We love to serve you Parody, Champagne, and a little Burlesque!

SMCABARETPOSTER

The Grace Period Blog Premieres

THE S.M. CABARET: SLAVES OF SALLIE MAE

May 2nd and 9th @ 9:30pm

The Duplex

61 Christopher Street (NYC)

The Grace Period Blog invites you to their world premiere of The S.M. Cabaret: Slaves of Sallie Mae. In true cabaret fashion, it will be an evening of song, shimmy, and debauchery that will put a smart sexy spin on the student debt crisis. Naturally, a degree is included with every admission (interest-free). We could go on and on preaching about the downright criminal interest rates inflicted on American students and the astronomical rising cost of education, but it’s so much more entertaining with parody, champagne, and a little burlesque.

The Cabaret features adaptations and impersonations of classic Broadway songs and stars, as well as original songs and dances. There will be solo and ensemble works written and performed by The Grace Period Blog members: Sydney Arndt, Sarah Lucie, Gabriela Moreno, Laura Marie Mooney, and Katy Telfer. Rumor has it that the infamous Sallie Mae and the lesser known evil step-sister, The Great Lakes, may even make special appearances.

Reserve your ticket for $5 in advance by clicking here: Friday, May 2nd or Friday, May 9th

Or pay $7 at the door without a reservation. (NOTE: There is a 2 drink minimum at The Duplex.)

Can’t wait to see you there!

The Grace Period Blog

 

 The Grace Period Blog is committed to redefining the length of the student loan repayment grace period by continuing to build creative careers in writing and performance past the 6-month time allotment. They also encourage others to live the creative lives they planned on living despite their debt burdens.

 The Blog was co-founded by NYU MA Performance Studies Alumni, Gabriela Moreno and Sydney Arndt. The idea was born as a response to the contributors’ personal experience with the student debt crisis in America.  It became active as a blog in September of 2013 with the intention of creating content that would be used as raw material leading to a date-specific performance on November 21st, 2013—the end of the founders’ student loan grace period. This play, “November 21st,” premiered in Washington Square Park and incorporated public participation from audience members and passersby. Since then, The Grace Period Blog has continued exploring issues surrounding student debt while evolving its performance styles and expanding its body of contributors.

 

 

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I regret to inform you…

Dear Jenna Tamimi,

I regret to inform you that after evaluating a very strong admission cohort, the Faculty Committee on Admissions is unable to offer you admission to the Ph.D. program in Theatre.

I know that this is unpleasant news. Unfortunately, we must necessarily base our decisions on materials that reduce unique and complex individuals to the components of their dossier. Nevertheless, I can assure you that your application received the most careful consideration and that the committee’s decision was taken after much deliberation.

I wish you success in your future career, and thank you for having given us the opportunity to consider you for admission to Columbia.

Sincerely yours,

Carlos J. Alonso
Dean

 

Dear Jenna:

I’m sorry not to have written you sooner. We had an exceptionally strong pool of applicants this year, and both the candidates to whom we offered admission accepted. I only wish we could have taken more students!

Sincerely,
John Rouse

 

Perhaps it is the theater person in me, but I feel rejection has molded me. It is a part of me, and while is can be painful; it does not have to be completely negative. I think of all the unanswered emails I wrote to my distant father. His refusal to speak to me has strengthened my determination to live my life honestly and for myself. I think of my undergraduate theater program’s rejection of my directing proposal and opinion of me as a “feminist kill joy” and how that motivated me to successfully direct and produce feminist plays off campus. I think of the unfortunate knack I had for falling in love with, and in turn being rejected by, the most emotionally unavailable dykes. But, had I not felt that heaviness in my heart, eaten my body weight in ice cream, and cried on the bathroom floor, I don’t think poetry would mean as much and I don’t think I could really hear the beautiful pain in Patsy Cline’s voice when she sings “Crazy” or know the sweetness of the love I am fortunate enough to have today.

Yesterday while talking to one of my best friends about rejection, her words of encouragement were simple, “Well Jenna, you have always done best when you have a force to work against you”.  She’s right.  

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PUT A PRICE TAG ON US

PUT A PRICE TAG ON US

We went to school

We were taught to fight for fair causes

To appreciate and embrace cultural differences

To always question and stretch the limits of what we think we know

To see the world for what it is and not for what “the powerful” want us to believe it is

To load ourselves with knowledge and critical tools to free our creative thought processes

To understand why it is important that we overcome oppression and inequality together

To understand why it is important that the world becomes a better place

To take ownership of our ideas

To learn from art

To make art

To use art

So, I ask you, how much are we worth?

