You & Me – a stage manager’s preview

You & Me – a stage manager’s preview

Since November, I’ve indulged in my first stage management project in Buffalo for the new theatre company, Green Buffalo Productions (GBP.) Three of my dearest friends started the company in April 2018 with the goal of producing original work by local and regional playwrights and poets. In a city that produces so much popular, mainstream theatre, there’s no other company that is producing new work like they are in Buffalo.

So, what new show are they producing?

I’m glad you asked!!

The semi-autobiographical play, “You & Me: The (Mostly) True Story of the Day Before my Senior Prom,” follows the relationship between Tori and Geoff from their awkward but happy moment at freshmen year orientation, to the day before senior prom where even the thought of Geoff pushes Tori to her limit. This 90 minute production takes you on a journey through young love, relationship violence and abuse, conflict, heartache, friendship and figuring out what to do once you reach your breaking point as a teenager. Through the perspective of Tori, we slowly connect all the pieces to the puzzle that leads her to ask for help the day before prom.Pair, Man, Woman, Discussion, Difference, Relationship

When I first read the script, its format reminded me of the musical, “Fun Home.” Obviously, they don’t have the same exact format but going from past to present Alison in “Fun Home” and demonstrating how she got to where she is, it’s structured like that for “You & Me.” The present day scenes set up for the scenes that take place in the past to give the arc of the story more depth and understanding. Usually in theatrical shows, whether they’re plays or musicals, they open up to a moment in time. You see the characters as they are without ever necessarily knowing how their story began or how their story ends.

In this show, audience members will receive all the information they need from beginning to end. Nothing’s left out, nothing’s left unsaid. It’s raw, it’s real and most importantly, it’s relatable. This production and story will leave audience members connecting the dots and starting a conversation once the final words are spoken.

Not only is this piece autobiographical, it’s a piece of theatre for social change.

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In the time of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement, talking about sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape is the forefront of the fight. GBP producing “You & Me” is giving a voice to survivors who wouldn’t otherwise get one. And this story takes place during high school, a pivotal moment for social and physiological development for teenagers who are just beginning to gain their own opinions, viewpoints and voice in this massive world. I don’t know of any recent established works that give a voice to a teenage girl who’s been through hell and back, literally.

 

More importantly, violence towards girls during the teenage years is not uncommon, actually, it’s more common than one would think. According to Love is Respect:

  1. One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
  2. One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  3. Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.

Most of the depictions of abuse in “You & Me” are subtle, just like how they happen in real life. Words spoken by our talented, driven and passionate company of actors were said in real life, exact verbatim.

Why exactly were those words said? Some of that we don’t know.

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Why do people abuse and manipulate other people? Sadly, no one exactly knows that either…

This show is going to ring the bell louder and hit closer to home whether you’ve been in a toxic relationship or experienced intimate partner violence. Even if you haven’t personally experienced those things, you might connect with the reality of what happens when you ask for help or the feeling of almost losing your best friend. Maybe you’ll relate to its illustration and honesty of mental health. Maybe it’s something personal from high school that you didn’t think would resonate after so many years from this production. Most of all, anyone who sees this show will know they’re not alone.

It’s a show everyone should see in a time where violence against women is a continuous, rising international issue. It’s a show that will make you ask questions. A show that will make you want to turn the other way, like when you see a bad car accident, but you just can’t. It’s a show that will make you laugh (even with this show’s subject matter, there are moments of appropriate laughter, I promise!), it will make you think, it will make you uncomfortable, it will make your blood boil, it might even make you cry. But again, it will show you that you’re not alone in any connection you have with this show and this story.

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The point of theatre for social change is to talk about all the issues that are pinned uncomfortable. Those topics that we should push under the rug, this show is giving the proper light and opportunity for further discussion. “You & Me” shouldn’t be an easy show to watch or listen to. The only way we make a change in this world is by facing the problem head on and looking at how we can individually make a change in our lives to impact the bigger picture. If we keep the conversation going once the show is over, we’ve done our job.

