Category Archives: WITHIN ARM’S REACH

Reach Beyond the Reachable…

As many of you know, I recently moved from one part of Brooklyn to another. Finally, with Within Arm’s Reach done for now, and with The Jane Games entering the editing phase, (and so taking less of my time), I’ve begun to unpack. And, as part of that unpacking, my ridiculously supportive (and super patient) husband requested that I sort through the 5 bankers boxes worth of memorabilia that I have moved from place to place over the past 10 years (in all fairness the 5 boxes started as 1 very small shoebox) and get rid of that which I “can’t remember the origin or emotional significance of.” Turns out, there was a lot to discard…but it also turns out sometimes being a packrat pays off. Especially when the stuff is from before the days of regular email, Facebook, and smartphones recording immediate photographs of every event. So, yes, I discarded a lot (like, 4 bankers boxes worth) but I also found some beautiful treasures, one that I want to share…

Some of you know of my Uncle Johnny, the artist who inspired me as an artist but also the inspiration for the name Going to Tahiti Productions (you can read that story here), and some of you actually knew him when he was still alive. He was a pretty cool guy — though not a talkative one (like me, he didn’t really enjoy talking on the phone, though, on occasion when we got to talking about a movie or book that we liked (or hated) the conversation would be animated and would go long into the night) — but letter writing was pretty much how we communicated. I would periodically send him a long letter about what I was up to and he would send me a card or a book or a note back to check in. But, whatever the letters or cards or notes or books contained, he always had some words of wisdom from an older artist to a younger. It didn’t matter that his medium was paint and mine was actors. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t making money with his art either, and that he knew that struggle wasn’t easy. It didn’t matter that he was 3000 miles away and we, East Coast Family, rarely got to see him. There were always encouraging words…we were always going to Tahiti.

So, while going through the memorabilia boxes, I came across this note card from Uncle Johnny. It doesn’t have a date and the envelope with a postmark is long since gone (even in my packrat ways, I did find a way to throw out envelopes from people who’s addresses I already had), but I think it’s from the mid-late 90′s. The note starts off, in response to a letter I sent him, “I…hope you are working 20 hrs/day and living off of adrenaline, intuition, and the euphoria that is show business/production.” And continues, “yes; bizarre, surreal, weird, monsters, religion, love: It must be Art.” Judging from that, I think I (and he in his response) was referring to the first movie I was a PA on in the city (ah, my days as a Production Assistant…another story all together). So that would put it in early ’96, after Atlanta but before I was officially living in the city. But, I digress…

I must have been philosophizing in my letter to him, because he goes on: “I also see that you have turned your predicament into philosophy (more Art, I’m so proud of you). Getting paid is the next evolution – no pay, some pay, now and then pay, low pay, little pay, more pay, steady pay…” The man knew of what he spoke. And then, this:

“Give the best you have, always keep learning, grow with each project, hang tough, Dream, reach beyond the reachable, be true to yourself – good things will happen.”

So, GTTP is following Uncle Johnny’s advice. After Molly’s current directing gig, I, Salome, she’ll be jumping in to Tahiti’s next show – a beyond words theater piece that is, right now, just beginning to take shape. And me? I’m jumping in full force to Farm Story, GTTP’s first foray into television. Regular updates are happening, well, regularly, here – primarily from writer and co-producer, Terri Viani (and occasionally from me), but basically, what you need to know is: our production calendar is set, crew interviews start tomorrow, fundraising is about to begin in earnest, auditions will start in late June, and, if all goes according to plan, cameras will roll on September 6th! It’s big…who am I kidding, it’s HUGE! It’s overwhelming. It’s scary. It’s new. It’s crazy. It’s television. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about. It’s utterly terrifying. BUT, I’m jumping off the cliff. I’m taking Uncle Johnny’s advice – I’m giving the best I have, learning and growing with each project, hanging tough, dreaming, reaching beyond the reachable, being true to myself…Get ready, folks, because here come the good things – Uncle Johnny said so. :)

 

What? Molly Is FINALLY Writing Her Within Arm’s Reach Blogpost!

Now that it has been a month since Within Arm’s Reach opened at the Secret Theatre, I feel like I can finally post my wrap-up without conveying with every word my stress about the show (I swear it was written long ago and not today). I didn’t want to pass the stress on to the audience or cast…or that is my excuse for this taking that long to post.

How can you be stressed when “Huhhhh” our mascot is around?

Those of you that know me are probably wondering: “Why so stressed, Molly? You’ve been working in theatre with multiple titles for the same project for nearly ten years now.” Perhaps this is true, but this is the first time I’d attempted to have four titles for a show. Although, Jess and I had always talked about me coming on to her “baby” project of Within Arm’s Reach as co-adapter and co-producer,  by the time we had an audience I was also set and costume designer.   That being said, stress was abundant in my life for this production as there are not enough hours in the day.