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Unexpected Inspiration – Thanks José Rivera

One of the joys of living in New York City is that inspiration lives around every corner. There are thought provoking, challenging, beautiful events happening all over the city on any given night. Hell, they’re even happening on the street and in the subway if you’re looking for them. I bring this up because I bought a discount ticket on a whim to attend an event at the Public Theater. The event was part of the Public Forum, the “Theater of Ideas,” and featured a talk by Sarah Lewis, followed by a conversation between her, José Rivera, and Carrie Mae Weems. I didn’t know much about these people, and I wasn’t sure if I should spend the money, but something pushed me to go. Ticket for one please.

And it was exactly what I needed. I won’t go into the long talk I had with new friends after the event, or even the highlights of the event itself. Instead, I will share a story by Jose Rivera. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment, and maybe it will be what you need to hear too.

Preface: José was raised in a Catholic tradition (cue sympathetic pat from Weems), and he was always intrigued by the creation myth.

————

As we all have learned, God created the world in 7 days. On the first day, he separated light and dark, blah, blah, blah. So on the seventh day, it was good, and it seemed complete. There were a few bunnies on a hillside watching the sunset, but the thing was, they couldn’t enjoy the sunset. All they could think about were where their next carrots were going to come from. That’s when God realized that things weren’t actually complete. He needed someone to enjoy all the beauty he had worked so hard to create, and someone to help others see that beauty. And so, on the eighth day, God created the artist. An artist’s job is to finish creation—to help others find the beauty that already exists.

————

Thank you José.

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Playing The Part and Pulling It Off (Hopefully)

By an incredible stroke of luck, I found myself on all-expense-paid business trip to wine country in Puglia, Italy. But let’s be honest, I don’t belong on this trip. I am not an importer, I am not a distributor, I don’t even work at winery but at a small independent retail shop in Brooklyn. “Just drink the wine and learn as much as you can. No pressure,” my boss told me. While deliriously drinking in the beauty surrounding me just as earnestly as I knocked back my Primitivo, my hedonistic aspirations come to a crashing halt when I realized This Is Not A Vacation. I was to pretend to be an importer and I didn’t know the first thing about acting that part- my boss sent me on this trip completely unprepared. So I shakily bluffed my way through interviews with winemakers and didn’t; get much of a rush from it. I was afraid of sounding stupid and for them to call me out as a fraud- which a few did, to my total mortification. All of this is added to the fact that I was a young, attractive American woman at least 15 years younger than anyone else on this trip. I stuck out like a sore thumb among the 60 year old European men which constituted 90% of the group. The thought plagued me, “Who the hell would take you seriously?” When I expressed my anxiety to my senior associates they consoled me with “Don’t worry, use your looks to your advantage. You’re here to taste wine and learn about this industry. Don’t let these people intimidate you, just give them a smile.” I was frustrated with my own ignorance and the feminist on my shoulder telling me if I was a young man I would be treated much differently. Flattered by the chivalrous treatment and downright spoiled by the Italian lifestyle, but I still felt uncomfortable treating this whole thing with such flippancy. I thought that if a young man were in my position, more would be expected of him so that he wouldn’t embarrass himself and the company sponsoring his trip. But as I a young attractive American woman, everyone is concerned that I am enjoying myself. No doubt everyone else is enjoyed my refreshing presence among the usual suspects. My goal is to be taken seriously, and all I can do right now is fake it till I make it. All of my audition techniques proved very useful on this trip because handling so many situations such as this all comes down the basic principles. Dress the part you’re going for, practice your lines, research your part in the context of the entire script and when show time comes simply react. After recently attending his show at the Brooklyn museum, I thought that Jean Paul Gaultier’s idea that “our body, the way we present ourselves—it’s a form of communication. Our clothing, hair and body decoration reflect our true identity” is very much true, unless you’re trying to adorn yourself in order to disguise. But, even the way you walk, it’s always giving yourself away. Self-conscious musing and constant mirror checking don’t satisfy my anxiety that I’m presenting the image I want. Your headshot can say so many different things and your audition could completely contradict or highlight those facts. We’re in the business of appearance and here every details counts. I feel accomplished that my efforts to be taken seriously were at least noticed in the fact that I behaved with demure, refined manners, unlike my fellow loud-mouth American attending this trip. It was a great lesson in self image and providing a benchmark for how much I know versus how much more I have to learn.

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Getting the act Together

We’ve been meeting weekly for what’s gone of the year. We’ve been frustrated, stimulated, disappointed, uncertain, excited, absent, present, lacking, overworked, restless, perturbed, dedicated. Together. And finally we are getting it. After long hours of debate with each other and ourselves, we’ve made, not “it,” but something.

