I was very excited to work at GPT, as I had heard many great things about the place. I would say after my experience there, I would not go back if Marc Libey were still the AD.
The town is great, and most of the people are great, but if you have any artistic integrity this place is not for you. Marc does not do his research before directing shows. I heard, "we are doing it the GPT way", which means "I didn't read the play or research the musical before we dove into this, so I am just going to cut things I don't understand."
Also, it's tiring working for a theater that before every show the AD begs for money in the curtain speech. Maybe you should get more creative with your fund raising or apply for some grants. Begging is embarrassing to the actors as well as the theater.
The people I met were very talented, but the shows were mediocre. Unfortunately the actors were mostly miscast.
Thank God they got rid of the costumer who was married to someone on the board, because the costumes were embarrassing. Once she was gone, things got a bit better.
Could this place be awesome? Absolutely!! The housing was fine, and the hours aren't crazy. To put it simply, Marc is just unqualified. Someone who knows how to be an AD needs to take over.
I don't think you fully appreciate the difficulties that a theatre like GPT faces in meeting its budget and actually paying people to work there. The folks that run that theatre are presenting material to a very specific audience. If there aren't butts in the seats, there are no more plays.
With respect, any actor should be thrilled to have a job at all.
I'm going to guess from your post that you're a relatively young actor. I'm saying this because I think the longer you're in the game the more you realise that you are indeed lucky to be working at all, much less working at a place as supportive and simple as GPT.
Also- and perhaps your mom never told you this- if you can't say anything nice, you probably shouldn't say anything at all. It'll be MUCH better for your career.
One last thing: If you think you can do it better, GO DO IT. There is tons of room out there for theatre professionals of integrity, such as yourself. Go out there and get those grants, find the space, get the crew and PUT ON YOUR OWN INCREDIBLE (un-edited) SHOW.
I absolutely disagree with this,. it was also my first summer with GPT.
the fact that this was written in a public forum publicly bashing a man who has kept a theatre running for YEARS and who gave you a paying job, you should be ashamed. It is one thing to feel your personal thoughts, but to go this far can really hurt someone. Do you run a theatre? Are you in charge of a company that big and responsible for all those people and the entire community? no you are not. You are an actor who chose to work for this company. And you know what? Marc works his butt off everyday to run a Theatre in a tiny community and on a budget. And he managed to not only put up show after show after show this summer but also to costume each one, pay his actors, AND run the movie theatre. Not to mention create lifelong friendships. Marc chose WONDERFUL actors this summer. He fixed problems as they arose and did everything he could to keep everything the way it should be. When the current costumer was out of line, he fired her. When the theatre hit a rough patch he didn't beg the actors to help, he took on the burden by himself and it wasnt until the actors came to him to help that he accepted. he "begged" for money because he believes so deeply in GPT and would do anything to stop it from crumbling. He did his duty as an artistic director and went above and beyond to ensure the community was satisfied and his actors were happy.
You should be ashamed for writing this in a public forum about a man who put a roof over your head an a paycheck in your hand each week. Not all theatres can be broadway, or touring companies, or cruise ships, or big name theatres. But it's the little place like Great Plains theatre that I will remember for the rest of my life. Those theatres on my résumé that I will look back to and be so proud and have the fondest of memories. Marc isn't perfect... but are you? Do you think you can successfully run GPT like he did?
My hunch is no. In fact ABSOLUTELY NO.
I would personally like to thank Marc Liby for hiring me this summer and giving me the opportunity to grow and learn as an actor, and to have such a fun and entertaining summer and everlasting memories.
And if I were to EVER write something in bad taste like this I wouldn't be a coward and I would have the balls to sign my name to my statement
Dear Former castmate,
Hey. We did summerstock together! I had a great time, I'm sorry you don't feel the same way. Not even a "....but I met some awesome people and had fun." Ouch.
As you know, this is a small world. Everyone uses AU, and I am very disappointed that you would attack GPT like this. Marc has kept that place running for years, and there is a reason it is "the miracle on mulberry st.". They gave you a job, EMC points, a roof over your head, and an environment to hone your craft. Also a paycheck.
I'm sorry you didn't see it that way. I thought my colleagues were bigger than that. Please don't use a pubic forum like this to, pardon my french, bitch and moan that you think you're better than GPT. Your immaturity in this post is telling me that you're not.