The entire process start to finish was very quick. Jess and I really didn’t get our hands dirty with the adaption until January and we opened in mid-March. Did I mention I’ve never adapted a novel into a script before? What would I do without Jess? It’s a question I asked during this process qite a bit. Adapting was a process that I had a love/hate relationship with at the beginning. Currently, those of you who saw our last production The Sandman’s Coming know this, I’m in a place where my biggest theatrical interest is exploring story telling without an abundance of words (or what I’m starting to coin as Beyond Words Theatre). Within Arm’s Reach was words, a lot of beautiful words. It was daunting to say the least.  It was fascinating to learn the parts of the story that Jess was very drawn to verse what I was.

Who said producers aren’t busy during tech?

Fast-forward through casting and  I suddenly realized, “Oh, right. I’m designing. Maybe I should start that.” It’s been a bit since I’ve costume designed a piece that I wasn’t also directing (I originally went to university for  costume design), so I was thrilled to jump right back in with this. Jess and I have worked together in so many ways, however, I can’t say I wasn’t nervous for our first director/designer show. Made even worse by the fact that I was designing the set as well as costumes.  Part of what makes Jess and I a great team is how differently we work. The rest of our design team got this a lot during tech. What’s the verdict on Jess as director and me as designer?  I would happily design for any show that Jess directed!

Within Arm’s Reach brought out one of my initial reasons for getting involved in theatre. The community of artists that is formed during a show, however fleeting, is beautiful. From late night/early mornings painting  the theater with Jess, to character chats with the cast, to listening to Ien morph the sounds of children; we had a truly wonderful group for this one.

This is all to say that sometimes, stress and being in a slightly uncomfortable situation end up creating a product that, at the end of the day, you are thrilled with. Of course though, it’s not ALL about me. Within Arm’s Reach would not have been the same without the wonderful cast, crew, donors, and audience we had and I can’t say THANK YOU enough to everyone involved. But, really, can I sleep now?

Cat napping at the tech table.

Disclaimer: Any grammar/spelling mistakes were made to keep John on his toes!

Wrapping up WITHIN ARM’S REACH…

I know I’ve been a bit silent on the blog lately…the combination of temporarily shifting the blog posts to the Rockethub page and the end of the show itself (followed by the post show depression that always accompanies that) have lead to a real dearth of posts here on our main blog. But, fear not, gentle readers. I’m back and with me so are the blog posts. SO, let me do a little wrap up on Within Arm’s Reach, and then I’ll get to what’s next.

As far as the wrap up is concerned, Within Arm’s Reach was a dream. Despite, a short tech (and a tall projection area), a big stage (and a small budget), too many technical cues (and too few technicians), a large cast (and a tiny dressing room…(I kid, the dressing room was nice sized for the group and had its own bathroom)), but seriously despite a bunch of things that seemed like they would be stumbling blocks to getting the show off the ground, the performances soared. I’m going to take a moment here to pat ourselves on the back  (and then I’ll return to the modest, humble, Jess that I know you all love) –  Molly and I did a damn fine job with the adaptation – capturing the spirit, mood and characters of the book. And, across the board, the cast was superb. They took these characters and ran with them, creating a moving study of 6 months in the lives of the McLaughlin Family. The designers, again working with very little time, (and even less money), brought the world vividly to life and did so with smiles on their faces. And directing this bunch – cast and crew – was a pleasure from top to bottom. I will also say that though there were stresses (there always are during tech) and though there were a couple of all-nighters (that’s to be expected with a 3 day tech) the tech “week” for Within Arm’s Reach was quite possibly the smoothest and most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced. And, because I can’t resist, I’m just going to mention that this was an all female creative team…short on time and money and absolutely no (zero, zip, zilch) strife…could it be the all female group? I leave it to you to be the judge…

So, yeah, the show went beautifully. We’re putting together a real photo array, but, in the meantime, for those of you who didn’t get a chance to see the show, below is a selection of production stills…

Do I wish we had had larger audiences? Yes, as always, yes. Do I wish we had been able to bring in a bit more money with the show? Again, yes, as always, yes. But I also know the world we’re in. I know that original work on the stage is tough to bring an audience to. I know that low budget means there isn’t always money for the massive publicity push of a larger show and so we’ll keep doing what we’re doing (the slowest of slow builds) and know that if the work is consistently good, eventually the audience will find us, and keep coming back…that and know that our next big payday we’re hiring the marketer of all marketers to get more butts in the seats!

Alas though, now this show is ended. The props have been stowed. The set pieces are safely ensconced in Molly and my apartments. The costumes have been cleaned and stored. The bills have been paid. …and the depression has set in for real…so now what? Now, Molly and I strategize about what’s next. While we are both working on projects separate from GTTP – Molly, on a workshop production of I, Salome by Joseph Samuel Wright and me on The Jane Games, the web series by Jennifer Teska and Laura Riley, that I’m directing (on which I’m about to jump into the editing stage) – we’re also planning what’s next for GTTP. As always, GTTP is moving forward – onward and upward to the next project. And that next theatrical production will most likely be a new movement/theater piece from Molly, hopefully to be performed in June and for me, I will soon be jumping (and taking GTTP with me) completely into Farm Story, GTTP’s first foray into web series production. If all goes according to plan, we will start filming in September. In addition to that, Molly and I are looking to do another round of workshops and hopefully a reading series of new plays. Stay tuned for details!!!