From our SM Cabaret workshop meetings, we have not only created a script and have a laugh and a tear and a rant about it, we have also grown, matured, arrived at many important discoveries for our art and our life. Art, love, economy, society, value, humanity. We have finally tamed all these themes that keep bouncing back and forth in our conversations giving us anxiety and nightmares. We are allowing ourselves to have fun with it. Let’s fucking have a lot of fun with it. Because we’ve earned it; we have worked so hard, not only investing our time thinking and researching and brainstorming, but also waiting tables, and picking up the phone for our bosses, and changing diapers, and running crosstown to meet deadlines, and writing cover letters, and trying to budget, and applying to programs, and being mindful with our neighbors. We are getting the act together, Together.

But. We are not alone, and as beautiful as that can be, that is also the very reason why we must keep moving forward with our goals: empower artists to develop their own work, create a community that is aware of their rights, push the boundaries of what defines a “grace period,” remain active creators. Even when our goals are not so clear, even when the road seems dangerous and pointless; we know that we are up to something (whatever that can be) with the best of our intentions, intentions that are not selfish but the opposite. What can we do? We can try, experiment, fail, learn, try again. Yes all those life old cliches. But why not?

Better together than alone, and better yet than knowing something is wrong and not doing anything at all.

 

Getting the act Together

The scariest and most freeing

feeling

action

seduction

There’s all to be won

there’s little to lose

Our next act

will do something

not only for us

but also for you.

Maybe you’ll laugh

maybe you wont

maybe you will even argue with us.

And we want it all

so we’ll take what you’ll give.

Getting our act Together

is a dance

is a walk

is a dream

is a nightmare.

Above all

is our act,

and we are getting it.

Together.

 

 

 

See you at the cabaret!

 

 

 

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Après moi, le déluge

I received my first PhD rejection letter a few weeks ago.  It was from Brown. Honestly my heart wasn’t set on Brown; the program wasn’t exactly what I was looking for and I can’t say I was thrilled with the prospect of moving to Rhode Island. But, the letter carried a certain foreboding weight; the way people say death comes in threes. It had an air of Après moi, le deluge (after me, comes the flood).  Sure enough the rejection letters trickled in, and I was flooded with feelings of self-doubt. After Brown, was UT Austin (the hardest blow), and then Columbia. I suppose rejections come in threes as well. I’m still waiting to hear back from two schools, but it’s not promising. The first moment you open the letter and read “We regret…” is the worst. Your heart sinks; your stomach turns. Columbia really knows how to kick a dog when it’s down. Its rejection letter was the most pretentious letter I’ve ever read. No really, I had to look up one of the words they used. As if all of us reading the letter don’t feel stupid enough.  I spent about $500 applying to schools and about $80,000 on a fancy masters degree and so far I’m three for nothing. At first I felt so disappointed in myself. I kept telling myself that this past year of shitty jobs and too much Netflix was ok because come September I’d be hitting the books again, getting a PhD. I moped for a couple days and of course because life has a cruel sense of humor, and because I work with babies, who are really just receptacles for viruses and bacteria, I was sick as well as academically rejected.  I contract a stomach virus and Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (a virus that usually only toddlers get) I had a fever, soar throat and a painful, itchy rash on my hands and feet. Between stress about not getting into schools and the painful rash, I couldn’t sleep. I paced back and forth in my apartment in the middle of the night, rubbing my itchy, red hands together. Who would have thought that a toddler’s virus could make me look like lady Macbeth in the “out damned spot” scene. Needless to say it’s been rough.

I allowed myself a couple days in the flood, but then it was time to come in out of the rain. Now I’ve decided to look at my rejection letters as acceptance letters to a new life adventure. After my interview with UT Austin, when I thought it might be a possibility, I got my hopes up and started researching the city and, being that I have a tendency to be over zealous, I started looking at apartments on craigslist. After living in my crappy, unheated, Bushwick apartment for the past year, all the less expensive places in Austin seemed luxurious.  I found myself getting excited about things like a washer and drying in the building and stainless steal kitchen appliances. Performance as Public Practice at UT Austin is my dream program. Living in Texas would have been economically more comfortable than my like in NY. My girlfriend would look pretty hot driving a truck, and I think I could really pull off turquoise jewelry and a pair of cow girl boots, but I am not yet ready to be the kind of woman who is excited about stainless steal kitchen appliances! That’s how it all starts; first a great apartment in a safe neighborhood, then I’d get my PhD, and hopefully start my career, and before you know it I’m all settled down and having my girl friend’s baby! Maybe these rejections are for the best. Maybe I need another year in this liminal space. I’ve always been so responsible and structured. Maybe I need a little chaos, more time off, an adventure! I want to travel. I want to be the abnoxious American sipping coffee in a Parisian café, while reading Molière (I imagine Jacque Brel somehow playing in the background). I want to eat paella in Spain and see a play at the globe theatre in London. My girl friend and I have no money and I don’t even have a passport but I know we will make this happen! Sometimes after the flood comes clarity.

-Jenna

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