And Then There Were 21

Kristen Coury is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Gulfshore Playhouse. She will be blogging every Saturday throughout the 2014-2015 season. 

You must forgive me. Gulfshore Playhouse is experiencing a growth spurt. And while growth spurts sometimes include growing pains, and we’ve had a few of those this summer as well, things are settling down and settling in, and I find myself quite often bouche bee as they say in French, which is literally translated to “mouth open” but which google translates to agape without an accent and speechless with the accent.

a·gape1

əˈgāp/
adjective

1. (of the mouth) wide open, especially with surprise or wonder.

speech·less

ˈspēCHlis/
adjective

1. unable to speak, especially as the temporary result of shock or some strong emotion.

Yep. That about sums it up. I have been feeling some strong emotion which has left my mouth open wide with wonder. It hasn’t happened often over these ten years since I started Gulfshore Playhouse in the back of my apartment, and I can almost remember the times that it did. The first time we actually had a cast and crew outing back in 2007. Sometime around 2010 (it’s a blur.) And today.

Today, as we gathered in the theatre to enjoy the first read of THE MOUNTAINTOP, directed by the fabulous Cody Nickell and acted/read today by the fantastic Jamil Mangan and Felicia Curry, I was dumbstruck when I realized we couldn’t all fit around the table, so I started counting heads.

There were a total of 21 people in that room today. People paid by Gulfshore Playhouse. A company that has been in business for 10 years now and that has grown 500% in the last six years. And, like the grinch, “my heart grew three sizes” at that moment.

It is not pride that I feel.

It is gratitude for the opportunity to serve – our region, our nation and our art. It is humility, knowing that I certainly couldn’t have gone from an event a year out of my back room to a thriving arts institution without every single generous donor, theatre-loving patron, talented artist, tireless staff person, dedicated board member and loving angel that has sat upon my shoulder. I know that without a doubt.

I’m seeing a pattern about these blogs. They very often include exchanges with Cody Nickell. Well that makes sense. He’s the artistic right hand of the institution which means we interact a lot. The other night, after the New Works Festival was over, a festival he largely organized, and of course lent his immensely talented acting chops to, I told him I had often asked myself how we got so lucky to have him in our company for over two years. His response: “Are you kidding me? There was a call, and I answered it.”

And I burst into tears. Really deep, heaving, sobbing tears. Even now, as I write this, I have tears in my eyes.

Because I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know how or why I landed in Naples by accident that day 11 years ago. I don’t know how I convinced my then husband to impulsively go back to New York City and put the co-op apartment on the market and move lock-stock-and-barrel to Napunnamed (1)les, Florida. I don’t know how I got the gumption, courage or sheer stupidity to decide to start a professional theatre company in a town where I knew no one, had no funds, and didn’t even have a name for the organization. I don’t know why the Universe answered when I sat on the beach and said, “Open the doors and I will walk through them.”

All I know is this: There was a call, and I answered it. And I’m incredibly glad that I did.

4 thoughts on “And Then There Were 21

  1. Pingback: A Day in the Life | The Playhouse Perspective

  2. Kristen ……How incredibly lucky we all are here in Naples that you followed your heart and started Gulfshore Playhouse.
    A BIG Thank You to you and the whole company. I, too, have tears of gratitude for all the hard work, long hours and sleepless nights that go into creating the wonderful productions Gulfshore Playhouse is known for.

Tell us what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s