And, once again, because I didn’t say this yet in this specific blog post – THANK YOU, ALL!!! Thank you for supporting GTTP! Thank you for coming out to see our work. Thanks to everyone who made it out for Within Arm’s Reach. Thanks to everyone who donated on RocketHub and directly. Thank you for being a part of the GTTP Family. Without you all, GTTP would be nothing and me? I’d just be directing traffic…and seriously? That’s one thing I have no interest in directing.

WITHIN ARM’S REACH is now within arm’s reach…

Yeah, I know, I just couldn’t help it – I mean that title just called to me…and I will totally use it again and again and again…

In all seriousness though, I wanted to give a quick status update on WAR!

UPDATE ON CAST

As often happens in showcase productions we had some changes in our cast during the first week of rehearsals. We now have a new Gracie, a Lila switcheroo, and a new Woman 1. The new cast is as follows:

CATHARINE……..Mary Anisi*
GRACIE……………….Lucinda Rogers*
LILA…………………..Kassianni Austin*
WEBER……………….Luke Wise
WOMAN 1……………Erin Evers*
WOMAN 2……………Alyssa Simon*
WOMAN 3……………Sheila Stasack*
MAN 1…………………Michael Bryan Hill*
MAN 2…………………John L. Payne*

We were bummed to lose two cast members but are so excited to have Lucinda and Erin joining us. So, we’ve now had a full cast and crew for about a week and a half and in the next two weeks we’ll be doing a whole “Meet the cast and crew” dealio on FB or on the blog (haven’t decided which yet) so you’ll get a chance to know everyone a little more before seeing them on opening night.

UPDATE ON REHEARSALS

We’ve spent the last two weeks doing script revisions and table work. As far as script revisions go, I am now cautiously optimistic in declaring the script “pretty much locked”. Yeah, I’m not going to say it is hard-core-locked-down-and-there-won’t-be-a-single-other-change (I’ve learned that lesson before), but I’m confident in saying that there shouldn’t be any more major changes. As is the case when you’re workshopping a show, there’s always the chance in rehearsals, as the show gets on its feet, that adjustments will get made and changes will happen; and I’m fully expecting that to be the case here. However, the likelihood that we’ll cut an entire scene or add a new four page monologue, diminishes with every moment that passes. As far as table work is concerned, this is one of my favorite parts of the rehearsal process. For those of you not familiar with table work, this is a time in rehearsal, where the actors and director and stage manager (and if you’re lucky the writer) sit around a table and talk…yup, it’s glamourous stuff, folks…but seriously we sit around the table and discuss the show – who are these people? what are their weaknesses? what are their strengths? what do they want? what are they afraid of? how do they relate to each other? All of this is a crucial part of what the show will be and this, at least on a Jessica Ammirati directed show, is our first chance to discover the answers to those questions. Today, however, we get on our feet for the first time and we start to block the show. Another favorite part for me…who are we kidding, they’re ALL my favorite parts. :)

UPDATE ON TICKETS

It’s official, tickets are on sale now!!! I repeat TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW!!!! You can purchast tickets here, or you can call 866-811-4111. Only 12 performances so be sure to purchase early to be guaranteed a seat.

UPDATE ON PRODUCTION

So, postcards are being printed. Props are being purchased/built. Set pieces are being purchased/built. Costumes are being gathered. Projections are being filmed and created. Sound and lights are being designed…the show is beginning to come together…and…in order to pay for all of this, well, number 1 – did you see? TICKETS ARE ON SALE!!!!! and number 2 a Rockethub campaign is about to launch. More details shortly, but I will say, we’re looking at some fun rewards and a generally fun campaign. And, since this show is all about family connections, we hope YOU will join the Within Arm’s Reach family.

Ok, that’s it for now. More updates to follow…

-Jess

 

Busy couple of weeks for Tahiti…

Ok, so when you think of Tahiti, you don’t think of trudging through the snow and the cold or of hunkering down around the heat of the computer screen to type your little heart out with numb fingers. No. No you don’t. You think of beaches and tropical breezes, drinks with umbrellas, and palm trees . . . alas, in wintery New York it was definitely more of the former than the latter, including a snowy day of callbacks where we trudged through the show to see a bunch of very talented actors (who also trudged through the snow – THANK YOU AGAIN, those of you who came and read for us on Monday) read. Anywho, as I said in the title of this post, it’s been a busy couple of weeks for Tahiti…

Posted on Twitter – Written word representations of my 3 current projects – The FARM STORY-book (a gift my sister gave me of a book from the late forties full of farm stories for children), the novel of WITHIN ARM’S REACH, and the shooting script for THE JANE GAMES.