Answer me this...would you want Marc to see this post? My guess is no.
I just saw this for the first time and almost couldn't believe someone would say that. Just goes to show you how two faced some people can be. I also worked for Marc at GPT this past summer and it was an experience I'll never forget. I not only met some great people and created great contacts for the future, but I also am lucky enough to call all of those people my friends. None of that would have been possible without Marc or GPT.
I can remember last year around this time when I auditioned for Marc, and then again when I saw him at another audition a few months later. Each time I really was impressed with how he kept up a professional front, but you could also tell that he truly was interested in getting to know you as a person too. You don't find that much at all these days, and especially not in the theatre world.
Working for GPT not only helped me gain experience, but really helped me gain confidence. It was my first professional summer stock, and one that I feel as though I really grew from doing.
The comment made about the original costumer was an unfortunate situation. With that being said, though, the situation couldn't have been handled better. Marc was constantly making sure we were filled in on what was going on, and he was always there when we had a question or concern, whether it be that situation or anything else that summer.
For a director to bend over backwards to make sure his actors are having the most stress free, fun summer ever really says a lot of the character and people who make GPT happen year in and year out.
The financial situation experienced last summer was a scary and unfortunate one for the theatre, but asking the patrons for donations was hardly looked upon as begging. Everything that was donated and done was all of people's own free will. No one begged or forced anyone to donate. Even the actors, who (for the most part) were first timers, all came together on days off to try and raise money and donate.
I just wanted to thank whoever reads this and say that the opinion of one actor/actress who worked for GPT is NOT the opinions of the rest of us. I can tell you personally that I had the summer of my life and if I'm lucky enough to get cast in a show there again, I'll absolutely go back to work for Marc and GPT!
Alright - my turn.
First of all, let me begin by saying that I hate the cowardice of the anonymity of a message board like this - so, just so we're all clear who's doing the talking, this is Michael Misko, Marketing Director at Great Plains Theatre, fellow actor and good friend of Marc Liby (which, by the way, has no "e" in its spelling. I do realize it's trite to correct one's spelling like this…but so is bashing someone's personal reputation in a public forum. Let us say we're even…well…allow me to finish and then we'll think about it).
Now before you go on assuming that I've got a biased opinion, let me say that while, yes, my opinion is slightly biased because of my relationship to the theatre - do not forget that I am (and have always been) an (educated) ACTOR FIRST! I've gone through four years of professional training - received my Bachelor's degree, worked professionally for an additional four years all over the country, working at union and non-union theaters alike and am currently in pursuit of my Master's degree. I have ACTUALLY worked with sub-par artistic directors in my career - all of whom shall remain anonymous for fear of stooping to your level of tactlessness. I emphasize "actually" because I prefer to draw as stark a contrast as possible between the aforementioned sub-standard ADs and Marc Liby - for there is not thing one sub-par about this man.
Moving on to the dissection of your second paragraph, I must say I do agree with two of your statements. The town IS great, and most of the people ARE great. That's about it, though. Marc doesn't do his research? "I'm going to cut things I don't understand?" Well…aside from you clear use of assumptions (you know what they say…), let me ask what better research could there possibly be than working in the SAME place for 15 years? Marc knows this town and he knows the people. He knows what they want and what they don't. Allow me to explain to you what the "GPT way" is - for it seems you didn't fully grasp that concept this summer: The GPT way is bringing a group of people together that have never met before and making theatre happen (in a small midwest town that has relatively no other culture) where it never was before. The GPT way is an ACTOR FIRST mentality - providing young actors (old, too) a safe place to create and cultivate their long-missed acting roots…while getting PAID. There are too many theaters today that focus only on pumping out theatre like a machine, taking no time to finesse it and allow the art to rise like the cream it is. The GPT way is not taking the work TOO seriously - pausing to remember that we're doing what we love and that we COULD be flipping burgers at McDonald's. The GPT way is making something out of nothing - i.e., the things we are able to produce with the minuscule budget we have is nothing short of amazing. The GPT way is molding certain elements of specific shows to fit the requests of the conservative audience base…so, "cutting things I don't understand" now takes on a new meaning, yes? The GPT way IS Marc Liby. Period.
