Bachelor of Arts (Hons.), Theatre, 2008
I like creating a well-oiled machine that just works.
Shani Hamilton Greenlaw watched as the clouds rolled in and the rain began. It was a sweltering 42 degrees. She saw the lightning flashing on the horizon. The temporary bleachers, where more than twelve thousand people would soon be sitting, were made of metal.
“There were some tense moments during those first hours,” Shani says. “It was pretty nerve-wracking.”
Shani was project & operations supervisor for a huge project – building a regulation baseball diamond, with stands and clubhouses, on an active military base for a one off regular season Major League Baseball (MLB) game.
“I was supervising everything from the catering, to every stick of furniture including the trainer’s massage tables, and ensuring proper waste management.”
The company Shani works for, BaAM Productions, got the contract to organize the creation of this unique park. MLB wanted to hold a game at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on the July 4th, 2016 weekend to celebrate the American military. It was a first. It was more than ten months in the making. That storm was threatening it all.
“But we just held out a lot of hope,” she says. “The rain ended at a perfect time.”
And the ballgame went ahead. The Miami Marlins defeated the Atlanta Braves 5–2.
And then Shani and the BaAM team had to supervise the dismantling of almost everything. Almost.
“They left the field itself as a gift to the service men and women.”
This wasn’t the first major sports event Shani has worked on. She’s been project supervisor for NHL outdoor hockey games such as the Winter Classic and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Vancouver.
Shani cut her organizational teeth as a stage manager for Canadian theatrical productions. It’s something she got into at King’s where she majored in theatre. Shani was involved in thirteen productions with the King’s Theatrical Society and that’s where she learned, as she says, “I wanted to make make-believe for a living.”
But not as an actor.
“I found my home backstage and just stayed there… a stage manager is the primary communication point for the actors, director, all of the designers and the technicians. The stage manager knows what’s going on with all those groups and communicates with them throughout the whole process.”
And when the play opens the director leaves and the stage manager is in charge.
“I like being part of the magic backstage, knowing all the inner workings of how it’s happening and the audience not knowing how we did it.”
The difference these days is the size of the productions. Shani says: “In a theatre production you might have an audience of 400. Now I am working in football stadiums and baseball stadiums that can hold between 40 and 100 thousand people.”
And while that is, no doubt at all, more complicated, more stressful, it still fits Shani like a glove.
“I like creating a well-oiled machine that just works.”