Not only did I just get back from an amazing location-scouting-meet-the-community-Farm-Story-pre-production meeting in Virginia last week, not only am I about to jump back into filming for The Jane Games, but I also just held auditions and callbacks for Within Arm’s Reach and we have cast the show. That’s right folks, we are full steam ahead with WAR (and, yes, that is how I will be abbreviating it because it takes a lot less time to type than the full title and I will be typing it a LOT in the next couple of months. Besides, it’s a family drama so in a way it is about war . . .) So, three updates follow and then I’ll get back to the business of the 3 productions I have going on.

#1) Terri and I, in discussing the logistics of Farm Story, decided that it made sense to film in and around Staunton, Virginia. The script calls for rural and small town locations and Terri, who’s brother lives in VA had seen this wonderful area that offered the promise of everything we need. So, we decided to go down there and check it out. And as I mentioned above, last week I returned from that trip – a four day Virginia visit, during which Terri and I did location scouting, met with some locals and generally got a feel for the area. Check out the last two posts on the Farm Story blog to hear all about what our Virginia trip accomplished and what’s next for Farm Story. It’s really starting to heat up, it’s all very exciting and we can’t wait to have you join us on the web-series-production journey.

#2) This weekend, I jump back into The Jane Games. We have a day of filming on Saturday and then four days of filming next week, and then another few days during February and March . . . and then of course, we go into the editing room. I’m excited to jump back in though by late next week, I might need someone to just shout out the title of the project I’m working on before I step into whatever I’m doing each day, just so I can keep it all straight and not talk about the changing structure of family through the generations when I’m shooting a web series about Jane Austen or launch into a full description of Farm Story themes when we I’m up to my ears in table work on WAR. 

. . . which brings me to . . .

#3) Within Arm’s Reach – so, as I mentioned above, we held auditions and callbacks for WAR this past week and I’m THRILLED to announce that we have a cast and a crew. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be doing “Meet theWAR Team” posts but in the meantime, I’ll just get the names out there:

Within Arm’s Reach - Cast

CATHARINE…………Mary Anisi*
GRACIE……………….Kassianni Austin*
LILA…………………..Katie Stults
WEBER……………….Luke Wise
WOMAN 1……………Jennifer Laine Williams*
WOMAN 2……………Alyssa Simon*
WOMAN 3……………Sheila Stasack*
MAN 1…………………Michael Bryan Hill*
MAN 2…………………John L. Payne*

Within Arm’s Reach - Crew

Director/Adaptor/Producer…..……………….Jessica Ammirati
Adaptor/Producer/Production Designer…….Molly Ballerstein
Stage Manager…………………..………………Kristine Schlachter*
Lighting Designer………………….……………Alexandra Mannix
Sound Designer………………….………………Ien DeNio
Projections Designer……………………………Zeljka Blaksic
*denotes members of Actors’ Equity Association

Although Molly and I have been working tirelessly on revisions for the adaptation, we really jump in to production on Thursday of this coming week, when we hold our first read-through. As usual, once we really begin there will be much more to report but, in the meantime, I wanted to do the official release of our production image (see above) and our WAR aviatrix (see below), courtesy, as usual, of the every-amazing Christine Diaz:

 

 

Happy New Year!!! And what’s on tap here at GTTP…

Like it says above – Happy New Year, people of the interwebs!

I hope you all had an amazing holiday and are looking forward to jumping in to 2014. Yup, 2014! Still having touble believing it’s 2014 . . . Anywho, now that we at GTTP have taken a nice break (as evidenced by our lack of blog posts for the past couple of weeks), we are hitting the ground running and jumping, feet first, into the new year. And we have an announcement to start off our year with a bang:

We are over-the-moon excited to announce that we have booked a performance space for Within Arm’s Reach and that performance space is . . .

That’s right, after a year and a half of Manhattan performance spaces, GTTP will be returning to The Secret Theatre in Long Island City. We have missed the little (actually not so little) theater across the East River that we consider our 2nd home (the first home of the company of course being the living room of my Brooklyn apartment, which is, quite honestly, not nearly large enough to mount productions), and we are absolutely thrilled to be getting back there. For Within Arm’s Reach we will in The Big Secret, which is a performance space that will be familiar to anyone who saw Skin Flesh Bone. Production load-in will happen on March 17, 2014 and, assuming all goes according to plan, we will open on March 20th (yup, you read that right, a short 3 days of tech…).

Speaking of Within Arm’s Reach, script revisions are moving along (Molly and I are meeting tomorrow for round number 3) and we’re in the process of assembling our crew. . . Stay tuned for more announcements as we move from pre-production into auditions.

So, that’s what GTTP will be up to as we kick 2014 into high gear. We hope the start of your 2014 is equally exhilerating.

 

State of the company…address(?)

So, I know the State of the Union Address usually comes in the beginning of the year, but I figured, (so as not to detract from the president’s speech), I’d jump in now and give everyone the state of things on our little island.

Last week we had our (now annual) ensemble meeting/holiday get together at GTTP. Wine was imbibed, snacks were eaten, and great philosophical discussions about the nature of theater were held (actually we just talked about what the year had brought and what the new year would bring). Regardless, it’s been an exciting and active 2013 for us. Here, are a couple of accomplishments (by the numbers).