Yes - it IS tiring working for a theatre that is always in need of money. I can most definitely agree with that statement. As someone who has worked here long before (and since) this summer I can attest to the fact that worrying about money on a daily basis is a very frustrating thing. I do hope you realize that as a non-profit 501c3 theatre company - we HAVE to depend on donations to continue to survive. That's how a non-profit works! When Marc is "begging" for donations before the show, he's doing the same thing that ANY non-profit artistic director does - ask for donations. See? That's how it works…you have to ask for them to get them. They don't just magically show up. The situation this summer was something a little different - I'll give you that. But it's certainly not fair of you to throw around terms like "begging" or "embarrassing" when you don't know the full story of HOW the theatre got into its current financial state - I could go into detail, but based on what I've read in your above statements, I feel it would fall on deaf ears. Marc shouldered the burden by himself for quite a while. It was only when the financial state became "door-closing" dangerous that Marc alerted the cast. If you recall…and you should, because we were ALL in the same dressing room when he came to speak to us…Marc informed us as to what was going on as soon as it became necessary for us to know. It was US, the ACTORS, that asked HIM what we could do to help. I'll say that again - WE went to MARC and said, "we love this theatre, what can we do to help?" He never, EVER asked anything of us other than to show up with a good attitude and continue to do our work. Did it even occur to you that if the "embarrassing begging" that when on didn't happen - WE WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN PAID! Did you ALSO know that the staff, Marc and the rest of us…didn't get paid on time so the actors could? No. You didn't. And - just so we're clear - the staff did that voluntarily. Marc never asked that of us, either. Also - the money HAS been raised (the "Between a Rock and Paradise" fundraiser we had this summer was one of the most successful in our history) and grants ARE available…but grant WRITERS cost money! Perhaps you should do your research before you go throwing terms or phrases around that you don't fully understand. This paragraph of yours disgusts me. Shame on you.
I do hope that, as a fellow actor, you are including yourself among the "miscast" actors. Since when did it become the job of the actor to criticize the vision of the director and/or his casting? I'm certain that those roles have not been reversed…please correct me if I'm wrong.
Yes…thank God we got rid of the costumer, because as we all know, it's the quality of the costumes that make the piece of theatre good. If the costumes were sub-par we could NEVER put on a decent show with good work. It's good that we got rid of the costumer because she was bringing a negative energy (much like the one of your post) into the theatre. There is no place for that at GPT. Or here, for that matter.
Could this place be awesome? Yes…it could and it is. Under Marc Liby's leadership, the business has fiscally flipped $90,000, we've developed an education program, broadened our reach by adding concerts and showing first-run movies…all while continuing to maintain a reputation with the Actors' Equity Association and staying the ONLY professional theatre between Kansas City and Denver, producing live professional theatre for the small community of Abilene and the rest of the central Kansas region. That didn't just happen on its own…that was Marc.
In closing - your remarks are inaccurate, immature, untrue and hurtful. You need to really take a look at what theatre really means to you and I do hope that somewhere in there you find the word "narcissism", "vanity" or "self-obsession" and learn how to remove them from it. I wish you the best in this profession…because you're going to need all the well-wishes you can get if you continue acting like this. Bear this in mind - as I worked with my fellow actors this summer (there were 26 of us), I formed strong friendships with most of them. Sooner or later I'll whittle it down and figure out who you are. It's inevitable. A simple process of elimination..and remember - this theatre world of ours is a tiny one - but mighty, too. It'd be a shame if you pissed off the wrong person and it came back to bite you one day. Again - I wish you the best.
As a side note, Marc has just announced his resignation from the GPT, as of August 31, 2013. There will be a job opening and a national search for his position. I welcome you to apply if you think you could do better - although based on the ignorance of your statements, I would suggest an intense crash course in theatre, grammar and human ethics.
Marketing Director, Great Plains Theatre
I am responding to this post out of sheer embarrassment.
Like...wait....WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
Hi. My name is MJ Jurgensen. I have worked at GPT for two summers and will be returning there this winter. I have functioned at GPT as a music director, actor, usher, movie-goer, improv-er, and more.
