The 5 Stages of Post-Show Grief

*Yeah, I picked a House picture because I like Hugh Laurie and it has the 5 stages listed. It doesn’t really have anything to do with this post…


Ok, so as I believe I mentioned, I was expecting post Fringe to be double whamm-ied on the whole “my show is over, what am I doing with my life” thing. Usually I have a good 1-2 months of depression after a show but because I did Persuasion and In the Ebb back to back with no depression down time, I figured I was due for a good 2-4 months of blahs. And, guess what? I was right. So the last three months have been a bit on the tough side for me. Add to that the fact that I turned 40 during that time and yes, it’s been a rocky few months. But! There’s good news on the horizon, Fringe ended on August 26th so I am well past the 2 month mark and am pretty sure that I’m passed the worst of the doldrums. I spent this weekend feeling motivated and I have jumped into planning for what promises to be a really exciting year for GTTP. So that is good news and, in the next few weeks, you will be hearing about lots of exciting things happening on our little island.

However, during these last 3 months, I did a lot of thinking and I realized that even this post show thing follows the 5 stages of grief. Because, although thankfully, it is not the same as losing someone you care about, a show ending is its own little death. You know there will be other shows and you know you’ll have fun again, but that show, with those people, that exact experience is gone forever and will never come again…and that, ladies and gents? That’s super sad. So with that in mind, here are the five stages of grief in the post show world…

Denial – “No, the show isn’t over. It’s not gone. I’m fine. We’re all fine. The cast and crew is doing a party tonight and we’re going to get together once a week forever and it’s going to be exactly the same.”  Or, even better, “We’re going to do a revival of this exact show with this exact cast and crew and the fun is never going to end!”

Anger – “How can this be happening to me? How DARE the show has ended! Those bastards (yeah I don’t know which bastards I’m referring to) have never understood my art! Why does this always happen to me?”

Bargaining – “I’ll do anything to keep doing this show. If I promise to really appreciate it this time, it can keep going right?”

Depression – “This sucks. I’ll never do another show again…”

Acceptance – “It’s going to be ok. There will be more shows and it’s time to get started on the next one.”

What I’ve found to be particularly difficult is the depression stage. For me, the first 3 stages happen relatively  quickly (like a couple of days) and the acceptance stage happens in the blink of an eye but the depression, that’s what really gets you. Because it’s not just that you feel sad. I mean sadness is definitely a part of it, but you start to feel unmotivated and if you’re not careful, you spin into this emotional space where everything you do or consider doing seems futile. Because, you know, you ain’t curing cancer, folks. You’re just telling your little story. Don’t get me wrong, I think story telling is important. OBVIOUSLY I think story telling is important – I mean I have devoted my career to it and it is something I’m really good at so yes, I think it’s important. But, in the midst of one of these post show depressions you can’t help (at least I can’t) but think:

Hmm. So I struggle and I fight and I rehearse and I plan and I raise money and I make it happen and I do a show.

And people like it.

And then it ends.

And I’m right back where I started.

It’s kind of like the Tetris game to end all Tetris games. I mean, ok, I got the highest score I’ve ever gotten, but in the end the board will in fact fill with little pieces and the game will end and I’ll just start it again. And you can’t help but have that moment when you think, “so why even bother?” And it becomes really hard to push yourself to jump into the  next project – even if it’s something you’re excited about. Even if it’s something you’ve been wanting to do for months on end. And that’s why for me the depression is the hardest and longest stage. Of course, invariably, there comes that moment when it hits you that the reason you bother is because it does matter. It does make a difference. You affected someone (sometimes a bunch of someones) with what you did. No, you didn’t cure cancer but you entertained and you made someone think or laugh or cry or all three. And that does matter. And, if these are the skills you were blessed with then it is an affront to nature to not use them.

I still remember the first time I did In the Ebb with GTTP. It was our first show and it was the first of my post show depressions that my husband (not yet my husband at the time) witnessed firsthand and I remember saying something melodramatic and silly to him like, “why do I even bother? It’s not like I’ve done anything important.” And he said, “what are you talking about? You entertained people and moved them. You introduced them to this beautiful language, to these amazing performances and characters. You helped bring these concepts and ideas out into the world. This idea of the Never. This character of the Waterlogged Woman. You brought them to life and now, for everyone who was involved in the show and for everyone who saw it, you made these little changes in how they see the world. How can you think that’s not important?” Well, along with making me decide I wanted to marry him, my husband showed me  things from a different perspective. No, my stories are not going to save lives but I believe, for the short time we’re on this earth, what matters most is how we affect other people and whether the cast, crew, and audience are big or small, all those people are affected by what we do. Recognizing that is what usually pulls me out of these post show slumps. Of course, it can’t be forced. You can know it in your head but if it takes a month (or four if it’s post back to back shows) to know it in your heart than that’s what it takes. All you can do is all you can ever do – hang in there and take the ride where it takes you.

Arts and Sports and the things they share…

Ok, so I have another few posts waiting in the wings and I’ll get them up on the site in the next few weeks. I’ll talk about post-show depression and new GTTP members – new projects and the life of a small independent theater company and everything will return to normal but before I do that I wanted to just say something about this whole natural disaster thing.

First off, I want to say that thankfully GTTP is fine. We’ve weathered the weather with limited damage to property and no damage to the people in the Tahiti circle. I also got word from Richard Mazda, the owner of The Secret Theatre, and, despite it being near the Hurricane Sandy flood zone, our unofficial home is also fine. No damage to any of the three theater spaces there so we are very thankful to the storm gods for that. Our community is safe. However, as I’m sure you’re all well aware, the Eastern Seaboard, particularly New Jersey and New York, were not so lucky. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by the storm who recently got slammed again by this little nor’easter that blew through last night.

“We hear you Jess, but we saw the title of this post, what on earth does this have to do with sports?” you ask. Good question. I’m getting there. Some of you already know this but for those who don’t, I am a sometimes runner. In 2006 I ran (actually after mile 14 it was mainly walking) the Chicago Marathon and I was scheduled to run (I was hoping to make at least mile 20 before walking this time) the NY Marathon last Sunday…And as many of you also know, in the wake of the storm, the NY Marathon was cancelled. Let me just say here, this post is not about the controversy surrounding either the original decision to have the marathon or the eventual decision to cancel it. (For those of you who want to know my opinion, just for the record, I agree that canceling it was the right decision, though a part of me was still disappointed not to be able to run and hope to run it next year. But, as I said, that’s not what this post is about.)

What this post is about is Arts and Sports and the things they share. I know that from an 80′s high school movie standpoint arts and sports have nothing in common. There are jocks and there are drama kids and never the twain shall meet. But, as a lover of sports movies, I’ve never understood that totally black and white view of either high school or, honestly, the world. Sometimes the drama kids are athletic. Sometimes the athletes can sing…You get my drift, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about either.

What I wanted to talk about here is the thing that I think sport and art most have in common and that is their power to create a community who might not share anything else in common but they all like “this” whatever this happens to be. In this instance, when I say art I mean theater (because, of course, that’s what I do) but it applies to all of the arts: music, or painting, sculpture, or photography – you name it – they can all connect you with others. And, when I say sport, because I’m about to talk about running, in this instance that’s the sport I’m referring to but anyone who has cheered on his or her team during the world series, or the world cup – anyone who has cried over his horse’s defeat at the Kentucky Derby or her team’s defeat in a high school championship knows that any sport can bring people together.  Because sports and the arts, they are more than just sport and art, they are ideas. Ideas we believe in. Ideas we share with others. And both sport and art create these little tribes, these little families that believe in the same thing. It might be the only thing they agree on but on that idea they are united.

Close to 1300 marathoners-turned-relief-workers wait in the Staten Island Ferry terminal for the boat to take us to the island.

I’ve spent the last week, both when I thought the marathon was happening and then after it was cancelled, looking at my feelings about the race. I was conflicted about running had it gone ahead. Don’t get me wrong, if the city decided to do the race, I would have run it – I had trained too hard for too long not to run, but I was conflicted and I realized one of the reasons for my conflict was that to me the NY Marathon – hell, any marathon but particularly New York – is an idea. And a grand one at that. It’s about pushing yourself to the limit. It’s not just a 26.2 mile run. For every runner who does a marathon (or who trains for a marathon) it’s about setting yourself a goal and then either accomplishing it or not but learning about yourself during the struggle. It’s about looking at this crazy distance and saying, “no way. I can’t do it.” And then doing it anyway. For the NY Marathon, it’s about a whole city lining the streets and cheering for you even though they don’t know you – coming together to help you because in the end it’s about looking into the abyss and knowing the abyss is looking back at you, steely eyed, and pissed off, and then choosing to jump into it anyway, and to be honest, you need all the help you can get. It’s dramatic and it’s moving and no matter how alone you might be when you train, when you line up with thousands of other people to run, and when you run through streets lined with thousands of other people cheering you on – well, you ain’t alone anymore. Because that’s what the marathon is about – setting goals and challenging yourself and getting through hard stuff with the help of your community. And though you show up with strangers, you soon make friends as you struggle and suffer together. And though you’re cheered on by strangers, you find your friends along the route. And for one day – for one moment in time, this enormous, isolating city, filled with millions of people, becomes this community of people all in it together.