21 – number of active ensemble members currently in the company

3 – number of shows GTTP produced in 2013 (Bella’s Dream, The Sandman’s Coming, and Cat Lady Without a Cat)

18 – number of actors employed in our shows during the year

23 – number of crew members employed in our shows during the year

3 – number of workshops held (directing, improv, audition)

1 – number of managing directors GTTP found to help run the company (yay, Molly!)

So that’s what the past year has held for GTTP. Now it’s time to sit down and ask, “where are we going” (or, as a favorite, canceled-too-soon, TV show would say quo vadamus – if you know the show, mention it in the comments and you’ll get a shout out on Facebook). So, where are we going? I’m glad you asked:

Cabaret – because of holiday travel plans, we’ve decided to move our cabaret from December 20th to a January or February weekend. Stay tuned for updates about our cure for the winter blues, our storytelling cabaret - GTTP Talks…Sex.

Within Arm’s Reach – everything is moving forward with our theatrical adaptation of Within Arm’s Reach, the novel by Ann Napolitano. We’re hoping to announce performance dates and space very soon. We’re currently in the process of holding crew interviews and Molly and I are deep into script revisions. Most likely we’ll be holding auditions in late January and will start rehearsals in early February. It is so exciting to see the play starting to develop…at least on the page, and we’re thrilled to soon be all-in on the production. More (many more) updates to come.

Social Media updates – some of you may have noticed we’ve started a regular Monday theater quote posting on Facebook, we’re getting better about weekly blog posts and we’re starting to run weekly Friday GTTP tweets. That’s right, my peeps, we are all over the interwebs. We’re also hoping to bring back the Tahiti Dispatches (our home grown, locally sourced, podcast), so like us on Facebook, subscribe to our blogfollow us on twitter, and keep a eye out for podcast updates.

Updated website – and, last but not least, speaking of our internet presence, in the next few weeks check back at the website for long awaited updates to the “About Us” and “Past Productions” pages. Molly and I are hunkering down next week to get the website all shiny and new for 2014!

Thanks, all! Stay warm out there.

-Jess

Things completed and things beginning at GTTP…

On November 3rd GTTP completed two kinda big deal things – one personal and one business – but both had an effect on who GTTP is as a company.

In the interest of full disclosure, the time shown in the picture was the elapsed time from the first gun. My wave start time was about an hour and 15 minutes after the first gun.

The personal first – Yours truly (aka, GTTP Artistic Director, Jessica Ammirati) ran the New York City Marathon. As many of you know, I was supposed to run it last year before Hurricane Sandy put a damper on those plans, and after that experience I wrote about “Art and Sports and the things they Share” and, as my facebook peeps know, I already wrote a blog post about the experience of running it this year which you can see both on my personal FB page and on the ING NYC Marathon page; BUT, in this particular post, I’d like to just mention a word about perserverance. As in: have it, believe in it, keep doing it (whatever “it” may be). You see, #1 – I don’t really like running. No, I swear. I’ve been training off and on for this marathon for 13 years (yes I said years! And, though much of it was the “off” part of off and on, for the past two years it was serious running-5-days-a-week training) and I DON’T ENJOY RUNNING. I enjoy having done the run. I enjoy that when I’m running I can eat pretty much whatever I want and I won’t really gain weight. I enjoy the way my body looks and feels because of the run. But I kinda HATE the actual run. I keep waiting for that runners’ high to kick in…uh, I’m still kinda waiting. And, #2 – I’m a slow runner – I’m from hearty Italian peasant stock so though I can keep going, I can’t really get there fast. At my fastest (which was the middle 2-13 miles of the marathon), I was running about an 11 minute and 26 second mile. So, you know, not nothing but not exactly record breaking speed. And then, after mile 13 I slowed down a bit, and from 13-21 I ran about a 12 minute mile. And then I slowed down A LOT for the last 5.2 miles. The entire thing took me 5 hours and 46 minutes (and 18 seconds) to complete. A long time. I mean, it was under the 6 hour goal I had set for myself but still longer than the 5 hour and 30 minute goal I had really hoped for. But here’s the thing – it was awesome! I mean it. The run, the marathon, the experience? The FIVE HOURS AND FORTY SIX MINUTES (and 18 seconds) OF SUSTAINED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY?!?!? It was amazing. Hands down, freaking awesome, once-in-a-lifetime kinda thing here. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is (and I know it’s been said before much more eloquently than this but here goes): It’s worth it. Persevere. Keep pushing. Go after your dreams or goals or things you forsee for yourself. Or whatever you want to call it because most of the time it’s going to pay off. It can’t not. Not after you’ve put in all that time, work, energy, thought. 13 years ago, I had this wacky idea – “maybe I’ll run the NYC marathon” but more than that I had this thought – “I want to have this experience because I think this experience will mean something to me, will shape me in a certain way, will have an effect on the person I am.” And so I decided to pursue it. And, like I said, it was seriously off and on. There are whole years in there where I didn’t lace up a sneaker…but in the end, I had the experience I did because I wanted to do it, I prepared to do it, I pushed to do it. I persevered. And I did it. I did “___________” (YOU fill in that blank for you) and it was SOOOOOO worth it. When I was 10 years old, I had a similar thought, goal, dream, what have you – “I want to be a director” (it was actually when I was 6 that I first thought it but it wasn’t until I was 10 that I began to understand the thing I wanted to be and do was the job of a director). So, here I am 30 years later. GTTP is fives years strong and I’m doing this thing – this hard, exciting, scary, challenging, wonderful, life-changing thing. So I guess my whole point is…perseverence is cool, and I truly believe that, like gravity, it always works…

…and sometimes, that personal perseverance connects with someone else’s personal perseverance and you end up with a business accomplishment…which, of course, brings me to…

Luke Wise and Jill Rittinger in a scene from THE SANDMAN’S COMING.

