Peanut butter and jelly.
Oreos and milk.
Rock climbing and theater.
While the last two don’t initially sound like a natural pairing, Grace, or the Art of Climbing merges them in a way that feels as if they belong with one another.
On March 25, we were invited to check out Grace, or The Art of Climbing at Jersey City’s Art House Productions. The show ties climbing (thanks to the theater’s partnership with The Gravity Vault Hoboken) and the arts in a 90-minute live event. The play was deep, interactive, and engaging.
The narrative follows Emm (played by the super-talented Emily Kitchens) from a time when she’s lost in her life through her self-awakening through climbing.
Competitive climbing helps her piece her life together and realize her worth and purpose. The small cast, compromised of her family and friends, was phenomenal as well and kept the audience engaged through their dialogues, songs, and (of course) interactive climbing scenes.
We first meet Emm during a dark time in her life as the play opens with her facing difficulty to wake up before 3pm. As we learn more about her character coming face to face with what caused her depression, we were presented with many quotes that I enjoyed just as much (if not more) than my daily Shine texts.
My top five favorite were:
“Today’s goal is to climb more than yesterday which shouldn’t be hard.”
“The number one rule of climbing, know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.”
“If you’re falling you’re not climbing hard enough.”
“Loosen but never let go.”
“The real rule of climbing is to climb with grace.”
Life metaphors aside, I left feeling excited and grateful to have witnessed what the cast brought to life from playwright L.M. Feldman. I’d never been to a show quite like this and hope I have the privilege of attending another.
After the show, we spoke with the team at Art House Productions and the Creative Director, Meredith Burns. We spoke about their mission, their partnership with Gravity Vault, and how their latest production ties into their overall offerings.
What would you like viewers of the show to take away?
AHP: I think it's unique to each person, I wouldn't want to assign personal meaning, but in general it would be great if people walked away inspired to pursue their passions with persistence; perseverance, in the face of difficulties.
How did the Gravity Vault partnership come to fruition?
AHP: When we decided to produce Grace, or The Art of Climbing we reached out to them and asked if they'd be interested in some cross-promotion. They agreed and it grew from there. They wound up providing our actors with rock climbing training which was invaluable to the production. They also provided materials like all the ropes you saw in the production and the hand holds used. We organized a fun night for their membership base and they helped promote. They have a similar mentality to theater folk in that it's really all about creating a community and it's so nice to see our two strong communities overlap.
Tell us about the June comedy show and future productions in 2018?
AHP: Here is the website - https://6thboroughcomedyfest.com/ We have over 60 comedians (sketch, improv, and stand ups) locally and from around the country. We are partnering with JCTC, White Eagle Hall, and FM Jersey City. It runs for four days June 7th - June 10th. Gilbert Gottfried is headlining! The website will be updated with the lineup soon.
What inspired you to take residence in the Cast Iron Lofts?
AHP: We were offered a partnership with Manhattan Building Company and we gladly accepted. Manhattan Building Company built out our space without any cost to us. We're incredibly grateful and we're excited to be part of the development of this neighborhood !
Can you share the mission of Art House Productions?
AHP: We provide a home for innovative performing, visual, and literary artists to develop new work. We present emerging and under-recognized artists who are making significant contributions to their respective fields, and serve as a safe space for established artists to take creative risks. With choosing Grace, or The Art of Climbing, we wanted to dive into a very physical show that utilizes human strength and skill, as well as creating a visually complex and very physical world in our space for the actors to play in. But in the end, it's in order to tell a deeply emotional story.
The vision of Art House Productions is to be recognized as a destination for the performing and visual arts in Jersey City, where our varied and abundant arts scene creates a vital community that attracts and welcomes artists as educators, entrepreneurs, mentors and citizens. Through this show, we've made a connection to our neighbors at Gravity Vault in Hoboken, a local rock climbing gym, to help bring this story to life. This was an unusual but very exciting and rewarding partnership.
Since 2001, Art House has been a pioneering force in the Jersey City Arts movement, supporting artists in the creation and presentation of primarily new work, and encouraging artistic growth and experimentation across all mediums, while fostering a widespread appreciation for the arts in our community. From theater productions to gallery exhibitions to multi-media art festivals, Art House is focused on the mantra home is where the art is.
Interested in seeing Grace, or The Art of Climbing? Tickets are on sale here and the last show is April 1st, so don't delay. The show runs Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 and Sundays at 3pm. Adult tickets are $25 and Student/Senior/Disability are $18.