But this year, as the true extent of Hurricane Sandy’s damage started to register and the thought that resources might be diverted from relief efforts for the race…it stopped being about everyone coming together. The city was broken, and the marathon couldn’t be the band-aid that fixed it. So it was cancelled. And it was the right call, but it didn’t change the fact that there were a bunch of people who wanted to run. (Do you see how I’m setting the scene here?)

So a bunch of people wanted to run…and a bunch of people on Staten Island (the starting point for the marathon) needed help. And in stepped New York Runners In Support of Staten Island. Organized by a group of runners who were planning to do the marathon, (and they put this together in about 24 hours, folks), the group urged hundreds of would be marathoners to spend the Saturday before the marathon buying relief supplies and readying backpacks instead of resting up and carb loading for the following day’s 26.2. And, on Sunday morning, as planned, we loaded onto the Staten Island Ferry and took a ride. The idea was that we’d all put on something orange (the race’s color), we’d put the supplies in backpacks and we’d run the supplies out to people on the island who needed them most. Along the way we’d pitch in and help, however we could, but most importantly, we’d go door to door – we’d hand out supplies, we’d help clear debris, we’d listen to stories the folks needed to tell, we’d cry with them or hug them or be with them – whatever they needed. We were told to be flexible and ready for anything. And instead of running away from Staten Island, we’d run right to the heart of it.

It was expected to be about two hundred people. Thirteen hundred showed up instead. It started with 5 different groups separated by distances: 6-8 miles, 8-10 miles, 10-12 miles, 12-14 miles, 14+ miles. It turned out there were at least 2 groups for each distance. For me, I knew I could do a full 26.2 but with 20 pounds of relief supplies on my back? With my old thick-soled sneakers instead of my barefoot shoes (there was a lot of debris still on the streets)? Without bathrooms or water breaks or aid stations? I decided I’d opt for the 8-10 mile route.

So Sunday morning, we arrive on Staten Island and a bunch of groups, clad in orange hats or tops or pants or all three take off to points south and west of the terminal. My

The Orange-Clad Army on ferry number 2.

group, scheduled to go 8-10 miles, gathers around our leader to confirm our route and get ready to head out. Then the leader makes an announcement. It turns out that they’ve talked to FEMA and discovered that the people who really need our help are a bit further out. So instead of 8-10 miles it looks like where the help is really needed on our route is a round trip distance closer to 14 miles (4-6 miles farther than expected). So our leader makes the announcement – it’ll be 14 miles not 8, but that’s where the help is most needed. “So,” she says, “we can either stick with the original plan or we can scrap it and go where they most need us. Why don’t we take a vote? Let me get a show of hands for everyone who wants to do the original 8 mile route.” And then she looks out at the crowd. And do you know what she saw? Not a collection of individuals but a community with a single idea – Not one hand was raised…not one.

And it wasn’t peer pressure. It wasn’t like everyone looked around and noticed that no one else was raising a hand and so thought, “oh, I can’t be the only one to raise a hand.” Because, the thing is – nobody even turned their heads. No one shuffled, no one looked at their neighbors, no one hesitated or even considered raising a hand. It was as if 35 people collectively and silently decided – “we go. We go where we’re needed.”

And did I mention these people were mostly strangers. I mean there were little pockets – 2 people together here, 3 there – but as a group, we hadn’t met before we showed up to run. We didn’t know each other, we just came together because we shared this thing – this idea. This wish to challenge ourselves, but also to help. This wish to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. To be a part of this group. And in this case, our little community could help a bigger one. So that’s what we did.

Taking a break at the FEMA station before heading back home.

We ran out to the FEMA station and along the way we stopped to hand out supplies – “who needs garbage bags?” “Do you need food and water?” “How about soap and shampoo, I’ve got soap and shampoo here?” We helped carry debris. We listened. One woman, standing in front of a pile of debris that a week earlier had been the contents of her brother’s home, hugged me and cried and said she just needed to know they weren’t alone. She didn’t need anything in my backpack but in that moment she seemed to need me. Just to know that they weren’t alone. That they weren’t forgotten. That was what she seemed to need most of all.

In the end it was a long, hard, wonderful, awful day. The devastation is unbelievable – and my group didn’t even get to the worst of it. Houses that are piles of debris. Cars that have been washed onto embankments. Sinkholes where once there were sidewalks or fields. One of the other runners kept saying to me, “how do you come back from this? How do you ever get back to normal after this?” And all I kept thinking was, “you don’t do it alone, that’s how.” So, in the end, I think sport and art have the power to move, to make a difference. And hopefully, in some small way, the power to heal. But their greatest power, is the power to bring us together.

In the weeks and months to come, as the temperature drops and more storms roll through areas with weakened (or in some cases obliterated) infrastructure, my heart goes out to everyone who is trying to come back from this. And, I want to say – you’re not alone. Because, it turns out, a run is a lot like a play — it is a statement — an idea — of strength and community, of coming together, of not being alone.

The folks in Staten Island and other parts of New York and New Jersey still need your help. Please join our community. Please help.

Red Cross –

Interoccupy -

Time Out –

Like the facebook page and get involved – you don’t even have to run:

New York Runners In Support Of Staten Island -


And, if you’d like to donate money -

Tongue In Cheek’s OUR TOWN at Shetler Studios…

Last week, I had the opportunity to see a lovely new production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, produced by Tongue in Cheek Productions. Our Town is one of those shows that has become so ubiquitous that (in the abstract) you wonder “why would anyone bother to do this show? Hasn’t it been done to death? What new things could anyone have to say about it?” It’s one of those shows that, as a friend of mine says – “every high school in America does it. Every four years they trot it out because it has a huge cast and no props, no set requirements and it’s safe for audiences of all ages”…And it’s what I thought until I saw this production and was reminded that beautiful writing and simple straightforward storytelling coupled with excellent acting and directing is always worthwhile. There’s always something new to say…

The first thing that struck me as I sat down in the audience, was the realization that, despite the play’s popularity, I had never actually seen a live performance of it before. Sure, I had read it countless times. And discussed the play itself but I had never seen it performed live. And then the show started and I was reminded, yet again, of the power of live theater. In the hands of a talented ensemble, you don’t need lots of flash and you don’t need millions of dollars to tell a compelling tale and take the audience with you on musings about the big — the meaning of life and death — and the small — two teenagers sharing an ice cream soda at the local general store — and how closely the two (big and small) are related.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, Our Town is a simple story about the happenings of a small town in New Hamshire. People go about living their lives and the play tells you about them. Nothing happens. But the power of the play is that moment when you realize that in examining a life where “nothing happens” you see that nothing is everything. Our Town is the embodiment of that idea, which I first heard so eloquently stated in the tv show Angel, (yup, I went there, and btw, god bless Joss Whedon) that “if nothing we do matters… , then all that matters is what we do. ‘Cause that’s all there is. What we do. Now. Today.” Our Town takes that idea and runs with it. What is a life? What does it mean? How do we make our lives matter? How do we appreciate it while we have it? And, what happens to us after we’re gone? It’s a quietly moving story and in the hands of Jake Lipman and the Tongue in Cheek ensemble, one that is beautifully told.

Across the board, the acting was superb, but I’d like to call particular attention to Nina Leese, Shelley Little, and Ms. Lipman herself. Nina Leese brought both gravitas and ease to the role of Mrs. Gibbs, fueling the heart of this bittersweet tale while also completely nailing the very ordinariness of life. Shelly Little portrayed Emily with both naivete and knowledge, making her a young woman coming into her own while still trying to hold onto the innocence of childhood. And, Jake Lipman, as the guiding character of The Stage Manager, anchored the show at the same time she propelled it by carrying it on her shoulders. As a director/producer myself, I know exactly what it takes to put together a production of this nature. That Ms. Lipman was able to do it while also crafting such a compelling performance, is an examble of her extraordinary skill. From a directing standpoint, she did what I consider to be the most difficult and important thing as a director — direct in such a way that it seems like you weren’t there at all. Her staging was understated but moving — straightforward while also being beautiful. And, by helping the actors to creat so many different environments with simple chairs and tables she deftly handled all the challenges the play presented. The creation of a scene in a cemetery was particularly poignant in its staging.

Finally, I wanted to mention something I did not expect from Our Town — I expected to be moved, and brought the requisite tissues — but I did not expect to laugh as much as I did. It turns out, Our Town is a pretty funny show. Don’t get me wrong — it’s not some “roll-on-the-floor-laughing-for-2-hours-straight” funny but it is like life — at the moments you least expect it, someone says something in a particular way and you find yourself laughing out loud and suddenly life doesn’t feel so cold and lonely anymore.

Our Town runs for one more week at Shetler Studios on 54th Street in Manhattan. For tickets and more details go here. For more info about Tongue in Cheek and read some interviews with cast members of Our Town, check out their website and blog. And, whether you’ve seen Our Town before, or not, don’t miss your chance to see this beautifully-staged, superbly-acted, and all-around terrific production of this American classic.

Ten things I learned doing The NY International Fringe Festival…

Ok, so I have owed my trusty readers (hi, Mom!) a post for about a month now. I do apologize for being so absent from the blogosphere but it turns out Fringe took a lot more out of me then expected and when the past few Mondays rolled around I just didn’t have it in me to compose something witty and exciting for a post and so I didn’t … I actually did start 4 different posts and if I could figure out a way to back date them I would totally post them but since I can’t I’ll just say they started like this:

POST 1 (that didn’t get posted) – so, we’re about to open In the Ebb at HERE Mainstage and I can’t wait for you all to see it.