The business thing that happened on November 3rd:

GTTP’s Managing Director, Molly Ballerstein, completed the run of her first GTTP show, The Sandman’s Coming. Slowly this company that I envisioned in my living room 6 years ago is starting to grow into it’s future shape. You see, I never planned for GTTP to stay my baby. I always wanted a partner.

Lantie Tom as The Heroine in THE SANDMAN’S COMING.

I was always hoping to find someone who would want to direct shows and help guide the company into the future with me. Yes, I want to direct but I want to direct as part of a family of artists, not out there on my own. And, with The Sandman’s Coming, GTTP has taken that first step into a new world. A world of LOTS of people’s ideas instead of just mine. A world of exploration, of partnerships and who knows what else. It’s an exciting step for us to take and an exciting way to do it. Because, guys? Seriously? Sandman was extraordinary. A movement theater piece that explored the nature of addiction, identity and human connection. That looked at addiction not in a sensationalistic way but asked instead, what do we do-how do we deal with additction when it isn’t sensationalistic? When it isn’t glamorous or tragic? When it is just a part of everday life – ugly, complicated, terrifying and banal – ordinary everyday life? Haunting and evocative, beautiful and moving, painful and transformative, this show stays with you long after the lights go down. Take a gander at a couple of the production stills above. We have more that we’ll be posting on the website shortly. The Sandman’s Coming was a truly powerful experience. And proof that GTTP is so lucky to have snatched up Molly as soon as we found her.

So that’s what we’ve just completed. Now, as Jed Barlet would say, “what’s next?” (Y’all knew I was a West Wing fan, right?) Because, in the end, you have to keep moving forward…ALWAYS. And moving forward we are with a couple of rather exciting events.

First Up:

Cat Lady Without A Cat

That’s right. Once again GTTP is co-producing Carrie Keskinen’s hilarious one woman show - “A hilarious and heartfelt story of one woman’s journey from a painful divorce to her new life in New York. Finding a dead mouse in her apartment is the catalyst for letting go of her past and fears of becoming a crazy cat lady, and discovering her true self.” And this time around GTTP peeps aren’t just on the producing side. This time around, I’m Assistant Directing the show and Molly is Stage Managing. Because the show’s first performance was sold out United Solo Festival, decided to extend and add a second show. Join us on Saturday, November 23rd at 4pm for the additional show. The performance is at The Studio Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street by 9th Avenue. Details and tickets available here.

 

December Benefit – GTTP talks SEX!

We’re currently planning our December Benefit – GTTP talks Sex! Ha, ha! Now you’re paying attention? Details to follow but for now, save the date – Before you head out of the city for your holiday festivities, we hope you’ll join us on December 20th at Shetler Studios for an evening of storytelling with the Tahitians.

Within Arm’s Reach in March

Molly and I are currently finishing the  stage adaptation of Ann Napolitano’s beautiful novel, Within Arm’s Reach. From Library Journal (Starred Review) – “Narrated in six different voices, this stunning first novel explores the multigenerational dynamics of one Irish American family and exposes misunderstandings and broken relationships… Although this exquisite, skillfully written gem addresses serious issues – e.g., guilt vs. loyalty, the past vs. the present – the narrative remains hopeful and includes ample doses of humor and wit.” In the next few months you’ll be seeing a lot from us about Within Arm’s Reach. We’re settling on a performance space and a crew in the next couple of weeks and will look at holding auditions in January. The plan right now (of course dependent on things like “what space is available?”  and “how much money can we raise?”) is for a two week performance run in March. Expect trademark GTTP elements – original storytelling and innovative use of lights, sound, set, projections, costume and movement. More details to come soon. And then more and more and more…