Times be tough, y'all. Anyone noticed yet? Theatres are NOT rolling in the big bucks. Stress is high. Noticed? Yeah...me too. And guess what? It's happening EVERYWHERE. Did you become an actress so you could roll in money and be treated like a princess? I sure did not.
I am writing on this post for Marc Liby. I am writing on this post for Doug Nuttelman, Michael Misko, Jimilee Rempe, Greg Krumins, Dorianne Rees, and the incredible group of people who were involved with Summer 2012 at GPT. I am writing this post so that YOU CAN KNOW that the majority of us realized this summer was hard. But we worked hard. And we cared. And we would never create such slander on the world wide web.
Good luck my friend. Your road in the theatre world will be long and hard if you maintain this attitude.
...that's right. Put my name twice up in this biznass.
All I want to say is "THANK YOU, Marc!" Thank you for always reminding me to stay humble and to have self confidence! Fellow cast mate from this summer, your above remark is very rude, vain, disgusting, and above all uncalled for. I'm sorry you aren't able to be strong and reveal yourself so that the rest of this wonderful acting world can know who you are. I want to also thank Abilene for welcoming not only me but anyone that works for GPT into your quaint little town, and for supporting us actors faster than anyone I've ever met. Not only was it amazing when my fellow actors stepped forward at the end of our shows to show their support in raising money for this wonderful little equity theatre, but I know we did it to help Marc out too and show that we want this place to stay alive just as much as he does! I want to again thank Marc Liby! Thank you Marc for not only being a dad, a director, a fellow actor, but most importantly a good friend whom I will always support and work with for the rest of my life!
ugh. Y'all... I typed this long response and it was beautiful and then the site crashed.
so, anyway, HEY! It's Halley Electra Mayo... GPT is a miracle. GPT is a testament to Abilene, KS, the staff of GPT, the sponsors and the actors. The problems or triumphs of a theatre are not only one man's burden or accomplishment.
As I typed above I had something a lot better than this earlier, but GPT rocks. I've always had a good time. I've done 13 shows there and will go back. Yes, like anyone else, I've had issues with certain things at GPT and on those occasions, I've gone to Marc to talk it out.
But, y'all... everyone is gonna have problems. I get that the purpose of "gig and tell" is to let people know what you thought of a job you had. So, prospective GPT peeps, I've always had a great time at GPT... made some amazing lifelong friends, met the love of my life, performed roles I never would have been cast as anywhere else and have gotten really tan (always wear sunscreen).
I will say... this industry is so hard. Let's do our best to cut each other some slack and lift each other up. I'll always be proud to say I've worked at GPT and Marc Liby is a close friend... so... back off.
GPT! You know me!
I like Marc.
He smells nice.
(Seriously, he's a bamf as you can see from all the support garnered here. )
First off- the purpose of this section as I understand it is to empower actors with information about various theatre companies so that we may all may be better informed about different companies when making career decisions. If this person felt compelled to write negative things based on their experience, so be it. Bashing them for their opinions is much less productive than countering with the many positive virtues of the company.
That being said, I also worked there this summer and have a markedly different perspective on GPT. I very much enjoyed the laid back, friendly vibe created by Marc and the staff. I very much enjoyed the season of shows, the housing, and the community. As an actor, working with Marc was great because he directs with the strengths of his performers in mind. Even though I've been known to be a purist, Marc's different takes on his shows always strike me as exciting and theatrical. I would work with him again in a heartbeat, and I guess that's the bottom line.
REVEAL YOURSELF, SAGE!!!! WE KNOW YOU DID THISSSSSSSSSS!!!!
That was me... ^^^....MJ, again.
I usually don't get involved in things like this, but I cannot ignore this. I am Jimi Rempe and I am a staff member of the Great Plains Theatre. I am replying because I feel attacked (if you attack one of us...you have attacked us all) I am going to address you (the anonymous author of this post...even though, I think many folks know who you are) differently than some of the others...with whom I respect very much.
I just want you to know that when you were here at GPT you were cared for. You were treated well. You were taken care of to the best of my/our ability.
Even though I don't know exactly who posted this, it doesn't matter, because I would say the same thing to all the actors who come to GPT.