POST 2 (that didn’t get posted) – so, we just opened In the Ebb at HERE Mainstage and I think you guys will love it!

POST 3 (that didn’t get posted) – so, the reviewer from didn’t get it. Though he thought In the Ebb was beautifully written, Camilla “has a poetic soul” and I have “a true talent for staging”, he thought the show was boring and he didn’t find the themes universal or connectable (yes, I made up that word but that’s the gist of the review – fear of loss apparently isn’t a universal theme – oops, I guess that makes the worrier in me a bit of a freak). ANYway, I would have said in the post (had I gotten around to posting it) that I would be worried that the review would have kept folks away, but I can now say in hindsight that we had decent audiences (not Jane Austen’s Persuasion sized audiences but decent all the same) and everyone I talked to seemed to love it so, to quote Mrs. DiSalvo in Act II – “I guess we did ok.”

POST 4 (that didn’t get posted) – so, the reviewer from California Litereary Review TOTALLY got it. Now THAT’s what I call a review. I found this one much more reflective of the work we did on stage. Though there were a couple of typos in the review (Saul Steinberg instead of Stewart and Ian DeNio instead of Ien) I felt that this reviewer actually got what we were saying. He caught the beauty in the words and the performances, and he ALSO understood Camilla’s humor finding much of the play “extremely funny even as it peers into the abyss.” I do wish that the people who “got me” were the only ones who also got to review me, but again to quote Mrs. DiSalvo, “you don’t get to pick.”

which brings me to this post:

POST 5 (that WILL get posted) – So now Fringe is over. It has been such a whirlwind. Going from Persuasion directly into In the Ebb is not necessarily the way I’d recommend doing the Festival for the first time, but on the flip side, it was nice to just go from show to show instead of hanging around waiting for my next project to begin. It means I completely bypassed my “post show depression” after Persuasion. Of course that could also mean that I’m due for a double whammy on the depression front now that In the Ebb is over, but hopefully I’ll slide into something else really exciting – like adapting Within Arm’s Reach for the stage. Anywho, here’s what I learned in Fringe:

1) Before you have a cast, reading the play out loud at a very slow speed is NOT going to give you an accurate representation of how long the play will run in performance.

- Fringe requires you to give a running time in your application, and though you still have time to change that after you get accepted to the festival, the date when you do have to give them a hard – set-in-stone – run time will most likely be at least a month before you’ve cast the show, let alone done a first run through and have an accurate sense of the run time. I had originally thought the run time of the two one acts (one fewer act than the first time I did this show) would be 75 minutes INCLUDING a 10 minute intermission. I discovered 2 days before my tech that we were running about 95 minutes WITHOUT an intermission. That was a weekend of frantic cuts trying not to cut scenes but still lose 20 minutes from the show. One day, I vow that I will do this show in its entirety.

2) A certified Flameproofer is your best friend!

- Fringe requires that all set pieces be certified flameproof. Although my set was stuff that was most likely already flameproofed (Ikea chairs and rehearsal cubes) I needed proof and that means tags from purchase (which ain’t an option since I purchased the chairs years ago for use in the first production of In the Ebb). One option was to cart the stuff out to New Jersey and have the Fringe-recommended vendor test the stuff and if it wasn’t fireproof then I could leave it there for 3 DAYS – yup DAYS – and then head back out there and pick it up. Then I found someone who was Manhattan-based and let me tell you – finding someone who can come to you and flameproof your set and give you a certificate proving that it’s flameproofed is a whole helluva lot better than having to cart your entire set out to Jersey.

3) Get yourself some good, talented, reliable friends.

- Throughout the years I have connected with some people who I can’t imagine stumbling through life without. Sarah and Ian, for example, not only said I could borrow one of their DINING ROOM chairs for a WHOLE MONTH, they didn’t bat an eye when I said I would have to chemically treat the chair so that it was officially flame proofed. When I asked if I could rent his rehearsal cubes for 3 weeks, Richard was all “why don’t you just borrow them” and, Jen, once again, offered up the Chevy Blazer to be used and abused for whatever I needed, which it turned out was a lot of set, prop and costume transportation.

4) Work with talented people you trust and love – again and again and again.

- My crazy talented sound designer, Ien DeNio, crazy talented lighting designer, Sam Gordon, crazy talented projections designer, Zeljka Blaksic, and crazy talented company manager, Carrie Keskinen, all re-upped with GTTP and I literally could NOT have done this show without them. Their talent, skill, and professionalism made this show work! And their ability to roll with the punches (see Number 6) meant that we were able to function within the stressful time-compressed world of Fringe.

5) Make sure you cast riDONKulously capable and talented actors who work well together!

- I’ve known for awhile that I’m pretty good at casting. I can usually see in an audition what an actor will be capable of and I usually have a sense of whether a group of actors will work together well. It’s a wonderful thing, a real honor, to get the opportunity to bring together 7 strangers and watch them, through rehearsals, turn into a family. This most recent family included: Crawford M. Collins, Leah Gabriel, Mary Goggin, Michael Komala, Stewart Steinberg, Montgomery Sutton, and Lisa Crosby Wipperling.

6) Hook up with a group that is calm under pressure and be ready to figure out technical aspects on the fly…

- So, for those of you who don’t know, the way Fringe works (in fact the way most theater festivals work) is that you are really assigned only one chance to be in the venue before your show opens and that chance is your tech rehearsal. In the case of Fringe, your tech rehearsal is only 2 times the length of your running time (see point #1 in this list and the importance of determining that run time well in advance of rehearsals) and you must must must run through the entire show without stop so that the Fringe folks can time you (with a stopwatch) and know for certain that you’ll fit in your allotted time. Since tech for a normal show is usually at least 3 days and often as long as a week (it’s called Tech WEEK for a reason, folks) having only 2 and a half hours in the venue to tech your show can make for a tricky situation. Add to that the complication that, because of Fringe scheduling, our tech day was actually a full week before our first performance, there was a high amount of stress on that particular 2.5 hours. What’s more, because we were the first group to tech in the space, we spent what should have been our hour and 15 minutes that was set aside for a cue to cue (where we actually go through the entire play just looking at and listening to each lighting, sound and projection cue) figuring out why the projector wasn’t working and how lights in the theater (whose layout we were supposed to be given in advance but weren’t) were going to run our lighting design. SO, having the cast and crew that I had – a group of people who just went with the flow and didn’t pull any diva crap (though it was well within their rights to do so) and just buckled down and did the job – what’s that Friday Night Lights phrase – “git ‘er done” – well this group GOT ‘ER DONE!

7) Get assigned the prettiest venue at the festival and luck out on the awesomest, chillest, terrific-est venue director on the planet.

- So, as a Fringe show, you get no say in the venue you’re assigned. Basically, the festival organizers have to figure out how to get 187 shows into 19 different venues for at least 5 performances each in a 16 day span. Each venue has to be technically capable of sustaining each show (does a show have projections, does it need fly space to drop set pieces in and out, does it need a proscenium arch, etc.) They also have to account for scheduling issues (for example, is the production company coming from Japan and not arriving in the states until 4 days after the festival has started). It’s a lot to juggle, so basically what you get is what you get and you make due. Well, somehow, I lucked into the most beautiful venue. HERE Arts Mainstage is a theater that if I were just renting, I honestly couldn’t afford for years to come. It’s a 99 seat house with a stage so big that an actor actually has to cross it (like take several steps) when moving from stage left to stage right, instead of just turning around. And the lighting grid allows for different areas of the stage to be lit while other areas are in darkness – giving actual areas of playing space instead of having the whole stage lit by default because the stage is so big that once you turn on a light you see everything. And then, as if the performance venue weren’t enough of a gift from the Fringe Gods, we were lucky enough to get assigned a venue director (a liason (supplied by Fringe) between the production company (in this case, GTTP) and the theater) who was amazing, supportive and super chill. I can not say enough good things about Christian De Gre, Artistic Director of Mind the Art Entertainment, who, while being such a terrific venue director was also overseeing his own production at the festival. The only bad thing about working with Christian, was that the nature of Fringe meant I didn’t get any time to just sit and chat with the guy – a problem I hope to remedy soon.

8) 15 minutes is a both a lot longer and a lot shorter than you think it is.

- So, because there are 187 shows in 19 venues in 16 days, on any given day, you are never the only show performing in your venue. What that means is that there is often as little as 30 minutes in between shows. Because 15 minutes before any given show has to be spent getting audience in and sitting down and 15 minutes after any show has to be spent getting audience out, as a production company you only have 15 minutes to bring everything you need into the space before and clear everything out after. We were lucky in that our set pieces (my trusty ikea chairs and our 3 rehearsal cubes) were being shared with other shows in the venue so we were able to leave them in the space, but all of our props, costumes and, you know, 7 actors, had to get in and set up in the 15 minutes before and taken down, stored and out in the 15 minutes after. I did purposefully keep the set as minimal as possible, but that first time, in tech, when we literally had a stopwatch on us, the chaos of setting everything up and taking everything down was nervewracking…then again, it turns out that even that first time when no-one knew what they were doing (“someone grab that chair and stow it”, “who grabbed the ice tea”, “where did the nun’s veil go? Do you have it?”) we were done and out the door in 6 minutes, so we got really good at running that load-in and load-out like clockwork. Again, it helped that I had the cast and crew that I did (see points 4 and 5 above).

