Rehearsal begins, and actors pick up instruments to begin to play. Melodies, harmonies burst forth to launch The Band’s Visit Kristen Sieh into her story. The image of the room is performers engaged fully in their offering in dynamic marks across the stage. The room is empty but for a few creative contributors, the space readying itself for the flood of patrons ready for new sounds, new music, and a story that will shake them. In the foreground, an infant has eyes raised to the performers, back arched and reaching, absorbing every note. His mother – the composer Greta Gertler Gold – focuses intently on the music. Her producing partner, Alexandra Collier, listens intently to the book she wrote and how the worlds speak to one another. She’s pregnant and navigating the city each day while pouring her energy to her growing play. The art and craft of making and mothering becomes rehearsal room reality while making TRIPLIGHT – the newest musical to hit the stage at Joe’s Pub here in New York City.
“One of the most exhausting, but also one of the most fulfilling times of my life.” – Greta
TRIPLIGHT shares the story of a woman emerging from trauma years later to tell her story after shutting herself in to the tune of a powerhouse rock musical. Calling it, “funny, dark, and unconventional,” Alexandra explains that the story focuses on a woman whose fellow bandmates and herself experience a crash on the road – and only she survives. After shutting herself in for years, the woman finally emerges for a radio interview to share her story – and the result is what we get to experience firsthand.
Greta and Alexandra have been working on this musical on and off for eight years – longer than either of them have known motherhood. The concert version at Joe’s Pub is richly produced as a full show where the actors sing and play their own instruments as well as engage in character. One immediately thinks of the power of Once and Band’s Visit integrating musician-actors onstage to tell us stories that break our hearts and make us long to be up there with them – and this musical seems no exception to that experience. In Joe’s Pub, the music venue of The Public Theatre downtown, this weekend seems poised for exactly what many of us are looking for in a theatrical experience – illumination of the human experience, skill in storytelling, and incredible music.
[For all you ticket buyers out there – use the code TRIPLITE for a discount – note the spelling)
That’s what we all get to experience when we purchase the ticket. The experience in the room was perhaps equally revolutionary: Eben Gold is the baby in the photograph described earlier (and he also makes a more than charming appearance in our video interview here), and his life has been filled with music, tragedy, and support in less than a year. Shortly before rehearsals began, the Golds’ house burned down, leaving Greta without many things, including parts of her breast-pump. The logistics of their new situation and her focus on staying healthy as she dove into creating a new musical led the creative team to opt for Eben in the room, at every rehearsal.
The results, according to Alexandra, were magical. Described as a “chill” baby, having an infant in the room where everyone was on board to support – and at times literally hold the infant – created a space of welcoming and family. While it may not work for every child and not all parents prefer to have kids on-site, the process was a radical example on the impact of leadership setting the tone and the culture of acceptance. “This is who needs to be in the room” determined how the room functioned – and all for the best.
At 21 weeks pregnant herself, Alexandra found Eben’s presence to be just the beginning of asking ourselves questions as to how we support people in the space, how much we assume is “fine” that artists make work against odds in this “intense” profession, and what we can do to make it more accessible. One of her clearest discoveries: “Hire more women.” She included that because they were able to self-produce their work, they felt less restrictions on their process that made their contributions more productive.
Gerta also recommended that theatres make lists of affordable ways that parents can be supportive (PAAL has these! Write us for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org). Perhaps most importantly, she encourages theatres to connect with parents without judgement. Openly sharing that she struggled with infertility for a few years, Greta says she has a heart to tell her story now as a mother so that others can see that it’s possible to come through the other side of the experience where your body is just not “doing what you want it to do.” It was an experience that, for her, taught her so much about challenges that become the things you have to let go of.
For Alexandra, this experience spoke to the artistic process. With Eben in the room, Alexandra said it was a reminder to allow things in their storytelling to be more human, unconventional, and “messy.” The story has nothing to do with motherhood – it just made access possible for the artists, who happen to be mothers, to make it outstanding. The creative stimulation of an unapologetically boundless human in the space not lost on either of these female creative powerhouses, Greta states openly the importance of others knowing that this brilliant new work is a labor of artist mothers: “I want other people to feel they can do this.”
ABOUT TRIPLIGHT – from Joe’s Pub Calendar Page:
Thursday, May 30 – Tuesday, June 4
“In the 90s, indie rock band Triplight was poised on the knife edge of fame. But just before their first album was set to be released, the band tragically disappeared. Until tonight, 20 years later, when their charismatic lead singer Willow Spark will emerge from hiding to reckon with a past that will push her to the brink of life and death.
Starring Kristen Sieh, written by acclaimed Australian female artists, singer-songwriter Greta Gertler Goldand playwright Alexandra Collier and directed by Mia Rovegno, Triplight is an irreverent, quirky and dark new musical that explores the precarious life of a musician in the nostalgia-strewn past of New York City – with an original score that fuses indie pop and 90s rock.”
Starring Kristen Sieh
Featuring Tony Torn, Maya Sharpe, Jake Roa, Titus Tompkins, Caitlin Cobb-Vialet, Angel Lin, Gabrielle Cuadra, Guillermo Contreras
Book & Lyrics by Alexandra Collier
Music & Lyrics by Greta Gertler Gold
Directed by Mia Rovegno
Produced by Laura Been
Design by Kate Freer
Costumes by Whitney Locher
Movement by Katie Rose McLaughlin
Music Direction by JoAnne Harris
Assistant Music Direction by Lucas Elijah Friedman