Thank God I Was at the 14th Street Y Gala!

Turns out Rachel Pegram was the perfect person to kick off the 14th Street Y’s annual gala. She teaches at the school; she’s in the building every day of the week. And her connection to the community was palpable in the room. Rachel started the night off with a bang, putting everyone at ease with her enthusiasm and her quick wit. She’s funny! Chantal Pavageaux, artistic director of The In[heir]itance Project, was sitting next to me at the gala. And as soon as Rachel left the stage, she leaned over and whispered in my ear: “I think we found our actress.”

One of the plays we’re bringing to the Genesis Plays festival at the 14th Street Y in May was created in Austin, Texas. It explores the story of the biblical patriarch Jacob. It’s a WWE-style wrestling event. And the play needs a dynamic actress to play the role of Rebecca (Jacob’s mother and trainer who also doubles as the ringside announcer for the play). We hadn’t found someone yet to play that role. We wanted someone funny, dynamic, and connected to the Y community. Enter Rachel Pegram.

Last week, Chantal, our producer Martha Goode, and I met up with Rachel in the Theater at the 14th Street Y. It may have felt like a tag-team match, one against three, but Rachel said, “Yes!” It’s been a real thrill experiencing the synthesis that happens between an artist and a community over the course of a residency. Between Pause/Play text salons, study sessions with Bubba Faye, meetings with Downtown Jewish Life, and everyday interactions in the Y, I have begun to feel a real sense of belonging, of membership. Having Rachel join the production just reinforces that feeling. Having her enthusiasm and quick wit on stage in The Jacob Play is icing on the cake.

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