9) Simplify more than you think is possible and then simplify some more.

- So, as I mentioned above, we only had the 15 minutes to get in and out and our tech rehearsal was…not as thorough as I would have liked, and…the script was longer than I realized. In the end we cut a lot – from lines in the script, to number of props, to complexity of set design, to lighting, sound and projection cues. And just when I thought, “I can’t possibly cut more, I can’t possibly make it more minimal,” I went through a whole other round of cuts and, to be honest, it was still an amazing, wonderful, vivid show. I always go back to that first time I saw Patrick Stewart do A Christmas Carol on Broadway – one guy, a chair, a table, a stool and a podium – he created a world that we as the audience got to live in for a couple of hours. It really is true that if the writing is there and the performances are there, you really don’t need anything else. This world ofIn the Ebb, was vivid and alive even without matching chairs and that one additional sound cue or lighting change. The audience still got it (well, except for that one reviewer but you can’t win ‘em all, right?) and it was still a captivating – Tahiti – Production.

10) When you’re at your most certain that everything will fall to s**t, it somehow all works out.

- My favorite, favorite, favorite quote about theater comes from the movie Shakespeare in Love. The exchange goes like this:

Henslowe: Allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.

Fennyman: So what do we do?

Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.

Fennyman: How?

Henslowe: I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

If I have learned one thing in my years in professionial theater it is the truth of that exchange. It’s not that you don’t do the work and it’s not that you don’t plan and prepare and rehearse, but in the end you have to trust in the magic of theater because how imminent disaster turns into live performance is truly a mystery but, no kidding? 99 times out of 100 it really does…and on that hundredth time? Well that’s what you plan and prepare and rehearse for – Anyone can have an off day.

Oh, and along those lines I also want to quote one more movie for point number 10.5. This one from Galazy Quest – “Never give up. Never surrender.” In other words, in this case, I mean:

10.5) Perserverence is everything.

- There are so many times in this business when it would be so easy to just say, “that’s it, I’m outta here.” It’s a tough business, which so far, has not paid any bills for me (and thank you to the people in my life who support me in all different ways (emotionally, spiritually, physically and monetarily) and allow me to continue doing it – I literally couldn’t do it without you), and so often it would just be easier to throw up your hands and walk, but I swear, it’s worth it. You struggle, and you strive and sometimes you fail but sometimes you succeed and every once in awhile, someone comes up to you and says, “are you involved in this production? Well, I just want to tell you, that was WONDERFUL! I was so moved.” Or you’re sitting in the audience watching a show you created and an audience member who you don’t know, who is not connected to you in any way shape or form, who walked in off the street, and spent his hard-earned money to see your show, he starts to applaud and gets to his feet to give you a standing ovation! And in that moment you want to cry because all is right with the world, because your life makes sense and what you’ve been put on this earth for is absolutely 100% crystal clear…of course sometimes they don’t clap at all, sometimes they come up to you and say, “I didn’t get it” – you want to cry then too but for a whole different reason. But no kidding, if you stick with it, you’ll get used to walking away from the latter and you’ll be able to fully appreciate the former. I say this a lot but – no kidding – never give up. never surrender…it’s worth it in the end.



In 2008 Going to Tahiti Productions launched wtih a production of In the Ebb, a play of three one acts based on short stories, written and adapted for the stage, by my little sister, Camilla. The production ran for 3 weeks and put GTTP on the map. Four years, four theaters and six productions later, we decided to re-visit a shorter version (2 one-acts instead of 3) of In the Ebb and we applied for the 2012 NY International Fringe Festival. As readers of this blog already know, that application was successful and we were accepted into this prestigious festival…

Of course, what I didn’t realize when we applied for FringeNYC (and I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this because it’s not like I’ve never had a busy schedule before) was that I would go directly from directing and producing Jane Austen’s Persuasion right into casting, directing and producing In the Ebb. So, my dear readers, the last few weeks have been…uh…hectic, yes, hectic would be the right word. Also, as if that wasn’t hectic enough, sandwiched in between the close of Persuasion and the start of rehearsals for In the Ebb was my family’s yearly, week-long trip to Cape Cod.

And though this was a mostly relaxing time which enabled me to catch my breath, and though it was wonderful and amazing to be staying in a house on a bluff overlooking Nantucket Sound, with the ocean breezes a blowing, and though I got the chance to bond with my niece and nephews, sisters, brothers-in-law, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends, though I enjoyed the clam chowder from The Chatham Squire, Aunt Irene’s homemade pizza and meatballs, and my once-a-year indulgence of all the Oreo’s I can eat…I worked both more and less than I should have and had several days of not doing my blog posts or marketing stuff and also several days of working on rehearsal schedules and prep for In the Ebb not even looking up from my computer, despite the utter adorableness of this face: 



However, I’m back from the Cape and knee deep in the show. We’ve actually just completed our first week of rehearsals and have blocked all of Act II – the one-act, St. James in the Field of Stars. Tomorrow we delve into Act I – the one-act, The Ebb (yes, I know, we’re doing things a little backwards this time around, it’s kinda fun). I am blessed with a wonderful cast and an amazing crew and I’m absolutely thrilled with what we’ve got so far. And, as always, I’m LOVING the process.

You know, despite having never planned to be a producer, I’ve come to really love the producing parts of my theater work but it still doesn’t hold a candle to my feelings for directing. The directing, that’s where I live. There is something truly amazing about waking up in the morning and heading out to a job that is rewarding, fun, interesting, challenging, entertaining, amazing and, well, just doesn’t feel at all like work. Now, if I can only find a way to make it pay my bills too I’d be a truly happy…that being said, the first step to that whole paying the bills thing, is making sure people turn up to see the show. And, the first step to making sure people turn up to see the show, is making sure they (that’s y’all by the way) know all the details like when the show is, where the show is and how to buy tickets. So, please see below for details and join us in August for In the Ebb

Performance dates:

Tuesday, August 14th @ 2pm

Wednesday, August 15th @ 9pm

Friday, August 17th @ 7pm

Saturday, August 25th @ 4:30pm

Sunday, August 26th @ 12pm

Performance location:

HERE Mainstage

145 Sixth Avenue, NY, NY

Enter on Dominick Street
(6th Avenue and Varick)

Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door and are on sale now at, on our very own Shows & Events Page, and by clicking the specific performance dates above!


All good things must come to an end…for now…

Clockwise from left, Shanae Brown, Costa Nicholas, Brad Thomason, Patrick Daniel Smith, Laura Bultman, Dina Ann Comolli, Ashley Wickett, Jenny Strassburg, Katharine McLeod, Jessica Ammirati, and Mark Montague

So, sadly, the bamboo fans have been folded up, the Empire waist dresses have been hung, the cravats untied…Jane Austen’s Persuasion is over for now. We had an amazing 14 performance, two week run, at The Secret Theatre!

We had an important first on this production – our first Sold Out Show – and on a holiday no less! I’ve already talked here about the amazing cast and crew that was a part of Persuasion and, amazing they were and continue to be. But now I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you – everone who came out to see the show – some of you twice! And all of you who support what we do. I’ve had a few people tell me how much they like our work at GTTP and I wanted to say that we couldn’t keep doing what we do here without the support of all of you out there. Thank you for coming out to our events, thank you for your donations, thank you for your kind words and THANK YOU for being a part of the GTTP family!

To be honest, I’m not sure where Jane Austen’s Persuasion will go from here. I’m hoping this isn’t the last you’ll see of this group, this show, this particular production…but whether we re-mount the show in a couple of months or years, or we let it go into that ether into which closed shows drift, you’ll definitely be seeing GTTP again sooner rather than later…in fact, if you’re around in August, come check us out at the NY International Fringe Festival. Keep an eye out for details on In the Ebb which will be posted soon.

If you haven’t had a chance, while there’s still time, please go to the NY Innovative Theatre Awards website and cast your vote for our show. Thank you again for being persuaded to hang with us here at GTTP for the last two weeks. We hope to see you in August!

One Week Down…

…and one to go. We’ve had an INCREDIBLE week at The Secret Theatre. The show has been going really well and the production is really coming into its own. My baby’s all grow’d up.

Ok, so here’s the part of the blog post where I get personal. Are you ready? Here it is: So, I don’t have any children of my own. Although I have a pretty decent maternal instinct, and I love my niece and nephews more than anything, I probably won’t be entering into motherhood (which is probably a good thing because, you know, no college tuition bills for me). The thing is, I think I get my fill of parenting with my work. Being a director (and a producer) is like parenting a child who is growing at an accelerated rate. Each and every thing I’ve directed has been, at least for the time I’m working on it, one of my babies. A baby that is born, grows up and moves on all in a matter of weeks – months at the most. And for those weeks or months I’m working on a show, that show is more precious to me than anything else in the world.

