The first time I was introduced to Carnegie Stage and off the WALL Productions was in 2017, while auditioning for the Pittsburgh New Works Festival. I had just moved to Pittsburgh from Boston, MA and I didn’t know a soul. Needless to say, everyone was very nice and more than one actor quickly let me know that off the WALL Productions was an ‘excellent theater company’, owned and managed by two ‘very special’ people, Ginny and Hans Gruenert. Hmm. That’s nice, I thought.
At the end of 2018, I returned to Carnegie Stage to audition for off the WALL Productions’ world premiere of Mumburger. I hadn’t been to the theater since the year before (don’t tell Hans and Ginny) so the place was still new to me. While waiting my turn to audition, I walked down the corridor behind the theater to find rows of colorful posters, highlighting scenes from off the WALL Productions’ last twelve seasons of shows. These were shows starring actors I’d met in the community, shows directed by women, produced by women, in plays often times written by women. People had told me Ginny and Hans were passionate about creating inclusive and diverse theater, and I could see it for myself in the photos before me.
Mid 2019, I returned to off the WALL Productions to see World Builders. Hans and Ginny were looking for help in the box office and funnily enough, I was looking for another part time gig. I started working at the theater almost right away, and it didn’t take me long to realize for myself, that they are indeed special people.
Carnegie Stage and off the WALL Productions, with their small yet dedicated staff, works tirelessly to produce interesting, new and meaningful works for the stage, while creating employment opportunities for actors, writers, painters and dancers when they’re not busy doing their craft. Carnegie Stage actively seeks out local artists offering them a space to share their stories, hosting a different show nearly every weekend (when off the WALL Productions is not in repertory).
Today, I do less box office and more this kind of stuff- blog writing and social media content creation for the off the WALL Productions and Carnegie Stage, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of the team. It’s not easy being an artist today; I’m not sure it it’s ever been easy. Ginny and Hans have created a haven for artists in a time when art, laughter, music, dance, theater and community are more important than ever.
In the videos below, learn how off the WALL Productions got its start and why Artistic Director Virginia ‘Ginny’ Gruenert thinks theater is still so important today.
Have you liked what you’ve seen at off the WALL Productions? They can use your support!