We Are Family

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By Lauren Grajewski

Who would have thought in 4 short years a small theatre company in Connecticut could expand into a family of over 300 professional artists, donors, and steadfast supporters. As we are about to venture into our fifth season, beginning with our Annual Gala at the Bingham Camp on June 1st, we are taking a moment to reflect on the community we have created and all of the people who have made Live & In Color the warm and welcoming artistic home we have become. This year’s theme is “We are Family” as we honor our fearless caretakers of the Bingham Camp, Linda and Andy Schroeder. Linda and Andy are two of the most generous people I have ever met. They truly do make the Bingham Camp a home for every actor, musician, and patron that walks through. Live & In Color is not able to thrive without all of the support and love they pour into the Bingham property and our company, and we are eternally grateful to have them as part of our family. In addition to this, their involvement in the Salem Land Trust and other organizations make them true pillars of the Salem Community at large.

At the Gala, we will also be announcing the musical we are developing at our fall retreat! We have narrowed down our 2019 Musical Finalists to the following:

THE GOLDEN THRESHOLD by Cheeyang Ng and Eric Sorrels

THE UNCIVIL ONES by Charissa Bertels, Christian Duhamel, and Ayumi Okada

YOEY AND YEYA by J. Sebastian Fabal

YOU, ME, I, WE by Jessica Wu

AND we've been offered a matching grant of $12,000 to help us produce one of these spectacular pieces at our fall retreat. To receive the match, we must raise the full amount by June 1st, the day of our Annual Gala. Be sure to keep your eye on our social media, as there will be weekly giveaways of official Live & In Color merchandise to those who donate throughout the month of May. Make a donation in May to have every dollar matched, win some swag, and help us create an exciting 5th season!  

It has been proven time and time again that the sign of a thriving community economy is a lively arts and culture scene. Salem is no exception. Live & In Color has been cultivating vibrant partnerships with local businesses throughout the greater Salem Community. We collaborate with local businesses including the Red House, Sunset Hills Vineyard, Ashlawn Farms Coffee, Provider Farm, and many others. On top of this, our Broadway veteran and Lucille Lortel award winning Artistic Director, Devanand Janki, has dropped by many schools in Connecticut to teach workshops to the students, giving them opportunities to learn from a leader in the theatre industry who is actively innovating the field.  We look forward to welcoming even more folks into our family.

In the spirit of family, I feel inspired to reflect on my own time with my Live & In Color family. When I first joined Live & In Color, I had recently finished the Stella Adler Studio of Acting’s Musical Theatre Intensive, in which our Artistic Director, Devanand Janki, is a faculty member. Completely enraptured with his class and the way he pushes people towards excellence with a full heart and unwavering passion, I wanted to continue working with this man. I asked him to grab a cup of coffee with me, and a few weeks later, we had a long conversation at a coffee shop on 73rd street about our goals and the theatre we want to create. He told me all about Live & In Color and how it strives to create stages in which every voice has equal opportunity to be heard. I knew I had to be a part of the work they were doing. I began interning for Live & In Color and a couple months later I found myself in a car with Dev, Ernie Fimbres, and Abigail Grubb, heading to the Bingham Camp in Salem, Connecticut for the first time.

That night we sat around the kitchen table at the Bingham Camp eating a dinner that was most generously left for us by the amazing Kristina Len. She is the meal coordinator and caterer at the Bingham Camp who somehow finds time to make wonderful meals for the many people staying at the camp, as well as transform the dining area nightly to reflect the meal we are eating -- decorations and all. We were soon joined by Michael Graziano, an old friend of Live & In Color and a fundraising master. It was around 8pm and Dev, Ernie, Abigail, Michael, and I all stood around the kitchen talking about our strategy for the next couple of days as we produced Live & In Color’s 2018 Gala, which at the time was raising money for our fall musical, Present Perfect, by Jaime Lozano and Nancy Cheser.

I was an awkward college Sophomore at the time, and I remember feeling completely out of place. I had no experience and knew nothing about putting an event together like this. Instead I sat there in awe of all the fascinating ideas that were being thrown around the room, and I became blatantly aware of how much I still needed to learn about all the behind-the-scenes tasks that must occur for an event like this to be successful. In the midst of my realizing this, Dev sincerely asked me if I had any ideas I would like to offer. That was when I realized what makes Live & In Color so special. They continuously create spaces full of people of different ethnicities, different experiences, and different ages who all have an equal voice in the room.

I have since worked on many productions with Live & In Color and have seen this to be true in any room the Live & In Color team is working in, and with whomever the Live & In Color team is working with. It is amazing to see how a mission of diversity that dictates what shows Live & In Color creates also carries over to how Live & In Color is run. While I may not have had a lot to offer at that Bingham Camp kitchen table last May, I feel completely differently now. Through my year with the company, I have graduated from Intern to Creative Producing Fellow. I have learned not only what technical things need to happen in order to run a successful theatre company, but I have also gained confidence in myself. I have learned how to share my thoughts and ideas, how to never feel inadequate in a room because my voice matters too, and that it takes damn hard work to make things happen in the arts… but man, is it worth it.

I recently found myself on the phone with my lovely (albeit overprotective) mother the other day who was leaving our home in Philadelphia with my father for a quick trip out of state. This meant she would no longer be just a two-hour drive away for a few days, so she began telling me who to call if the sky fell and hungry wild animals began roaming the streets of New York City. In response, I actually caught myself saying, “Don’t worry, Mom. I have my Live & In Color family here if anything happens.” And it’s true. People I look up to, who in the past I asked at a coffee shop on 73rd street to let me observe how they work, I now am able to call my family. And I am forever grateful.

Dennis CorsiComment