Every show starts the same way, you look at all the possibilities. Each show, like a newborn baby, is a blank slate just waiting to be imprinted on or impressed upon. Anything can happen. He can learn to love the color blue or she can learn to hate broccoli. She can become an astronaut or he can drop out of school to follow his favorite jam band around the world. For me it’s the same way, he can tell us about a woman in Cairo in the 1920′s (DREAMERS OF THE DAY) or she can show us a cantilevered house in upstate New York (SKIN FLESH BONE). She can bring us to a real estate open house (FULL DISCLOSURE) or he can take us to Regency England (PERSUASION). But whatever path the show takes it’s bound to be full of expected outcomes and completely unexpected surprises. Each show gives me something different, just as each child brings something different to his or her mother’s table. You watch that baby full of promise take its first steps out into the world and with each step it grows stronger until one day it’s strong enough to walk away from you. For a real parent it’s the goodbye you say when you drop your baby off at school and know nothing will ever be the same again. For me, it’s somewhere around the midpoint of a run. There comes a moment when you just know it’s not yours anymore. That moment when I’ve watched my baby walk away from me – strong and proud but not mine. Now my baby belongs to the cast and to the stage manager, to the running crew and to the audience. I just have to trust, as I watch it find its way without me, that the hands I give it to are good and solid and that while I held my show in my hands, I laid a strong enough foundation in its upbringing for him or her to find a way home.

…and I’m left with the realization that I have only one bittersweet choice ahead of me. It’s getting close to time to say goodbye to this baby and start again with a new one – it’s time for a new show to go on…so I’ll move on to In the Ebb with auditions this week. And I’ll start raising my newest baby, but, in the meantime, I won’t forget this one and I’m sure I’ll have more to say as the week goes on…I mean, who are we kidding, the baby may be growing up but it’s not going to college in Minnesota or anything. It is still right down the street from me, at least for another week. ;)

There are still 7 more shows of Jane Austen’s Persuasion to be seen. Join us at the Secret Theatre this week…before this baby walks away for good.

And, before you celebrate our independence from the British, celebrate the British themselves. Join us for special 1/2 price 4th of July matinee tickets – All seats $9! Go to the ticket purchase page and enter the code “4JUL” to take advantage of the reduced price tickets.

JANE AUSTEN’S PERSUASION has Opened and the Silent Auction has returned!!!!

Jenny Strassburg as Anne Elliot in JANE AUSTEN'S PERSUASION


Jane Austen’s Persuasion has opened!!!

Katharine McLeod as Elizabeth, Dina Ann Comolli as Lady Russell, Jenny Strassburg as Anne and Mark Montague as Sir Walter

…and, I know I’m biased and all but, Guys? Seriously? It’s a beautiful show! I couldn’t be happier with the script, the cast, the tech, the performances and the general spirit of the show. We’ve done three performances so far and the audiences are really enjoying it. Tonight begins our first crazy weekend – four shows in three days and we hope we get to see you all and that you get to see us!

I did want to give you a heads up that we have limited seating for this show – only 36 seats per performance so if you’re thinking of seeing the show this weekend, I HIGHLY recommend you get your tickets online beforehand. If there are seats available, tickets will be available at the box office, but with so few seats, there’s no guarantee.

Watching these first few performances I have been struck by the thought that I have been truly blessed with one of the best casts and crews in professional theater. Throughout the rehearsal process they didn’t bat an eye through crazy blocking choices, dance lessons, tiny backstage space, auxilliary dressing rooms…and any number of little issues that came up during the last 5 weeks…blessed I tell you, absolutely blessed!

Ashley Wickett as Mary Musgrove, Mark Montague as Charles Musgrove and Jenny Strassburg as Anne

I also wanted to mention the return of the silent auction! We still have some items which we are auctioning off (silently) during the run of the show both, in the lobby of the theater and online. If you’d like to take a gander at (or even bid on) an item, take a look at our silent auction page above, or take in the show and bid during intermission. I’ll continue to post updates online and the silent auction will close on the evening of the day of our last show (July 8th). So come on by the theater and take in Jane Austen’s Persuasion!

We’re looking forward to seeing you at The Secret Theatre! To buy tickets for Jane Austen’s Persuasion go here.

Patrick Daniel Smith as Captain Wentworth and Katharine McLeod as Louisa Musgrove


Another Opening, Another Show…


So, we open tomorrow – actually, by the time I post this it will actually be today that we open. But, before we do, I wanted to share some “day before opening” thoughts I had earlier today…

I’m sitting in an empty theater-no actors today since its equity day off-and I’m waiting for a few different crew members to arrive to take care of some last minute things before opening night. A couple of costumes that were being altered are getting dropped off, some finishes to the set are being, well, finished, the programs are being proofed…but in this moment of quiet before the storm, this pause for breath before the opening adrenaline kicks in, one thought keeps going through my head. And that is this – an empty theater is my temple, my church, my holy shrine. It is the place I’m most at home, most comfortable, most peaceful, and most me.

I remember when I was in college, my favorite place on campus was the theater. It was a massive 1500 seat auditorium but when no one was in it and there was just a bare stage with a ghost light, I could sit for hours and soak up the smell of backstage – that mixture of saw dust,  residual hairspray and, yes, sweat–the remnants of thousands of shows, thousands of possibilities and oh how I loved it! I’m not a religious person but there I could pray.

And? It turns out it doesn’t have to be an enormous auditorium for me to feel it. In this little empty black box tonight, with our 36 seats, we’re about to create something (actually we’ve been creating it for 5 weeks) and now we get to show it to you. It’s a rush, it’s a thrill, but more importantly, for me at least, it’s the reason I’m here. Nothing in the world makes quite as much sense to me as this does and I’m pretty sure that’s how most of my cast and crew feel too.

You see, I was thinking the other day that working on a show, if you’re doing it right, is like being on the island of misfit toys. We, none of us, fit in perfectly anywhere as well as we fit in with each other. And we particularly fit in when we create something for you. So we gather in darkened theaters, turn on the lights, and try to make a little magic happen, try to take you, our audience, to Tahiti…or Regency England as the case may be tomorrow. So come on out to The Secret Theatre tomorrow night and for the next two weeks and take the trip with us. This particular misfit thinks you’ll be glad you did.

Jane Austen’s Persuasion opens tomorrow (or actually probably tonight by the time you see this post – either way June 26th) and runs until July 8th. Tickets and details available on the Show and Events Page above or you can buy them here.

Also, if you want a little glimpse of (or more appropriately a listen to) Jane Austen’s Persuasion, check out my interview with the cast and adaptor of the play on the latest episode of Tahiti Dispatches (GTTP’s Podcast Series).

Loaded In…

Before I get into this week’s post, I wanted to just thanks everyone for showing up at our girst gala last weekend. It was a fantastic event filled with food, wine, live music, good company and great dancing…or, at least, enthusiastic dancing. :) And thank you to all of our sponsors. The event was a success because of your generosity!

So, now, on to tech week.

Day started with a realization of how to make a stale bagel taste almost fresh. Here’s how to do it*: Take your stale bagel and microwave it for 15 seconds. Flip it and microwave it again for 15 seconds. Take the bagel out of the microwave, cut it and toast it to desired done-ness. Put whatever topping on it you like and though it has a little bit of that rubbery texture, I challenge you to notice a huge difference between it and a fresh one…that being said, you have to start with a good, high quality bagel. Don’t grab one from dunkin donuts and expect this to work.

*this only works if you like toasted bagels.

Alas, but I digress. No actors today so we just focused on load-in, which went really well:

Costumes came first and have been set up on their rack, ready to be tried on and adjusted at the costume parade tomorrow.

Laura and I cleaned out the backstage and set up the audience into it’s performance configuration (we’re doing something a little different with the seats and we needed to test it out today.) Test went well, looking forward to bringing in the actors.

Sam arrived to start the lighting hang and focus. I’m always amazed watching lighting designers scramble up and down ladders as if there’s nothing remotely uncomfortable about being 15 feet in the air.

Then came Zeljka. We tested the projector and went over notes to make sure we’re all on the same page. It’s getting exciting, people.

Jane came around 5 to pick up costumes that need repairs and alterations and we went through costume stuff together. Tomorrow, she’ll have a new batch of alterations to contend with but we should be in pretty decent shape.

After Jane, in came Ien. She buckled down with Qlab to start getting the cues loaded in. We were doing really well until the speakers turned themselves off, so that’s a problem for tomorrow, definitely.

And finally, Becky arrived, most of the set pieces in hand.  We tested out some paint for the set and got the pieces in place.

All in all, a VERY productive day.

Looking forward to the costume parade and the movement work with Dana tomorrow…not to mention the advances each department will make in their individual techs. And with that…to bed I’m away.

Will try to post another update tomorrow. It’s wild to have so much time for tech…wild and wonderful…but I guess tech is just one of those things – no matter how much time you have, you always want one day more…

Jane herself, responds to our Gala invitation…

Dearest Lady Ammirati,

We are delighted to attend! We are just back from London. I was hardly there a minute before I could feel my morals declining. But I had to see about a dedicaton to HRH the Prince Regent.

At any rate, I have been in a great debate about my wardrobe for your ball. The white linen or the off-white? A cap or flowers? I cannot help thinking that it is more natural to have flowers grow out of the head than fruit. What do you think on the subject?

All at once, I keep telling myself, “You must really get some flounces. Are not some of your large stock of white morning gowns just in a happy state for a flounce?” Will any one attending be wearing flounces?

I was intrigued to learn from Mrs. Tickars’s young lady, to my high amusement, that the stays now are not made to force the bosom up at all; that was a very unbecoming, unnatural fashion. I was really glad to hear that they are not to be so much off the shoulders as they were. A little bit of shoulder can be too much when one passes a certain age. As Fanny Burney says, “In the first pride of youth and beauty, our attention is all upon how we are looked at. But when those begin to be somewhat on the wane – when that barbarous time comes into play, which revenges upon poor miserable woman all the airs she has been playing upon silly man – our ambition, then, is how we are listened to.

