President’s Blog December 31, 2020


Well, we made it.

2020 has presented challenges from all directions and brought us major changes in how we live. And still we end with a reminder, in this most exuberant of seasons, that love and compassion for one another will win the day.

It is in this spirit and with this knowledge that we here at Pull-Tight have forged ahead! Though we closed our doors to the public with the pandemic, in private we continue to work on our eventual return. I hope that we can make an announcement on that front within the coming days.

I cannot begin to thank enough the dedicated volunteers of Pull-Tight, as well as the City of Franklin, for their patience and devotion to our theatre as we navigate into 2021 and beyond. The nebulous swirl of life, not revealing what may come next, certainly has taxed us all in various ways. I am amazed at the potential within all of us to keep pressing onward.

Though times may seem dark, here are some highlights of our 2020.

Waiting in the Wings

Waiting in the Wings completed its run and showcased some of the brassiest (and occasionally bawdiest) women “of a certain age” the greater Nashville area has to offer! Anchored by performances by Linda Speir and JK Gregg, this Noel Coward dramedy reminded us all that age is just a number, and that life is truly for the living. 

JK Gregg as May and Linda Speir as Lotta
in Waiting in the Wings

The Real Inspector Hound

The Real Inspector Hound remains on hold, but will be the first show to grace the stage in our theatre when life is back to normal. Director Tom Gregg and his fantastic cast and crew have shown incredible patience and are rarin’ to go! Meet the cast and crew and read more about this “Show Interrupted.”

Our next season

Also more than ready to get started are our Directors for the 2020-2021 season, awaiting the chance to put their visions on the stage. Leslie Berra, Cat Arnold, Cindy Davis Massey, JT Landry, Melanie McBurney, Iain Macpherson, Beth Woodruff, Laurel Aiello, and JK Gregg, we thank you for your understanding with this frustrating turbulence in scheduling. 

Connecting to the community

Behind-the-scenes warriors help keep Pull-Tight relevant and connected to the community. Box office guru Johnny Peppers is a one-man show on par with Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain. Becky Leopard quickly and efficiently got the word out to publications about our spring closure. Johnny and Savannah Aiello also keep the Pull-Tight “buzz” alive on Twitter and Instagram.

Many of our favorite actors and actresses contributed to our social media presence as we transitioned into remote settings during quarantine. A hearty thanks to Jeanne Drone for staying constant with “Monday Memories,” a weekly Facebook retrospective into past productions on our main stage. “Meet the Players,” “My First Show,” and “Show Scares” were all features that saw coverage on our Facebook page as well. Much appreciation to everyone who chipped in – Heather Bottoms, Pat Evans, Lynda Gibbs, Greg Grimsley, Dan Kassis, Emily Kieffner, Iain Macpherson, Cindy Davis Massey, Julie Murphy, Johnny Peppers, Cabot Pyle, Megan Roberts, Rachel Sinclair, Lenny West, Beth Woodruff, and Wade Woodruff. If I left someone out, I’m sorry!

Business as usual … ?

Though unable to conduct our normal artist membership meeting in person, we did collect votes for our annual Board of Directors election in May and welcomed Lynda Gibbs, Carmela Hofstee, and Lenny West to serve three-year terms. Sean Aiello, Leslie Berra, and Stephanie Dillard rotated off the Board – and we thank them for their service!

Knot Awards, not a banquet

Beth Woodruff and Dan Kassis transformed the annual Knot Awards Banquet into a live-streamed ceremony in under a month, broadcast on YouTube for all to see. Technical gurus Savannah Aiello and Matthew Redding aided in the process, which included airing a pre-recorded riff on Jurassic Park starring Joe Shepherd, Jennifer Bennett, and Iain MacphersonWatch the entire event on Youtube.

Dan Kassis, Beth Woodruff, Matt Grimes
at Virtual Knot Awards Banquet
Knot Awards Banquet Theme & Logo
Matt Grimes in Jurassic Park Mode

The Player of the Year honor went to Melanie McBurney, and Jeremy Hargis was inducted into the Pull-Tight Hall of Fame. Click HERE to see all winners.

#covidgoals

Lynda Gibbs, Carmela Hofstee, and Pat Street agreed to serve as our COVID-19 task force. They have been diligently keeping up to date with recent news and health protocols that will affect the theatre and the community at large.

Home improvement

We’ve begun to assess small DIY projects within the building that we can manage before our next production. A very special extension of gratitude to Iain Macpherson for regularly checking in on the theater. Lenny West and Leslie Berra have been coordinating the replacement of one of our speakers to enhance the sound quality during our performances for a more even, less distorted distribution. 

All work and some plays

Our Playreading Committee, chaired by Jennifer Bennett, has culled through numerous show possibilities for a future season, and although their mission changed slightly this year as far as crafting suggestions for a full season, they have catalogued extensively for us. Thanks, too, to Jennifer’s assembled team – Aleah Christian, JK Gregg, Greg Grimsley, JT Landry, Melanie McBurney, Julie Murphy, Mark Slagle, and Lenny West.

Board feat

Our Fall Membership Meeting, socially distanced, did occur in October. The Board updated attendees on the theater’s financial security, explained sanitation protocols once we reopen, and provided tentative plans for the future. Additionally, as President, I established a Voting Committee that will allow all individuals with voting rights in 2019-2020 to carry them into 2020-2021. The committee will dissolve after the spring membership meeting. 

The Board decided that data was necessary to evaluate options and weigh the concerns of our volunteers and patrons during the pandemic. As a result, we sent out a COVID-19 survey in November to solicit responses that would better inform our decision-making in 2021.

Season’s greetings

Determined to keep the Christmas spirit alive for all of us, Claudia Finnegan volunteered to decorate the exterior of the theater for the holidays. Thanks, Claudia!

As we move into 2021, we will again face new challenges and frustrating obstacles. But we will never let that diminish our passion for life and for the arts. The adage is “hope springs eternal.” Never has that sentiment been truer.

I wish you all the best for a Happy New Year and hope to see you, sooner rather than later, at the theatre. 

Matt Grimes
President, Pull-Tight Players Board of Directors
james.m.grimes@vanderbilt.edu