So I will continue...you were thanked, you were regarded highly, you didn't have to endure a tech rehearsal lasting past 11:00 PM. You were spoken to kindly, you were granted certain concessions, you were complimented, we greeted you with smiles, you were given priority (I echo Mike Misko...we did volunteer to forgo our own pay to make sure you were paid), your requests were never met with a "no" but with a "I will try my best," your stories were listened to, your feelings were considered, your sorrows became our sorrows, your joys became our joys. You were not treated like a number or an animal. You were given compassion, sympathy, empathy, backs to lean on, and shoulders to cry on. You were important!
I guess this reply is to those who are considering GPT. This is how you are going to be treated, all of you. You may not agree with everything artistically and that's ok, as artists we can't agree with everything...it's not in our nature. You are not going to find a theatre that is perfect and does everything "right". But I can tell you, I will give you all that I mentioned above. The choice to be grateful or ungrateful is yours.
Can I just say I love how much of a family we still are and have come together to defend that an the person who brought us all together.
And I stand by what I said in my earlier post from today. the person who wrote this should be ashamed. And it really is cowardice to write such a thing because they know it remains anonymous.
I'm so proud to call you all part of my family (or most of you) and shame on this person for writing this. The ONLY positive thing this post accomplished was bringing us all together to defend what we love.
Miss and love you all
I could write a million things I loved about my summer and take up a lot of time, or I can just say...what Misko said!
I am embarrassed for the anonymous poster who had the time and the wherewithal, but neither the intellect nor the experience, to take a swipe at the Artistic Director of Great Plains Theatre.
I have had the great good luck to spend time performing at GPT, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I was encouraged to work outside my comfort zone, with the caveat that there was always someone who had my back, and would tell me the truth. I am a better performer, and a more open and tolerant person, because of my collective GPT experiences.
When I hear someone speak out of ignorance, I do my best not to address their missteps directly; I often find this less than constructive. People who want to know my opinion generally ask me for it, and if they haven’t asked, they really don’t want to know what I think. But I make an exception in a case where a third party could potentially be damaged or maligned in some way, and a gesture from me might make a difference. So just a few words from someone with forty-one years of fine arts experience, nine years as a member of AEA, twenty years as a member of AGMA, as performer, director, musical director, choreographer, board member, and grant writer:
Every director has his or her unique style. What seems a breezy comment may be just that, an attempt to lighten the moment, and to help the collective team relax. To make a judgment about a director’s preparation is a hopeless exercise that only takes away time from the performer’s own preparation.
To make a comment about unfortunate casting, when one has been cast themselves, is trifling.
To have an expectation that any arts organization should handle their fundraising in a different manner than might seem obvious to an individual completely outside the financial dealings of said organization can be likened to making assumptions about another’s marriage bed. I am guessing that the poster in question is not an artistic director, and perhaps has never been one. The method of fund-raising mentioned in this post is usual, and proven successful. All of the theatre professionals that I have known despise this routine and the necessity of their direct involvement; but it works, the arts are underfunded, and we all do what must be done to survive. If this piece of the arts puzzle is truly troubling, a different career path might be in order for this individual, as it is certain to occur again.
And to write in a public forum about any individual who has deigned to give one a job in an industry that is plump with talent and at the same time shriveled in opportunity while remaining anonymous and misspelling the person’s name is an act that bespeaks both cowardice and witlessness.
I'll keep this brief as possible, as I feel the gamut of responses has been fairly extensive.
My name is Andy Brown, and I had the pleasure of working with Marc in 2008 and 2009 and would again in a heartbeat. GPT is a grassroots house that provides quality productions to an otherwise artistically underserved area. Couple that with the lovely community, tirelessly working staff, and dedicated artists, and it's just amazing what is created there.
A word on "the GPT version" of a show. Whereas your interpretation of that is to assume that research has not been done on a given script, my experience with Marc is that he doesn't want to present the same, tired production that might be given elsewhere. He wants to keep it fresh and utilize the talents and ideas of the artists he is collaborating with. I felt that we always had a voice in the process, that it was collaborative and always presented with integrity and honesty. I watched a production of "Lend Me a Tenor" there in 2010, I believe, that rocked my socks. And if that was indicative of a "GPT version of a show," bring it on!