I continue quite well; in proof whereof I have bathed again this morning. It was absolutely necessary that I should have the little fever and indisposition which I had: it has been all the fashion this week in Brooklyn! I do mean to go to as many balls as possible but yours shall be very special indeed as I know of no other ball celebrating a novel made into a play. How very fashionable this shall be, quite “de rigeur”!

So, Lady, after assuring you of my good health, I remain your most obedient and humble servant,

Miss Jane Austen


…And what will you be doing Saturday night?

Ha Ha! It was a trick question…

I know that you will be at GTTP’s gala – An Evening with Jane Austen, but just in case it slipped your mind that it was this weekend, or you forgot to buy your ticket, or you accidentally left it off your calendar because you’re afraid – yup that’s right I said it – you’re afraid to man up, tuck your pants into your socks, and come to a regency ball, I wanted to tell you that it’s OK. You do not have to wear a costume. I repeat, you do not have to wear a costume. GTTP is all about the possibilities of theater and of life and it is very possible to not wear a costume and still come to the gala, enjoy some food and wine, dance a little dance, bid at the auction and generally have a good time. It’s good people, good food, good drink, good fun. We hope to see you there. Tickets are still available for purchase online here. But, never fear, you can also buy tickets at the door.

We’ll see you on Saturday! Doors open at 7pm!


What to wear…what to wear…

Have I mentioned that you can get gala tickets here?

Ok, so I know the problem – You’ve been invited to a Regency Ball and, not being British, (or born in 1790), you just don’t have a thing to wear! AHa! I’m here to swoop in to the rescue…so here we go. Ladies first, because that’s easier.

For the Ladies:

Ok, if you are a woman and you are looking to dress for a Regency ball, you need a dress (actually a skirt and top would work too but I’ll go with the dress first and add The Separates Addendum later.) What you need is either an empire waist (high waisted) dress or a dress with no discernible waistline. A maxi dress of any kind (the longer the better) and a ribbon or a scarf or something that you can cinch the dress with. Here is a picture of me in a maxi dress.

Once you have the dress on, take the ribbon and tie it around your waist just under the bust (like this)

Voila! An empire waist dress. And, let me just say, though the empire waist dresses of the time were floor length, don’t worry if yours turns into a cocktail dress length or even a miniskirt. We’re going for the feel of the time not total historical accuracy. Add a shawl (don’t worry if the colors are wilder than you would have seen at the time), put you’re hair up in ribbons or flowers or jewelry:  

pull out your best extravagant jewelry and you’re good to go!



As promised: The Separates Addendum – If you would like to attain the same look with separates, pick a skirt and a top that match. Pull the skirt all the way up to right under your bra. Tuck the shirt into the skirt and tie a wide ribbon around the top of the skirt to hide the join.

Ok, now for the boys:

The boys are a little trickier (seriously you should talk to my costumer about the difficulties) so we’ll have to fudge a bit more but just have a fun with it and you’ll get what I’m going for. Start with the pants. Any pants but jeans will do (and heck, if you want to do it with jeans, who am I to argue with you). You’ll have to imagine these photos are of a gentleman. My gentleman (my husband John for those of you who don’t know him) was late for work and so escaped being the guinea pig for this particular post so, it’s all me. ANYWAY, take the pants and a pair of high sweat socks. Tuck the pants into the sweat socks and pull the socks up as high as they’ll go up to just under the knee. Like so:



For shoes, if you have brown or black dress shoes, they’ll work perfectly, yes, I knowit looks weird to be wearing dress shoes with your sweatsocks but it’s either that or you borrow your wife’s stockings. If you’ve got a pair of boots, you can always wear those instead. Again, since I’m a girl, I can’t put on the men’s dress shoes and make that work, so here’s the outfit with boots.


Get a white button down shirt and tuck it into the pants. Take a tie and tie it like a cravat instead of a tie then basically do all the wrap around stuff but instead of passing the end of the tie through the knot, let it lay on top and pin it.

You’ve got yourself a cravat:

If you have a vest throw it on (I have no vests in the house) and now for the jacket. Take a regular jacket (if you have double-breasted that is best) button up the jacket and take the front two flaps of the jacket and pin them underneath the jacket (or just tuck them into your pants. It’s not perfect but it gives you a sense of tails.)


And, voila! If you have a top hat (And really, who doesn’t have a top hat in their closet) pop that on your head and you’re good to go. You can also feel free to draw on a dastardly mustache (or if you’re actually a man, you know, grow out your own – you’ve got a week. :)

The most important thing is to have fun! See you at the gala…and, if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, you can do so right now, right here.

Updates on Jane’s June…

Ok, so this blog post is a week late. I know I know – you’ve all been breathlessly anticipating an update on all things Tahiti. I can only excuse my absence from the interwebs last week by saying that in the midst of rehearsals for a show based on a book written by the queen of romance I took a week off from fictional romance to participate in real romance. Basically, last week, we added a new member to the Tahiti family – my younger sister Camilla, (whom many of you Tahiti followers know as the playwright of both In the Ebb and Skin Flesh Bone), got married last week and while I was reminiscing about (read: recovering from) an amazing party, I wasn’t in my Persuasion head space. However, a week of rehearsals and gala prep have brought me back to reality and I’m here to give you all some exciting updates!

First off – The Gala

photo by David Green

We have received an RSVP from our very own Jane Austen (actress, writer, teacher, director and producer, Karen Eterovich). Karen, whose production company Love Arm’d Productions focuses on promoting the work of Jane Austen, has written a solo show called Cheer from Chawton: A Jane Austen Family Theatrical.

Karen (seen in the photo here arriving at a different Jane Austen evening) has graciously agreed to step into Jane’s Empire Waist dress for the evening and entertain our gala attendees as Jane Austen. Personally, I’m very excited to see how Jane herself reacts to our modern age and, more interestingly, how we smartphone-toting, twitter-tweeting, facebook-posting moderns are able to blend into Jane’s world.

If you’re interested in learning more about Karen’s performances outside of our Evening with Her, hop on over to her website, here.

Everyone at GTTP, hopes you will join us and Jane for food, drinks, and dancing at our June 16th gala – it may possibly be the event of the season! Although the early bird discount has expired, tickets are still on sale online here and at the door (124 Washington Avenue in Ft. Greene Brooklyn. More details (including directions) on the event itself can be found here. AND, for those of you who really really want to come to the gala but are hesitant because you don’t have a Regency Period outfit in your wardrobe, stay tuned for an upcoming blog post where I show everyone how to dress like a Jane Austen character using clothes you already have in your closet.

Which brings me to:

The show has been cast and rehearsals have begun. The play will feature (in alphabetical order):

Dina Ann Comolli*, Katharine McLeod*, Mark Montague*, Costa Nicholas, Patrick Daniel Smith,

Jenny Strassburg*, Brad Thomason*, Ashley Wickett*

*denotes members of Actors’ Equity Association appearing in an AEA Approved Showcase.

This past week we’ve done a rough block of the whole show and tomorrow we head into a week of character work. I’m excited, with a Jane Austen story so dependent on both relationships and the unspoken, to really delve into what makes these characters tick and see how those little (and I’m sure in some cases big) discoveries affect how we play the scenes when we return to the text next week.

The other big news on the Jane Austen’s Persuasion front is that tickets for the June 26th-July 8th run, are now on sale. As with all of our shows, tickets can be purchased online at our home page, our shows and events page, or by clicking here, by phone at 866-811-4111 and at The Secret Theatre Box Office at 44-02 23rd Street, Long Island City, NY 11101. This production will mark GTTP’s fourth production at The Secret Theatre and our first in the space known as The Little Secret. Can’t wait for y’all to see it.

And, just because I think it’s so awesome and our designer Christine Diaz did SUCH an amazing job on our images, I’d like to leave you with our Jane Austen-ized version of the tahiti logo. Enjoy!


getting unFRAMED…

So, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, thanks to TRU, I have been interning for Broadway Producer, Jane Dubin. Jane is one of the producers on current hit play, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. And let me just say, if you haven’t seen this 9-Tony-Award-Nominated play, you should get out there and see it – it’s MAGICAL!!! Anyway, in addition to being a producer on PatSC, Jane is also the Executive Producer of the powerful one-man-show, unFRAMED – A Man In Progress, about poet, painter and playwright Iyaba Ibo Mandingo.

unFRAMED is Jane’s show that I have been helping out on and it is has been amazing to be a part of the experience. “So, what’s the show about?” you ask. I’ll let the website tell you:

“Meet Iyaba Ibo Mandingo, formerly Kenny Athel George DeCruise – painter, poet, husband, father, son, and undocumented immigrant from Antigua.  At the age of eleven, Iyaba is plucked from the tropical comfort of his boyhood and taken to life in America where he must navigate his way to manhood without the guidance of a father.  Using canvas, paint, poetry, prose and song, Iyaba tells us a story of his transformation from “Mommy Me No Wanna Go Merrica”- a prophetic piece that hints at the many trials he will face in a new land – to his powerful political poetry that would lead to his arrest and attempted deportation in post 9/11 America.  Throughout the play Iyaba shares his rage, his determination, and his hope while he paints his self portrait and successfully struggles to redefine his humanity, rediscover his smile, and truly accept himself for the first time.”

