The Now and the Then: Jeanine Tesori Brings Off-Broadway to City Center Encores!

By Michelle Vellucci
12 Jul 2013

Renee Elise Goldsberry will head the cast of I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

What role does The Lobby Project play in the series?
JT: The Lobby Project came out of a desire to create context for these shows. I love this building and I love its history, and I wanted to experiment with it as a performance space as well. Everything is tied to what's being produced onstage. The visual artists are still making art with the same impulse with which I believe Blitzstein wrote Cradle. And the young women who are performing and writing poetry, they're doing that in the voice of 2013, while onstage are the voices of two women from thirty-five years ago at a turning point in their lives, trying to make sense of it.

In the spirit of Encores!, the rehearsal period is going to be very short.
JT: Yes. And we're not going to pretend that we're any deeper down the road than ten days into rehearsals. There are going to be scripts in the actors' hands to say, "This is where we are at this point." And I really enjoy that idea of not pretending that we are any further along than that. They're going to work incredibly hard to have something that's in a singular form early in its process. I've done daylong workshops where from the morning to the evening you can't believe the transformation. There's something astonishing about that short a process because people usually go with their first instincts.

Isn't it also really stressful?
JT: Oh, completely. When I did Twelfth Night with Nick Hytner at Lincoln Center, we worked so hard and it was only there for the summer. But he said, "There's something so beautiful about doing theatre like this because it's like cold water on a hot New York sidewalk. It just evaporates. It's there and then it's gone." And I love that.

(This feature appears in the July 2013 edition of the City Center Encores! Playbill magazine.)