Friday, October 29, 20201 – 10:45 a.m.
Lara Shipp is the Yoknapatawpha Players' producer.
Detectives Magee and Beckwith interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Lara Shipp
Detective Beckwith: Thank you for coming in. Please state your name and address for the record.
Lara Shipp: I'm Lara Shipp. My address is 1103 Grant Circle.
Detective Magee: Thank you. What is your role with the theatre company?
Lara Shipp: I'm the producer.
Detective Magee: What's your responsibility as the producer?
Lara Shipp: Basically, anything business-related. I'm responsible for the overall financial functions of the theatre company, plus the specific financials of each show. Anna and I tackle the personnel hiring together, but I'm responsible for making sure all the incoming and outgoing money gets where it's supposed to go.
Detective Beckwith: Has there been tension surrounding the financials?
Lara Shipp: Can you be more specific?
Detective Beckwith: Okay, is the theatre operating in the black?
Lara Shipp: Yes. I'm very good at my job.
Detective Beckwith: Then where was the tension?
Lara Shipp: Well, there's the fact that I'm very good at my job. It requires me to emphatically say "no" to people who are not always naturally pragmatic. I'm caught between board members who want things done on the cheap and the artists who need things to be a certain way to tell the story of the script.
Detective Magee: Did this ever result in confrontation?
Lara Shipp: Often, yes.
Detective Beckwith: With threats of violence?
Lara Shipp: No. Never.
Detective Magee: Is the immersive performance style more expensive to produce?
Lara Shipp: Very much so. Props, costumes, and set pieces need to look more realistic, and for this production, more weapons were built or purchased for the audience members to use. Additional sound and lighting equipment had to be purchased. The rental of the warehouse space is an added expense.
Detective Beckwith: Was there any concern about going into the red with the additional spending?
Lara Shipp: No. I won't let that happen. People try to push, but … mess with the bull, get the horns. A couple of folks found this out the hard way.
Detective Magee: Really. Like who, for instance?
Lara Shipp: Most recently, Scott. He and I had more than one argument about how the money was being apportioned. He made some purchases and tried to submit receipts for reimbursement, and I told him there was no money for that yet. He threatened something about how he'd hate to have to go to Anna about it.
Detective Magee: Did he make trouble for you?
Lara Shipp: Oh, please. The reason Anna trusts me with the money is because I'm unmovable when it comes to overspending.
Detective Beckwith: But failure wasn't an option for this pet project of hers, right? So are you sure this wouldn't have put you in a bad position with Anna?
Lara Shipp: Yes, I'm sure.
Detective Magee: And Scott never went over your head to Anna about it?
Lara Shipp: I don't know. I never heard anything.
Detective Beckwith: So what happened. Did he just drop it?
Lara Shipp: Well, not exactly, but we worked it out.
Detective Magee: How so?
Lara Shipp: There was money. It just needed to be reapportioned, so I shifted some funds. The plan was to replace it with funds from a private donation we were expecting.
Detective Beckwith: Was the board aware of this reapportioning?
Lara Shipp: No, but once the board approves the overall budget, there's some flexibility within certain line items. I mean, I would've made sure Scott got what he needed. Eventually.
Detective Beckwith: Do you make it a practice to shift money around?
Lara Shipp: Only when necessary, and I always put it back.
Detective Magee: Was everyone on the board in agreement with additional spending?
Lara Shipp: No, but getting everyone on the board to agree to anything is a challenge. Ultimately, they voted to trust Anna to make the immersive idea a success. She's really good at her job, too, so I never doubted that the show would make money.
Detective Beckwith: So you supported this financial risk?
Lara Shipp: Absolutely.
Detective Beckwith: Are you aware of anyone who didn't support it?
Lara Shipp: Yes. Cherie wasn't thrilled about the direction Anna was taking the theatre company.
Detective Beckwith: Do you know why?
Lara Shipp: Not specifically since Cherie doesn't really speak to me unless she has to, but I'm guessing that Cherie's financial windfall after Glenn died—and her wanting to keep it all to herself—has something to do with it.
Detective Magee: Why doesn't Cherie speak to you, do you think?
Lara Shipp: She doesn't understand the financial world and doesn't want to discuss financial matters. Cherie doesn't share her husband's vision, and now that he's dead, she doesn't want to share his money anymore.
Detective Beckwith: Is she obligated to?
Lara Shipp: Glenn was a mentor to me. He was very generous with his time and his knack for handling financial matters. Cherie contributes nothing there. Glenn also was very generous with his financial donations. He made it clear he wanted her to continue his legacy, but I don't know whether there is some paper trail to prove it.
Detective Magee: Any other board members reluctant to support Anna's immersive project?
Lara Shipp: Well, Heath, but he wasn't against the project. In fact, he liked it. But he's spineless because he wants Cherie to like him. Since Cherie voted no, Heath voted no. Everyone else was willing to take the chance—especially Neal and Martin, but for personal reasons.
Detective Beckwith: How so?
Lara Shipp: Between you and me, Martin is an egomaniac. His need to be center stage can be irritating, but it also makes him easy to manipulate. All Anna had to do was ensure him a superhero moment in the play, and he was all in for the immersive concept.
Detective Magee: What about Neal?
Lara Shipp: Neal and Anna used to date. He ended it. Recently he regretted that, and he began pursuing her again. So, he tries to win her favor in board meetings by agreeing with Anna on everything.
Detective Magee: It sounds like you don't approve of his efforts to win her back.
Lara Shipp: I find it cloying and unattractive.
Detective Beckwith: How about Anna? Is she receptive to his attention?
Lara Shipp: Well, no, but that's not exclusive to Neal. She doesn't have much free time, and the immersive show really left no time at all. She was looking forward to having a bit of a social life outside of the theatre once the show opened, but she wasn't going to date Neal.
Detective Magee: Are you and Anna close friends outside of work?
Lara Shipp: Yes, very. In fact, people try to use me to get to Anna.
Detective Magee: How so?
Lara Shipp: By complaining to me and hoping I'll tell Anna, or outright asking me to ask Anna for some favor. Some people really take advantage.
Detective Beckwith: Which people?
Lara Shipp: Janet is the worst. Like everyone else, she'll complain to me about Anna's show choices or casting choices, but what really aggravates me is the jealousy over Neal. I mean, Anna moved on from Neal and actually had agreed to go out with Scott, so Janet's jealousy of Anna is a complete mystery.
Detective Magee: Did that create additional tension?
Lara Shipp: Only for me. Janet's passive-aggressive. Actually, Janet's passive-passive. She just kind of whines about stuff instead of taking action. I think she was hoping I'd go to Neal and tell him about her crush.
Detective Magee: Did you?
Lara Shipp: No. I don't participate in junior high school behavior. I didn't go to Anna, and I didn't go to Neal. I also didn't tell Anna that Martin didn't like his costume because it didn't show off his pecs or a thousand other complaints from board members, tech staff, or actors that have nothing to do with the financials or the artistic vision of the theatre.
Detective Magee: Thank you for your time today, Ms. Shipp. If we need to follow up for any reason, we'll let you know.
Lara Shipp: I'm available for anything you need, detectives.
Interview ended – 11:07 a.m.