In the last few years, I’ve become a real fan of solo performances. As I’m sure you’re aware, what I love most about theater are the possibilities the medium allows for. With words and movement and not much else, a theater artist can create whatever he or she wants on stage. And, in some ways I feel that solo perfomances are theater in its purest form. You can’t get much more pure than one person on a stage, just telling a story. During the course of unFRAMED, Iyaba doesn’t just tell a powerful story that draws you in, he paints a picture for you…I mean he literally paints a picture – a self portrait – right before your eyes. Watching the play is like getting a glimpse into the creative process at the same time you get to just sit back and listen to a riveting story. It’s an incredible experience and one I highly recommend partaking in. And, thanks to unFRAMED‘s place in the soloNOVA Festival running 6/4-6/16 you have 5 chances to see it. unFRAMED will have performances on June 4th, 9th, 10th, 13th and 16th – though I know no one reading this blog will be able to make the last performance as you will all be at GTTP’s Gala Event – An Evening with Jane Austen. Luckily there are still 4 other opportunities to see unFRAMED. For tickets go to

I’ll be back in a couple of days with an update on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. We have a cast, who I’d like you all to meet, and we will be starting rehearsals today! Actually in about 2.5 hours. Gala tickets are still available at the early bird rate.

Get your tix now!





An Exciting Announcement…

Ok, so I’m going to take a short break from Persuasion news to make an exciting announcement but first I wanted to remind everyone that the early bird discount for tickets to our gala will be in effect for TWO more days. Get your tickets here.

So, on to the exciting announcement: This has been in the works for awhile now but I can FINALLY announce our next mainstage show. So, first we have Jane Austen’s Persuasion which will run in late June (hey, did I mention there’s a gala too? Tickets are available here) and then we’ve got In The Ebb, our Fringe show (read about that here).

Then, our next mainstage production will be (I feel like there should be a drumroll here so imagine that’s happening) an original adaptation of the novel Within Arm’s Reach by Ann Napolitano.

From Ms. Napolitano’s website: “Within Arm’s Reach charts the emotional life of three generations of an Irish Catholic family. Shaken reluctantly into self-examination by the unexpected pregnancy of its youngest member, the McLaughlin family is forced to confront ghosts of both past and present, and to re-appraise its values in a world of rapid change.

Narrated through six subjective first person accounts – the pregnant Gracie, her sister Lila, their parents, their matriarchal grandmother, and a family outsider with a curious connection – the novel dissects the markedly variant responses that such supposedly similar people can have to the same events.

An honest tale of interconnected lives, Within Arm’s Reach shows us that the ‘ties that bind’ are a source of both solace and of pain – at once a curse, a lifeline, an irritant and a cure – they are ultimately unavoidable and indelible.”

It’s a gorgeous novel, beautifully written, and I highly recommend picking it up and taking a look for yourself before we get the adaptation up on its feet. (In fact, I recommend you do that now so that it won’t be quite so fresh in your mind when you see the show and you notice all those little things I needed to change while adapting it for the stage). I am THRILLED to start working on the adaptation and delve into the lives of these amazing, intriguing, flawed, relatable, lovely, fascinating characters. Also worth a read is Ann’s second novel A Good Hard Look. The adaptation of that novel would have been much more difficult though, as I don’t have the budget to put live peacocks on stage…see, now you’re totally intriqued, right? That was my intention. Get thee to Ann’s website to get clarification and to pick up some great reading material.

And, hand in hand with our Within Arm’s Reach announcement (and I do want to apologize in advance if during the next 6 months of promotion that apostrophe ends up after the ‘s’ – I’ve caught myself putting it in the wrong place several times during grant applications and I live in terror of sending something out with it in the wrong place. That, and adding an ‘e’ to Ann’s name. Another thing I live in horror of doing because right now, I’m working on a show (Jane Austen’s Persuasion (gala tickets here)) where the main character’s name is Anne with an ‘e’ so with all the stuff floating in my head I’m concerned I’ll mix up the Anne/Anns or put that apostrophe at the end of Arms – Arms’. I’m probably guaranteed to do it but writing this here will hopefully keep it from happening. And, although I’m gonna try my best not to allow it to happen, just in case, I do want to apologize in advance to Ann if it does.)

ANYWHO…hand in hand with our Within Arm’s Reach announcement I would also like to announce that Going to Tahiti Productions has been awarded its first grant! Thank you Puffin Foundation for your support of Within Arm’s Reach. PuffinFoundation is a wonderful organization that, well, they say it best themselves…from “The Puffin Foundation Ltd. has sought to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy. Why the Puffin? The Puffin, once endangered in the northeastern United States, was returned to its native habitats through the efforts of a concerned citizenry. Our name is a metaphor for how we perceive our mission in the arts: to join with other concerned groups and individuals to ensure that the arts not merely survive, but flourish at all levels of our society.” Within Arm’s Reach will now definitely happen because funding has been made possible by the Puffin Foundation. Thank you thank you thank you, Puffin! And can I just say, after growing up with PBS and hearing that phrase “funding has been made possible” during so many broadcasts I don’t think I can fully describe the thrill it gives me to be able to say that for one of my projects “funding has been made possible” by someone who doesn’t even know me but who read my proposal and thought, “yeah, that sounds cool. Let’s give her some money.” Seriously?!?! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, Puffin!!!

Phew! Ok, so, yeah, that’s the news. I promised you exciting so there you have it. I’ll be back next week with the cast announcements for Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Oh, and did I mention our gala? An Evening with Jane Austen? On June 16th at 7pm at MIMA Brooklyn? No? Well you can get tickets here and for two more days the early bird ticket price is still available. Buy Tickets Now!


We’re on the Fringe, baby!

Ok, so all you eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I missed last week’s post. I do apologize. A wonderful trip to a friend’s wedding in Los Angeles meant some of my regular duties fell by the wayside. That being said, there were some interesting and exciting developments during the last two weeks – if that’s what happens when I go away, maybe I should go on hiatus more often…

They say good things come to those who wait…what they don’t mention is that in addition to having the patience to wait for the good thing (whatever it may be) you also have to bust your a**. So for the last few months I’ve been putting in some serious leg work to take GTTP to the next level and it looks like that leg work is starting to pay off. Here’s what’s been happening in Tahiti…

First off, this didn’t happen in the last two weeks but I’m still so stoked about it that I figured I’d mention it again – I got to interview Melanie Jones! Check out our podcast interview with creator and performer, Melanie Jones.

Secondly, our JUNE 16th Gala Event, An Evening with Jane Austen, is starting to come together. We’ve got a commitment for appetizers from the amazing Brooklyn Restaurant . If you are a New Yorker and are unfamiliar with this Williamsburg restaurant, you are in for a treat. Every time I have eaten there the food has been exquisite. The place has a great atmosphere, terrific food, and fantastic drinks. Definitely check them out if you’re looking for a place to eat in Williamsburg, or, even better, check them out when you’re at the gala. Did I mention, you can get tickets to the Gala here.

And, we’ll be serving beer from . I know, not exactly Jane Austen fare, but they had beer back then, right? So what if it wasn’t Brooklyn Brewery beer. Their loss is our gain. Brooklyn is representing! And for those non-beer drinkers, never fear, there will also be wine.

Thirdly, today was the first day of auditions for Jane Austen’s Persuasion! The cast is starting to take shape and if all goes according to plan (keep your fingers crossed that all goes according to plan) we should have a cast announcement in next week’s blog post!

Fourthly, (is that a word), we got some awesome news from  This exciting and prestigious international theater festival has selected a version of GTTP’s very first show, In The Ebb, by Camilla Ammirati, to be a part of this year’s festival. Performances will be this summer in a theater in Manhattan – that’s right all you Manhattanites who have been saying, “I would totally go see a GTTP show but I don’t do Queens” – this AUGUST you’ll get your chance!!! More details will be posted on the website as they happen…and for more info on the NYC Fringe Festival itself, check out their page here.

AND, last but not least, I have a VERY exciting announcement regarding our fall/winter show…but you’ll have to wait to hear it for another week or so. Sorry, hate to cliffhang y’all but until the ink is dry on some paperwork, the (official) exciting announcement will have to wait. But seriously, guys, it’s awesome! You’ll definitely want to check back for deets soon!

…oh, and did I mention, tickets for the gala are on sale here. Also, for another week you can get them for the Early Bird reduced rate of $60 – use code GEB.

GalaTicketsGalaTicketsGalaTickets Buy gala tickets now! GalaTicketsGalaTicketsGalaTickets


A Site Visit, A Reading and A Meeting…

Exciting few days in Tahiti…

Saturday began with a site visit to MIMA (the site for our GALA Event – An Evening with Jane Austen – Oh, did I mention, tickets now on sale here!!!! – It’s a BEAUTIFUL space, y’all. I can’t wait for you to see it. Me and my Fundraising Coordinator, the incomparable Shanai Jensen, went to the space to plan some specifics about the event. You know, like “food will go here, silent auction there, drinks here, dance lesson there.”  Step by step it’s all starting to come together. We also discovered (thanks to the construction on the G train) that there is an INCREDIBLY simple way to get from Greenpoint/Williamsburg to MIMA and it is the B62 Bus. It stops literally half a block from the space so for those of you who are looking to take public transpo and don’t want to walk from the G (or if the MTA decides to do more construction on the G line on June 16th) the B62 is the way to go!

