Welcome to Ask an Admin, a series in which we talk with theatre administrators working in Minnesota to learn about their backgrounds, their jobs, and what snacks they keep in their desks.

Catherine Campbell

Production Manager at Mixed Blood Theatre

Tell us a little about yourself and your path to your current position (schooling, training, past work/life experience, mentors, etc.).

Currently, I am the Production Manager at Mixed Blood Theatre Company in the Twin Cities, as well as the Company Manager for Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing and Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, Public Programming Festivals. Prior to these, I was with Columbia University as a Production Manager, the Public Theater as a Mobile Unit Company Manager, and at the Hollywood Bowl as a Producer’s Assistant. Additionally, I interned across the country in beautiful institutions like Wolf Trap and Center Theatre Group that hold a special place in my heart and allowed me to grow, explore, and connect like no other. I grew up in Southern California in a town called Ontario (not Canada), where I earned my Bachelors at Cal Poly Pomona! West Coast, Best Coast!


What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a chef or a baker. I dreamed of having my own show on Food Network or even having a restaurant in some capacity. I use to bake cakes and cookies nonstop for everyone’s birthday, as well as create odd-end recipes. I remember the first thing I baked was carrot cake!


What’s the best part of your job?

Each day presents new, fun challenges. Seeing artist innovation is thrilling, and seeing the engagement, delight, and amazement from an audience during a performance makes all the work worthwhile. Mixed Blood is magnificent because it vocalizes the truth and brings people together by producing work that reflects the human experience. Mixed Blood models democratic discourse, contributes to education and literacy, sparks economic revitalization, and influences how we think and feel about our own lives. Additionally, the community of Minneapolis is one of the most collaborative and welcoming artistic forces I have experienced. With company management, I would say the best part is knowing that you are making and impacting a single person’s experience or hundreds of individual experiences better from the moment they walk in to the moment they leave and beyond.


When did you know you wanted to work in theatre/the arts?

The Home Economics/Cooking Elective got cancelled the year I was entering high school, as the building never finished being built. My best friend had asked me to do theatre and I thought. “No. Way.” However, she took me to a show called 30/60 based on a show in NYC and Chicago called Neofuturists: Too Much Light Makes a Baby Go Blind. The show is a comedic and insane cast of 6-10 people running around and racing against the clock to present 30 skits in 60 minutes. All I thought sitting in that theatre was, “I need to be in that show”…and here we are!


What has surprised you most about your work/working in theatre/the arts?

How small of a world it is! How everyone, every piece, and everything is interconnected in some way. From LA to NYC to Minneapolis and beyond. It is crazy small! How theatre and the arts allow us to vocalize things in a deep, positive, and impactful way that we could never do in other realms of the world.


Who gave you the best advice you’ve ever received, and what was that advice?

I do not want to say, as I have so many mentors, inspirations, and more that have given me so much support and wisdom that I am extremely grateful for. However, this was posted in their office and now it is posted in mine “Lead with Kindness. Lead with Compassion. Lead with Patience. Lead with Grace. Model the Behavior you wish to see. Listen to Understand, Not to Debate, Rebuff, One Up, Dismiss, Demean, or Joke. Be Yourself and Believe.”


What’s the best/your favorite production you’ve seen in the Twin Cities in the last year?

Mixed Blood! Just teasing. I will say each Mixed Blood production holds a special place in my heart, but one that impacted me in a great way was the first production and last one I saw in the Twin Cities, which was Pillsbury House’s Almost Equal To and Penumbra’s This Bitter Earth.


You’re stuck on a desert island. Which three theatre-makers would you want to be stuck with (living or dead)?

I am going to cheat and do beyond famous ones. Ha! Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.


What advice would you give to someone who wanted to work in arts administration/your position?

Don’t give up. Keep striving for the goal. Challenge yourself to discover other roles within theatre. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and sleeping (seriously). Always show up early, as on time is late. Send thank-you notes. Learn to say No…(I cannot do that yet!) Know your limits. Think outside the box. Make connections with mentors and inspirations and keep reading, seeing, and interacting with theatre! Keep dreaming and creating until your last second!


Do you keep snacks in your desk/work area? What are they?

I have snacks everywhere all the time for me and the whole world. Feeding people is a specialty of mine. Ha! I would say I am a fruitaholic and definitely love hummus, vegetables, and pretzels! Oooh! And gum!