Rubicon Theater – Karyl Lynn Burns & Jim O’Neil

In 805conversations by Mark Sylvester

Creating Cultural Capital for Twenty Years

The audience is the final character in the play.”

Karyl Lynn Burns and Jim O’Neil are the co-founders of the Rubicon Theater in downtown Ventura, California. They are celebrating their 20th Anniversary Season with six new shows. They call it “A Season of Enchantment.”

Jim has a long career in the theater; acting, directing, writing and producing. He’s the Artistic Director Emeritus at Rubicon. Karyl Lynn has focused her career as an actress and is the Producing Artistic Director. They don’t run the theater by themselves, they’ve got a fantastic team and pull from a volunteer pool of over 300 people. 20% of the volunteers have been with them since the beginning 20 years ago.

Jim and Karyl Lynn are married and work closely together. In this episode, we explore what it’s like to live as a creative couple. They have some ground rules: limit work-talk at home, remember that they’re friends and co-workers and never forget their shared values.

There were plenty of threads to travel down in this far-reaching interview including,

  • How to read the audience?
  • What does it mean to be a non-profit and how that affects operations?
  • How running the theater is like sailing, you plot a course and then go with the winds.

Over the years they have had 45,000 students go through their summer programs, and over 440,000 people have enjoyed their productions.