Following the site visit, Shanai and I headed to the Secret Theatre, where a group of actors, Tahitians, and friends volunteered to read the working script for Laura Bultman, our genius adapter, to hear out loud. It was a fun and helpful excercise for a certain director (that would be me) as well.

It’s amazing how a script can be so clear on the page and so different once the lines are read out loud. Thanks to this reading, Laura will be able to make final revisions to the script before we head into auditions and onward to rehearsals.

After the weekend’s activities, today I sat down with the stage manager and a few of the designers in our first official Jane Austen’s Persuasion Production Meeting. We got to take a look at the performance space and get a jump on initial ideas. It’s funny, even though the script is still going through revisions, there’s still much to be done. Somewhere in the last two weeks a switch was thrown from “lots of time to get everything done” to “not enough time to get anything done.” It’s amazing how fast that happens.

Speaking of lots to do…I should go, you know, do it…

Thanks for checking in!

I know! Let’s throw a GALA!!!!

So, as many of you know by now (and can see on our home page), the Gala has been scheduled!!!! June 16th we Tahitians (and hopefully all of you) will gather in Fort Greene, Brooklyn (and no mom, Ft. Greene is no longer a scary unsafe neighborhood – it’s too gentrified and filled with yuppies to be unsafe – it may still be scary – but that depends on how you feel about yuppies) to celebrate GTTP and Jane Austen and to get ready for our performance of Persuasion the adaptation of which Tahitian, Laura Bultman, is working on even as I type. The GTTP GALA committee is still nailing down the specifics, but we know date (June 16th), time (7-11pm) and location (MIMA Brooklyn – 174 Washington Avenue, Ft. Greene).

It’s funny, ever since I started GTTP, I’ve wanted to throw a gala. I remember when I first moved to NY I had the opportunity to go to a gala at The Guggenheim Museum and it was a magical night. There was food and music and wine and even though my date backed out at the last moment, I still had an excuse to get dressed up and wander through the museum after hours – granted it was with a few hundred strangers – but, it made me feel so sophisticated and grown up. In some small way, I was a part of the New York arts community. I was new to the city and a little bit adrift in terms of my theater work, but an arts gala was just the thing to inspire me again. Twelve years later, when I started GTTP, I wanted our first event to be a gala but at the time, we didn’t have the community big enough for a big event. Finally, almost 4 years and 5 and a half shows later, we’re ready to do it. We are starting small – limited to 70 people – and we’re still figuring it out as we go, but it should be a really fun night. (Like I said, not quite the Guggenheim – MIMA Brooklyn is only one floor and it doesn’t have curved walls – but a fun night all the same.)

Here are the definites we know so far: there will be food of some kind (we’re aiming for a mixture of some hors d’oeuvres and some desserts), some wine (not sure what yet), and some dancing (we’ll be doing at least some Regency Dance lessons for our guests so you too can feel like you’re a part of Jane Austen’s world) – hopefully to a life band, but that’s still being worked out. We’re also putting together a silent auction with a mixture of really great items. Our plan is to launch the silent auction a month before the GALA and then continue it through the event. (So stay tuned for details on the items.) The auction will close at the gala, an hour before the end of the evening and we’ll anounce the winners (who will be able to pick up their items) at that time. Also, since our adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion opens on June 26th (a mere 10 days after the gala), at the party we’ll have a short preview perfromance to give everyone a chance to see what to expect during the run of the show.

Oh…there’s another VERY IMPORTANT thing…and that is the evening’s attire. As attendees you’re welcome to stick with just modern semi-formal dress (you’ll still be welcome at the event) but, for the more adventurous of you (or at least those of you who have access to a costume shop), GTTP suggests you come to the gala in Regency period dress. So, corsets and Empire waist dresses for the ladies and coats and riding breeches for the men. Most of the Tahitians in the crowd (at least most of the female Tahitians (as the male costumes are harder to come by)) will all be in costume. And don’t worry if it’s not perfect, the costume thing is just meant for us all to have some fun. Even if you only have part of a costume, we hope you get into the spirit of night and wear it to accentuate the rest of your clothes.

In case you’re wondering, tickets for the gala will go on sale here on the website starting April 20th. Gala tickets will be $75/person, but there will be an early rate so all tickets purchased before May 16th will be $60/person.

…oh, and one last thing – there may be a special guest so like I said above, stay tuned for more details.


Yeah, sorry, I couldn’t resist using that blog title. Also, I’m sorry this post is so late. I blame it on the wonderful Easter weekend at home. AMAZING time but it meant I spent the weekend hanging with my family instead of writing this post…enough with excuses, Ammirati, on to the review…

Ok, so just a Spoiler Alert – heads up. If you don’t want to know anything at all about the show, you may not want to read the full review below. I mean it’s not like I’m giving a blow by blow of the plot or anything (the butler did it. Heh.) but I do discuss some detials that you might want to avoid. So, if you hate anything with even a whisp of a spoiler about it you’ll want to stop reading after this paragraph. If you want the spoiler-free version of the review here it is: Go see Peter and the Star Catcher!!!! It’s awesome and magical and well worth your time and money. Tickets available here. For the less spoiler-averse read on…

So, as part of my association with TRU, I have been interning with Broadway producer Jane Dubin, on her off-Broadway show, unFRAMED (which after a short successful run in Philly, is returning to NY June 4th – 16th as part of the soloNOVA Festival. For details and tickets go here.) In addition to her work on unFRAMED, Jane is also one of the Co-Producers for the new Broadway show, Peter and the Star Catcher and she was able to get me a ticket to see one of the preview performances last week. Written by Rick Elice and based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Star Catcher tells the story of how a sad orphan boy becomes Peter Pan. Peter and the Star Catcher is directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers and stars Christian Borle (Black Stache), Celia Kennan-Bolger (Molly) and Adam Chanler-Berat (Boy/Peter) and it is a wonderful, hilarious, and thoroughly enjoyable show. Similar to the experience of a Pixar movie, the play is appropriate for young audiences (10 and up) but is also a hilarious and moving experience for adults as well.

The play is great fun from start to finish but the thing that stood out the most for me was the inventiveness and originality of the staging. I’ve seen my share of both theater and movies and I love both mediums for their ability to entertain in completely different ways. But, what I love most about theater is that, necessity being the mother of all invention, theater requires an audience to use their imaginations in ways that film does not. In my own directing, I love, during a rehearsal, when a moment that seemed all but impossible on the page, comes to life in an unexpected and beautiful way. Like turning 5 actors and 2 chairs into a mob attacking a car on a Cairo street as we did in Dreamers of the Day, or turning a stack of used books and 5 actors into a slow motion book ballet as we did in Skin Flesh Bone. Peter and the Star Catcher is filled with moments like these. Without any high tech tricks or special effects, the creative team manages to bring the audience onto 3 separate ships sailing the high seas (both on deck and below), to the forest of a tropical island (complete with trees and sandy beaches), and into the depths of a magical pond (populated by mermaids). Using simple sets and props the cast members believably create a sense of movement and space at the same time they’re able to clearly define the various locations the story takes them to. And, all of the “special effects” in the play are executed not by feats of engineering but by choreographed movement, lighting and sound effects. Ingenius and yet simple techniques that make the play come to life create the magic of theater making the audience believe – fully believe – what they’re seeing on stage. The Peter and the Star Catcher team even manages to levitate an actress during the show – it’s a pretty cool effect (the secret of which I will not reveal here) – and though I figured it out, my knowledge of how they did it in no way diminished my enjoyment of watching it be done. Along the way the 12 actors introduce close to 100 different characters some of whom are familiar to fans of the original Peter Pan (I myself couldn’t wait to meet Tinkerbell and I wasn’t disappointed). The creativity of the staging isn’t just amazing, it’s inspiring (especially for this director).

The performers (actors and musicians, as there is some music in the play) are all clearly having a good time and their fun is infectious as they draw the audience into the party. All of the actors in the show are amazing, but I’d like to call specific attention to Celia Keenan-Bolger and Christian Borle. Celia Keenan-Bolger plays the precocious 13 year old, Molly. Learning to be a Star Catcher like her father, Molly befriends young Peter and is the first to play the “mothering” role for The Lost Boys that will, in later incarnations of the Peter Pan story, be played by the character Wendy. The Molly character requires a very difficult mixture of youth and maturity balancing moments of childish excitement and wonder with the strength and drive of an older woman and Ms. Keenan-Bolger strikes that balance with skill and grace. And, Christian Borle (in my opinion criminally underused in the television show SMASH) revels in the devilish fun of playing Black Stache (the pirate villain who will become Captain Hook) and takes the audience along for the hilarious ride. He tears into the role with great enthusiasm and it is an absolute blast to watch. Top to bottom, the play is a joy but don’t think that means it’s light on substance. As with the Peter Pan story the themes of abandonment and loss and fear of growing up are present and very real. They’re just a little hidden for the younger members of the audience and I only wish my niece and nephew (the 9 year old not the 18 month old) lived closer so that I could take them along to join in the fun. And it is great fun…for ALL ages. So, yeah, in case you can’t tell Peter and the Star Catcher is an INCREDIBLY entertaining show and I HIGHLY recommend seeing it.

Peter and the Star Catcher currently in previews, opens April 15th at The Brooks Atkinson Theatre 256 West 47th Street. For tickets and more details go to the show’s website here.