And I am eternally grateful…

Those last few runs of the show were completely surreal. Sitting there while watching a scene, my mind would often wonder back to the classroom where we first blocked that moment. A time when I couldn’t fathom what the space would look like or how it would all come together. Then, there I sat under blue lights watching the action on a beautiful landscape-painted canvas with incredible costumes, music, and light shifts that made these characters come to life. Jules mentioned in the final rehearsals that these individuals on stage were no longer characters, but people; and I agree with that wholeheartedly. Each character—and there are over 60—has unique gestures, tones, and ideas that make them real. This is the result of impressive research and time, but ultimately of an extraordinary cast and crew. It is rare that you find so many people as dedicated and phenomenal at what they do as I have in this production—all simply to tell a story, to spread a message. I really have learned a lot during this production. I’ve seen what a dramaturge does and how her work can be incorporated into a production. She has shown that I can employ these same techniques and conduct the same research she has done for the show and characters in future productions I’m involved with. I’ve gained so much from Jeff and all the actors in the show. Watching them and listening to Jeff’s coaching has really renewed my interest in acting and has rekindled my passion for the art. I’ve picked up so many great techniques and have made some incredible observations that I can incorporate into my own work. Watching Jeff and Jules has also encouraged me to take a directing course in hopes of directing a show before I graduate. I think it would be such a fulfilling experience! Watching the show numerous times, listening to Julian and Manny talk about their experiences as Unitarians, and hearing Aftene’s struggles reconciling the views of the Baptist minister with those of herself, has challenged me to revisit the concepts and notions of my religion and has encouraged me to actively determine where I stand. This show has had such a profound impact on me, but the most fulfilling component of the show has been the effect we’ve had on others. This show has sparked so much conversation and debate. It really has challenged those in our community to dig deeper and think about their actions and thoughts within the context of the big picture. This show has proven to be so much more than the gay play that people originally expected. As Naomi said, many had the intent of coming to illustrate how aware they were of “the gay issue.” From what I’ve observed, they’ve left empowered. This is probably the greatest act of activism I’ve done—empowering people to reconsider their ideas and think deeply about this topic. We’ve touched so many people, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

2 thoughts on “And I am eternally grateful…

  1. And we are eternally grateful for your cheerful, committed, creative, and intelligent contributions to the production. I’m reminded of Julian’s reminder during our last class meeting that he joined the cast later, after someone decided he/she couldn’t commit the time. As Jeff said, it is impossible to conceive of this group having a different composition. Not to mention not having the folks who were part of the crew being a part of the class as well as the rehearsal process, so fully integrated as to unify the technical process of production with the acting and the dramaturgy. These are small but significant decisions that, I think, made this production what it was.

    I’m also so happy to hear you’re thinking of acting and directing yourself in the future. As a UNC alum, I selfishly suggest that if you’re thinking that you’re interested in making performance in the Laramie mode, you might check out courses in Performance Studies housed in the COMM department (particularly any chance to work with Renee Alexander Craft, Joseph Megel, and Della Pollock or with grad students like Marie Garlock or Kashif Powell). Also, I know that Ashley Lucas in Department of Dramatic Art is on leave in the fall, but her courses in documentary performance and latina/o theater are not to be missed (if you can fit them in with all your current irons in the fire!). I can’t imagine that we’ll not be seeing you so regularly at Duke next fall, but promise that you won’t be a stranger. Let us know what work you are up to so that we can show up and cheer you on!


  2. Jeremy- I am eternally grateful for all of your hard work. From the beginning I have felt your passion and support. I wish you had auditioned. I would love to work with you someday as an actor. You did a great job as you were taking over for folks in rehearsals.

    I think you would be a terrific actor and director. I hope you continue to pursue the incredible resources at your disposal at UNC. Its a great place to be. But I have to say I am so glad we got the chance to have you here at Duke this semester.

    Your support of me and everyone involved in the production was rock solid from the very beginning. I felt your interest and participation in class, rehearsals and productions. Thanks for everything. If you stay in the area after graduation, give Manbites a thought as a place where you could continue to work and grow in the theater.

    xo Jeffrey

Leave a Reply