Meet the New Judge Wrangler 

William McMahon 

“What does a Judge Wrangler do, exactly?”

             photo by Raul Barcelona

I’ve known Rochele Tillman for over a decade through our mutual history with Emerging Artists Theatre Company and with the New York Innovative Theatre Awards, where we volunteer annually as part of the presenter’s team at the awards ceremony. She has been involved with the IT Awards from the very beginning by participating in the original roundtable discussions. She provided feedback and ideas for - what was at the time - a crazy, untested, peer-evaluated awards system for Off-Off-Broadway.

Rochele is a very talented performer who has worked Off-Off-Broadway and knows the ropes. I remember her giving a delightful performance in Answering the Echo by Larry Harris (opposite her close friend, Brian Letscher; currently in the TV Series Scandal). She showed an infectious sense of humor and a gift for comedy that made that piece a standout in the evening. Both performers won Best Actor Honorable Mention Awards from the Turnip Festival Producers at the American Globe Theater. Possessing a Master of Arts from University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Bachelor of Arts from Western Michigan University, both in Theater; Rochele is certainly well versed in the craft and business of performance and theater at large.  Not to mention fun to talk to.

I was asked to interview for this article, centering it on her work as a “Judge Wrangler.”  Which sounds dangerously physical to me, so I had to ask Rochele about that.

“What does a Judge Wrangler do, exactly?” I inquired.  “Well, it’s basically an administrative job,” she replied.  She, along with David Stern, are the main contacts for the judges; assigning them to shows that need to be adjudicated, guiding them through their responsibilities, and answering any other questions. She also helps recruit At-Large Judges (responsible local artists from all areas of the theater community). “Rochele and David are the back bone of the IT Awards,” says Executive Director, Shay Gines. While most of their duties are conducted online, there’s a fun part too.

“I get to notify nominees!” she exclaims. 

“Okay, that does sound like fun. I hope to get that call from you someday,” I muse. “Where do you see the IT Awards going forward?  What do you think the next five years will bring?”

“In the near future we are looking to revamp the website giving it a more modern look and adding new functionality to navigate faster and more efficiently; as someone that is plugged into the matrix daily, this excites me to no end.”  Regarding 5 years from now…”I hope to still be working with my friends at the IT Awards, adjudicating shows and supporting the Off-Off-Broadway community while celebrating extraordinary artistic performances and theatrical productions.” 


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