I sympathize with any artistic institution that has to fundraise in this economy. Is it something that an artist might not want to have to hear about? Sure. But it's the reality of the business. And it has to be done. People, particularly in smaller regions, don't always understand the kind of money it takes to produce theatre. Non-profit is not for the faint of heart.
Can fault be found with any theatre? Of course. And you're entitled to share those opinions. But your arguments aren't as constructively framed as they could be. Just something to consider as you continue on in the business. Be careful not to burn bridges.
My first reaction when reading this long string of comments was...wow, this is a bit of an overreaction, isn't it?
So someone didn't have a great experience working at that theater. Big deal. Everyone is allowed to have a personal opinion, and the point of forums like this is so that people can voice these opinions without fear of being personally persecuted. There's nothing cowardly about not wanting to post your public information on an anonymous forum.
I don't know this person, or this theater. Have this person's comments affected whether or not I will want to work with this theater in the future? Not really. But I will say the extent to which you have all ganged up on him/her simply because that person doesn't share your views has really turned me off. I wouldn't want to work with people who will ostracize me simply for having a different opinion.
If one person had a negative experience, you have to consider that perhaps other people have as well, and just didn't say anything. Take the bad with the good. Learn from it. Don't be such a martyr.
To the person who called all those who commented "martyrs." You're correct everyone is entitled to their opinion, and people just need to deal with that. But, a public forum is a tricky place to voice your opinion. Yes, this forum allows for you to remain anonymous (which frankly is a good thing). But when you voice your opinion to the pubic there are potential consequences. Just because you are allowed to have an opinion, doesn't mean everyone has to agree and nod along(especially when you go after a specific person). Obviously, there are people out there who are very passionate about this theatre, and care about it very much. Which makes me think the original poster is a diva and he or she didn't get his or her way all the time.
I am like you, I don't know this theatre, the original post didn't really do anything for me. But, the many people who commented after did. Unlike you, I am now very interested in this theatre. Look at the support they were given in this forum! That's what a theatre family does, they stick up for each other. No one is falling on their sword (or being a martyr) they are doing exactly what the original poster did, expressing their opinion. That's the rule of the internet, be careful what you post, you may not like the result.
Has anyone worked at GPT in the last two years? Any word on how things are going now under different direction and/or since the fire last season? I'm not even going to think about involving myself in the rest of the debate that happened on this forum other than to say: this industry's difficult, and the least we can do is support each other!
I AM curious about the current state of things. and any more recent information. Thanks, all!
I just wrote a long response and the website deleted it...wah. I'll type what I can remember:
I can only echo what everyone has responded with. It's great to see everyone come together, because we were a family this last summer, and it is nice to see we still are.
GPT is a miracle of a theatre (as Halley says) and Marc is the reason for that. It is a place that truly cares about their actors, and they put on wonderful productions in an area that wouldn't have any sort of theatre otherwise. Marc and the wonderful staff (hey guys!) got the theatre through an incredibly harsh time and came out on top, and ALWAYS put the actors' needs before their own. That is the sign of true care, and I can't even fathom how you could consider it a bad experience.
Marc is a wonderful director and an amazing person, and I am both a better actor and person for having worked with him. It's a shame that someone that feels this way has to express their opinion gossiping on some website, when they could have express their issues to Marc and seen if something constructive could have come out of it. It baffles me that people think posts like this will get any sort of good result.
GPT is a wonderful, wonderful place and I would work there again in a heartbeat.
Love and miss you all dearly, and hope to work with you guys again in the future.
I worked in a production of Joseph a few years ago and also had a wonderful experience. As an actor at the Great Plains Theatre you are more than just another out of town performer coming in to do a gig, you quickly become a friend. I was embraced by Marc and a wonderful community of GPT supporters and I would do another show in a heartbeat.
I found Marc's ability to bring together a group of easy going, kind spirited, performers particularly impressive. I'm still in touch with several "Joe Bro's" and even had the opportunity to put on a staged reading of a new play I was working on while I was there. If you are considering a position at the Great Plains Theatre, hurry up and embrace one of of the best theatre experiences the Mid West has to offer.
I just called someone a witless coward without posting my name. I'm Aaron Hunt. I am new to Audition Update and didn't realize my name wouldn't post. I approve both this message and the last one I wrote. firstname.lastname@example.org
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