Five Questions for: Caleb Hammons
Title/Occupation: Producing Director
Organization/Company: Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I grew up in a small town (population: 3,000) at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky. Somehow I ended up at NYU/Tisch’s Experimental Theater Wing. When I moved to NYC I thought STOMP was experimental theater.
2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
CHURCH by Young Jean Lee at PS122 in 2007. I’m not saying that just because she is now my employer. Personally and emotionally, it did things to me that theater had never done before. I had been bummed about the work I had been seeing for a while and seeing that show gave a good boost to my theatrical spirit. Also, the first time I saw Taylor Mac play in Tompkins Square. I had just moved here from Kentucky, in total culture shock, but something about him made me feel like I was in the right place.
3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
I wish I could play a musical instrument. I’ve attempted three. Succeeded at none.
4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.
I’m lucky that I make my living doing what I love – producing and facilitating the work of theater artists I believe in and admire. With YJLTC there’s no real typical day. We’re a small company in terms of human and monetary resources, but have an incredibly busy touring schedule on top of our activities related to developing and premiering new works. This means juggling lots of responsibility. My job as producer is to make sure the artist doesn’t have to worry about anything but the artistic work. That rarely happens, but I try!
5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome? Yes, sort of.
I had an office 9-5 with a decent salary and excellent benefits, then I would work another 20 hours or so a week on my theater projects. When the opportunity to work full-time for Young Jean came about, I quit my office job and went to work for her. It was a pay cut, but I’m much happier. I know I’m fortunate that I can pay my bills by doing the job I want to be doing.