Farm Story filming

GTTP is thrilled to make this announcement: We’re about to move into the world of film and TV production! As a director I love love love theater but from the beginning I’ve also always wanted to direct in the film and tv world as well. So, why haven’t I, you ask. Actually I have a bit – I made a music video for Camilla Ammirati’s awesome song – The Ballad of Chicken McGann (which you can see on our GTTP Youtube Page) and I made a short film of Skin Flesh Bone – but I’ve never made a full length film or television pilot for a couple of reasons. #1) As you know, although theater ain’t exactly cheap, it’s definitely cheaper than film and tv production. In the past, thanks to all of you, we’ve been able to raise the budgets for plays but the starting budget for a television pilot episode is exponentially higher than your average low-budget theater production. So, we haven’t jumped in before. #2) I knew that raising the money for and actually filming a television pilot would take a LOT of my time – as in – all of it. And I didn’t want to abandon theater production while I went off to spend all of my time on a television show. #3) I’m not a writer. Though I’m a decent interpretive artist, I’m not exactly good with the creative writing thing. And so, I’ve never had a script that made sense as the first episode of a television show. BUT NOW – all three of those things have changed. (Actually #3 and #2 changed and that made me willing to jump in and change #1). So #3 changed with the entracnce of  Terri Viani, a dear screenwriting friend of mine. She has written an amazing script for the pilot episode of a television series called Farm Story. As you know from previous blog posts we now have Molly on board so there went #2. She will spearhead the theater stuff while I flit off to film Farm Story (see the next paragraph for more details on that). And so, we’re ready to jump into #1 – the money. Going to Tahiti Productions will coproduce the television show with Terri’s company, The Writer, Ink Productions and I will direct Farm Story. All that being said, GTTP’s official involvement in Farm Story won’t really heat up until Within Arm’s Reach is nearing completion but, if you’d like to follow the progress of independent television production (a formerly unheard of field that, with the advent of the internet  and inexpensive (but high quality) film/video technology, is now becoming more common), check out our Farm Story blog here. As of right now, (and, of course, dependent on fundraising) we are planning to film in New York and Virginia in late June/early July of 2014. Although we are THRILLED to be taking this step, as I said, this doesn’t mean that GTTP will stop doing theater. While I’m off rehearsing and filming the first episode of Farm Story, Molly will be here running GTTP and working on her own show…

Commissioned show

…which brings me to another GTTP first – it’s an exciting 5th Anniversary year for GTTP! For the first time GTTP is commissioning a show. (We’ve hit the big time now, kids!) Molly is currently in discussions with a playwright friend to write a collaborative movement/theater piece that will feature original music and will hopefully run around the same time that I’m off filming Farm Story - so, late June/early July.

Workshops, classes and readings oh my!

And, last but not least – we were so excited about our last round of workshops and classes that we’re going to do it again. Stay tuned in January for class and workshop announcements. We’re also planning to launch our reading series starting in the new year.

We hope to see you at one of the many upcoming events as GTTP heads into the second half of our 5th anniversary season.

Five years is wood, right?

That’s right folks! As you may have seen in our newsletter, GTTP is FIVE YEARS OLD this month!!!!!

And, in celebration of this milestone, we’ll be having a whole bunch of events throughout the season, including shows (of course) – speaking of which, have you bought your tickets for The Sandman’s Coming? (I may have mentioned – they’re on sale now) – workshops (we’re planning two workshops – improv and audition skills – for October and several throughout the rest of the season – stay tuned for details), cabarets – we’re ironing out the details of a storytelling cabaret that will be happening during the run of The Sandman’s Coming (tickets on sale now) that we hope you will join us for – seminars (we’re currently putting together a seminar for early career directors – details to follow) and parties - at the very least we’re planning an anniversary celebration that should coincide nicely with the winter holidays – so we hope you will stay tuned…but, that is actually not what this post is about. This post is brought to you by the number 5 because this post is about our 5 year anniversary or our 5th birthday or however you want to look at it, this post about us having made it, in an over-satureated, theater town, to our 5th season!!! A milestone we would not have seen if it weren’t for all of you out there!!!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your continued support. And, since this post is about a specific number, I thought I’d give it to you by the numbers – 10 to be exact – so here you go…

1 – as in – ONE DREAM that refused (and continues to refuse) to die. For me the dream of directing was so powerful that it started us all on this journey. It’s been a weird and wonderful trip so far – a dream trip, one might say, and I hope we’re just at the beginning…

2 – as in – the number of novels GTTP has adapted into stage productions (Dreamers of the Day, and Jane Austen’s Persuasion) – see our Past Productions page and previous blog posts for details on these amazing and exhilerating shows.

3 – as in – the third novel GTTP will adapt for the stage after we premiere our adaptation of Ann Napolitano’s Within Arm’s Reach, in late winter/early spring of 2014. I know, I know you’ve been hearing about this for over a year but it is now OFFICIALLY on the calendar, people! It is on the calendar and the script is halfway completed. We’re currently deciding on a performance venue and we are aiming for a late February/early March production run. Stay tuned for details.

4 – as in – the number of times GTTP has performed at The Secret Theatre. One of our all time favorite performance spaces, The Secret Theatre is consistently bringing new and innovative productions to their little corner of Long Island City – not so secret anymore. We hope to be back at our unofficial home in the spring, but in the meantime, if you’re looking for quality indy professional theater in Queens, check them out and take in a show.

5 – as in – we’re five years old, y’all!!!! Haven’t you been reading this post?

