, guest artists who have worked professionally across the globe, staff members with whom I have created lifelong bonds with, and extremely talented interns who gave me hope for the future of our industry. I’ve even had the opportunity to follow my passion for directing thanks to Kristen graciously allowing me to be Assistant Director on four of our seasonal productions.
There are so many reasons to celebrate Gulfshore Playhouse as it enters its fourteenth year, but the thing that really makes this theatre company so special is its innate atmosphere of collaboration and togetherness. No department is an island; we all work together to create the highest quality productions and are available to help each other when it is needed. There is no doubt in my mind that if we needed an extra hand painting a set for a production and we didn’t have one to spare, Kristen would pick one up and contribute herself (and she has done that before, too!). This is not an environment where people are made to be wrong or feel foolish for a mistake – we analyze what is not working and press forward to create a solution so that it does not happen again. There is room for growth and learning here, an opportunity that is not afforded in most workplaces. At Gulfshore Playhouse, the standard mode of operation comes from a sense of kindness.
I have learned so many things throughout my time as Production Manager as well! I’ve learned that you never get what you don’t ask for. I’ve learned that being a manager is more about listening than being listened to. I’ve learned that bringing positivity to the table can be a game-changer and that letting personal issues (even the little ones) take priority can be a downfall. But, perhaps most importantly, I have learned that one is never really finished learning and that thinking otherwise can limit your perspective and your options in life.
In essence, Gulfshore Playhouse is a rarity, and it has been my utmost pleasure to be a part of it. However, the time has come for me to pursue my passion for directing full-time, and unfortunately, that means my time with Gulfshore Playhouse as Production Manager has come to a close.
I have truly cherished all of the wonderful people and artists I have worked with here. Starting as Assistant Production Manager straight out of Florida State University and being promoted to Production Manager within my first two months in Naples, I needed a lot of help and guidance. I could not have contributed to Gulfshore Playhouse in the ways that I have without the support of my production department heads, and especially our Technical Director Alex K and our Costume Shop Manager Jennifer Bronsted, both of whom were willing to follow my lead and also were willing to let me know when I needed to be led. The designers, directors, and actors I met taught me so much about the industry and gave me guidance on how to grow our productions and our team. The administrative staff has always been incredibly patient and flexible with our changing needs as we continued to expand our production team. But most of all, I could not have achieved anything without the endless support, wisdom, kindness, patience, and pep-talks from Gulfshore Playhouse’s phenomenal Producing Artistic Director, Kristen Coury. Without her, I would not have the opportunities that are now in front of me, and I am forever grateful. It is my hope that my personal journey of growth and learning as a director will lead me back to this organization as it heads into its bright future. So, to steal from the awful cliché, I would like to consider this a “see you later” rather than goodbye as Gulfshore Playhouse has become another home for me.
You will be missed, Cory! Thank you for contributing so much. One must let go to grow; so, with gratitude, I wish you success in your career journey, and trust we’ll see you in our midst again.