Brant Underwood likes to spend his mornings on his feet. Strolling the floor on calls. Hopping from room to room to open up conversation. He is new to Theatre Projects but has been quick to fit in at our energetic New York office.
“Viewing industry consultants from the outside, I always knew TP was at the top of my list if I ever made the leap,” shares Brant, Theatre Projects’ newest associate principal.
Brant joins us from the world of fabrication, automation, technical direction, visual arts, scenic construction, and experiential design, where he held a broad resume, moving from union stagehand at various New York venues to lead project manager at Hudson Scenic Studios in a relatively short period of time (and with ample detours along the way). Working with us attaches him to the same communities and opportunities, but with an even broader impact.
And Brant has planned his shift at an exciting time. Since the start of our general manager Daniel Ordower’s tenure five years ago, we have been vocal about rethinking our brand and services. Adding artistic programming and booking services, US strategic planning services, expanded AV services, a New York office, a Denver office, and—now—technical direction and experience design/build services, we have opened the doors for new voices, like Brant’s, in the consulting industry.
“Brant and I have a long history together. We started in the New York theater scene, assembling the tools we now share with clients at Theatre Projects. We spent time in the creative fires of modern dance. We forged a client services focus in the crucible of experiential marketing. And through it all, Brant remains one of the most intelligent, egoless, solution-oriented, and technically creative people I have ever met,” offers Daniel. “I know his philosophy matches that of the reenergized Theater Projects brand. Every day, we provide our partners with practical, innovative solutions to their goals, and Brant knows that success—creating positive solutions for clients—comes from truly listening. He is a consummate collaborator and an asset to our clients and growing suite of services.”
Officially, the new department Brant spearheads is “the Lab.” That encompasses environmental projects ranging from temporary activations to permanent art and architectural features. Most critically, however, it offers a resource to bridge the gap between concept and creation for clients, a cozy niche in an industry largely split between big-thinkers and fabricators.
“I love to collaborate and design engineering solutions. And I’m interested in projects and partnerships that delight a diverse range of end-users,” notes Brant. “Mostly, I love imagination brought to life. Non-traditional projects that make people say, ‘Wow, how did they do that?’ Making unique connections for clients and always being there with a solution when needed.”
While he shies away from buzzwords like “experiential” or “immersive,” Brant acknowledges that rethinking the constraints of the venue—whether amphitheatre or office space—is necessary to engage 21st century guests. He believes that intimacy, story, accessibility—long-standing pillars of Theatre Projects design—all hold true, but so too does imagination. Ingenuity. A steady stream of captivating moments. Spectacle. Brant believes in spaces that envelop the audience and engage all of their senses.
“Since I was a kid, I always loved building things. To participate in the process of making. Plus, I’m a big outdoors guy. I love the way nature activates your mind and your senses. For me, nature is the original ‘immersive experience,’ and I think most people are interested in these foundational types of things: togetherness and adventure. We should all be offering those in our venues,” expands Brant. “Our industry has to start thinking holistically. We’re here to spark interaction, to make something lasting, and—ultimately—to change lives.”
At the end of each day, Brant still seems activated, as wide-eyed and attentive as when he walked in the door that morning. He is a very present person, clearly someone as comfortable at a band saw as in a boardroom. Across the coming months and its continued expansion, we look forward to learning from Brant’s experience and folding his energy into our increasingly diverse project and service landscape.