6 – as in – the number of theater women (who haven’t worked directly with GTTP and aren’t Tahitians per se but that) I have connected with thanks to/because of my work with GTTP. Connections I would not have made if GTTP didn’t exist – women I can’t imagine not having in my life. They include – Jane Dubin, producer - ANN, Peter and the Starcatcher and unFRAMED; Patricia Klausner, producer – Pippin; Caroline Rothstein, writer, performer and producer, http://bodyempowerment.tumblr.com/Bailie Slevin, a former theater professional who is now on a mission to bring fiscal health and education to the entertainment community – a mission she pursues through her company Entertaining FinanceMelanie Jones, writer, performer, dancer and producer – Endureand; last but not least Jake Lipman, actor, director, producer and founder of Tongue in Cheek Theater who will be doing a performance of How I Learned to Drive at the other Shetler Studios Theater during our run of The Sandman’s Coming. These women have been incredible – helpful, motivating, supportive, and generally wonderful people I’ve been honored to share the female theater community with. I hope that they are only the beginning of this circle of incredible theater women that GTTP has entered into.

7 – as in – the number of different aviatrices (the aviatrix is what we call our logo), our incomparable graphic designer, Christine Diaz, has designed to individually accompany each production (we don’t have one for Dreamers of the Day or the first In the Ebb  as we sadly hadn’t yet discovered the awesomeness that is Christine at the time we were doing those shows). When she came on board, she branded GTTP and continues to design all of our beautiful production art. To see all of the aviatrices, check out our About Us page.

8 – as in – the number of productions presented by GTTP since we opened our doors (curtains) - In the Ebb, by Camilla Ammirati, Dreamers of the Day, adapted from the novel by Mary Doria Russell, Skin Flesh Bone, by Camilla Ammirati, Full Disclosure, by Ruth McKee, Cat Lady without a Cat, by Carrie Keskinen, Jane Austen’s Persuasion, adapted for the stage by Laura Bultman, In the Ebb (Redux), by Camilla Ammirati and Bella’s Dream by Dana Boll. More details on each (except for Bella’s Dream because I haven’t had a chance to upload the pictures but will hopefully do it soon) can be found on our Past Productions page.

9 – as in – the number of productions we will have under our belts when The Sandman’s Coming opens on October 24th. Did I mention? Tickets are on sale now.

Which brings me to: 

10 – as in – years – our next big milestone – that, with your help, we’ll reach in another five.

Thanks for getting us here! We hope you’ll continue to join us on this extraordinary, exciting, incredible journey!

See you at the thater!!!!

Additions to the GTTP Family and What’s Next…

So, here’s the shiny happy post that goes hand in hand with the dark, Where-has-GTTP-been-for-the-last-5-months-post I posted here.

A couple of exciting announcements

First off – new ensemble members

When you get a chance, head on over to our About Us page, you’ll see some new folks. GTTP has expanded its ensemble. We’re now 28 strong, with actors, designers and technicians. It is very exciting to be working with such a wonderful team. And, since this talented team is always working (whether with GTTP or others), be sure to check out our Off The Island page which updates what our ensemble members are working on outside of GTTP.

Bella’s Dream a new play with dance by Dana Boll

Ensemble member, Dana Boll, has written and choreographed a beautiful new play with dance based on the true events of her grandparents escape from Poland in 1939. After a staged reading at the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, GTTP will proudly present the world premiere of this deeply personal and moving show. The play will run for three weeks at a theater on the lower east side of Manhattan. Details and tickets will be available soon on our home page. Also Dana, as co-producer, writer, choreographer and performer, will be blogging regularly about the production process, here; and I, as director and co-producer, will be blogging (less regularly but still regularly) about the production process here.

GTTP makes the transition to Film/TV

There has been some discussion in the backrooms of GTTP about expanding into the world of film and television. What I can say about the outcome of those discussions is that GTTP is planning on expanding into the world of film and television. Everything is moving, irons are in the fire and we will hopefully have an update in the next couple months that will be less cryptic. To be honest, I wouldn’t have said anything about it but I’m sooooooo excited that I couldn’t keep it entirely under my hat. Seriously, I could never be a spy. Don’t get me wrong, I can keep a secret but I can’t contain my excitement when I have a secret I’m going to keep. Hence the announcement.

Within Arm’s Reach

Some of you may wonder what all of the above means for our original adaptation of Ann Napolitano’s novel Within Arm’s Reach. Never fear. It is still happening. In fact, in my other blog posts, I talk about the various projects on my desktop that I’m currently working on and Within Arm’s Reach is one of the major ones. We will need to hold off until this fall or early winter but it is happening and we continue to be very excited about it. If you want to grab a copy of Within Arm’s Reach so you can see the challenge GTTP has given itself, or Ann’s other equally beautiful novel, A Good Hard Look, be sure to visit her webpage.

 

So, yeah, it looks like that’s our season. Bella’s Dream in June. A film/TV project hopefully in September-ish. and Within Arm’s Reach in December/January 2013-14. Along the way we’ll be updating the main page of the website as well as this here blog. We hope you’ll keep checking back!

We’re looking forward to an exciting year and we’re looking forward to you joining us on the island.

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 nytheatre.com 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.

 

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 www.puffinfoundation.org: “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!