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University of Massachusetts Amherst

Family Business Center

Boston Globe: FastTrack

Play explores issues that family firms face

By Ronald Rosenberg, Globe Staff, 06/03/98

If the play and film ''Other People's Money,'' which portrayed the demise of a small New England wire and cable business brought on by an unscrupulous takeover hustler (memorably played onscreen by Danny DeVito), is your view of the perils of family-run companies, then consider ''Wait Till Your Father Gets Home,'' which premieres June 17.

The play, with three original songs, is another way of exposing the issues family firms routinely face and is aimed at owners of family-run businesses and their key nonfamily employees, said Ira Bryck, director of the University of Massachusetts Family Business Center in Amherst.

But Bryck, who wrote the play with psychologist Erik Muten (the play's director), wanted to more than humorously dramatize the issues that family businesses face. So he made the 90-minute play about the trials and tribulations of the virtual family operating Schwartz and Weiss Tools ''interactive,'' opening it to the audience for two discussion periods. ''We wanted to develop a family that was chock-full of the typical family business situations, including who should run the business, realizing it is not a safety net and employment agency for other family members,'' said Bryck.

''The themes deal with how parents don't teach children how to cooperate yet expect them to act like a team in business, the role of key employees who are not family members, and challenging the assumption that the eldest male should run the business when the father dies. ''My hope is that when the curtain goes down, the families in the audience will get in their cars and continue the discussions.''

This is the second UMass Amherst Family Business Center production. Last year's ''Peril's of Pauline's Family Business'' was performed 20 times at or near universities with family business centers, which serve as discussion forums.

'Wait Till Your Father Gets Home'' will be performed in the Boston area in November. Tickets to the June 17 premiere are $75 per person and include dinner at the Inn at Northampton. For reservations call 413-545-1537.

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