I’ve watched this show grow from start: auditions, casting the show, notating every single change and movement made on stage. I’ve seen the cast grow with their characters, bringing this story to life and giving justice to the subject matter. It’s evolved from the page to the stage and in just nine days (eight, actually) we’ll have an audience. I’ve worked on many shows over the years and to begin 2019 stage managing “You & Me” is  an honor and the best way to begin my year of theatre. It’s a show not to be missed by an up-and-coming theatre company in the Buffalo area.

All information pertaining to the show and tickets can be found at Green Buffalo Production’s website by clicking this link. We hope to see you there; you won’t want to miss it!

DISCLAIMER: ‘You and Me: The (Mostly) True Story of the Day Before my Senior Prom’ includes direct examples of and illusions to intimate partner violence. Characters experience and discuss issues of emotional, mental and physical abuse. Explicit language, may not be suitable for anyone under 16.

Adulting… It’s not a trap

Adulting… It’s not a trap

Here’s what I’ve learned thus far:

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Adulting is trying to navigate the partly sunny dirt path that never seems to ends.

Being an adult is making huge decisions that will ultimately benefit you ten years down the road more so than the immediate present.

Adulting is trying to figure out what classifies as good health insurance. And for that matter, trying to save money while drowning in student loan debt where the total number you owe, visibly, never seems to change.

It’s also about making memories, taking wild adventures and “see[ing] the world” while having to (presumably) support yourself almost 100% for the first time in your life.

*Cue scream*

I can’t be the only one who is terribly scared of adulting, right?

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When I graduated in May, I had this idea of what was going to happen: I would work one last summer at Chautauqua Institution, come back to Ithaca, find a job and save as much as I could just to pay my student loans. Sounds reasonable, right?

But as everyone knows, life doesn’t always work out the way we have it in our heads or what we want to perceive.

I came back in August and applied to some jobs in Ithaca, nothing. I continued to look online for various jobs in and outside the Ithaca area, nothing. My bare savings was running out, my student loan payments were going to begin in December and I had no job to my name.

Something needed to change.

All my college friends were in Buffalo, finding their own personal success in each of their endeavors and I thought, hey, I can do that. I should be doing that. Why aren’t I doing that? Finding success.

So, I did something.

I found myself in Buffalo by the start of the New Year.

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It’s been absolutely insane. I threw away over 7 garbage bags full of trash, clothes to donate, things I had no use for in bags to donate and I headed 121 miles west to Buffalo. I have just enough room in my apartment just outside the city, with access to all shops and stores which are only a two minute drive down the road in all directions. If I want to go to the mall (read: LUSH), it’s at most 15 minutes, depending on traffic.

In Ithaca, I would have to drive, at most, 15 minutes to get to the grocery store and over half an hour to get to the gym or post office. If I wanted to go to a larger mall, it would take me almost two hours to head north towards Syracuse. Living closer to things and places is a whole new world.

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Now, my main reason for moving to Buffalo was not because my college friends are here or that there are more jobs to apply to, although those were major perks. I was becoming too comfortable in Ithaca.

So many people stay in Ithaca forever, in this bubble of our liberal college-town, with the same annual events, with the same beautiful gorges, with the same people you pass by on your everyday outings. Staying in one place is definitely not a bad thing, but I’ve realized that I can’t live in a place that is always… the same.

Ithaca is a beautiful place to visit and definitely to live in. And I do I have my friends, family and my favorite things to come back to. Trust me, I miss all of my favorite people and places, a lot… Oh, lets be honest, I miss my dog, Jack, the most.

But I don’t want to live in the same.

I’m 24 years old with so much ahead of me. I’ve realized that if I want to better my life, I need to start making the choices in order to do that. I can’t sit in what’s comfortable waiting for the opportunities to magically appear before my eyes. If I want something, I need to get it myself. I can’t live in comfort because it’s safe.

I don’t want to live in what’s safe or comfortable. It’s not a life worth living, being comfortable and never embracing life changes or taking the opportunities that come our way.

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If I succeed, I succeed. If I fail, I fail. But at least I tried. I can say I did it. I can say to my future children, “I did this. I found success and I failed and I learned from it all.”

We don’t succeed when we stay safe. We succeed when we do something risky. When we push our own boundaries to the edge to see how far we can actually go is when success presents itself.

The twenty-fourth book of my life is underway, and we’re almost through the second chapter. Right now, nothing can stop me and there’s no challenge that will defeat me.