A Beginning and An Ending
"Adventurous theater in Astoria"

-- The New York Times

A Beginning and An Ending

It’s the start of a new season at APAC. Tomorrow we will have the first official date in the APAC calendar – auditions for Summer Starsin the coming weeks we’ll announce the programming for the year, and today we are launching this – the APAC blog – which will give you all a weekly behind the scenes take on our community.

But the beginning of this season carries with it one very significant ending – Taryn Sacramone, our Executive Director for the past 8 seasons, is leaving APAC to take the position of Managing Director at Queen’s Theatre. Today is her last day with us. As the leader of our community for 8 years, Taryn was instrumental in creating a home for our allies, artists and audiences alike. When we first talked about doing a blog the idea was to have another way to hear the stories of those in our community, so we thought it fitting that our first post would be Taryn sharing some stories and saying her goodbyes to all of you.  

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I had the good fortune to be APAC’s Executive Director for almost exactly 8 years.  It has been a challenging and rewarding adventure. There have been ups and downs, crises and victories. I have stories.

At the time that I came to APAC, and succeeded its founder Susan Scannell, I had no idea what was ahead of me. More importantly, I didn’t know WHO was ahead of me. The extraordinary people who I have met and worked with.

Tom, Taryn, and Regina

Taryn, Regina, Tom

Astoria community members who have gone above-and-beyond to help APAC grow. I knew that Astoria is full of people who value the arts, but I didn’t realize how reliant APAC would be on other supporters who, frankly, have little interest in theater or little time to see shows. But they understand that our productions and community programs enrich the neighborhood. They donate materials or services or give advice because they think APAC is a good thing and they know that GIVING is a good thing.

Donors who have saved the day or made the day. I knew that our work would be dependent on the generosity of donors. I did not know the impact that a $10 check, with a handwritten note of encouragement, can have on an organization. For 8 years, I have lived in a constant state of gratitude.

Rocco at Billy Witch Tech

Rocco at Billy Witch tech 10/12

Audience members and volunteers who became acquaintances and then friends over time. I did not know how those short conversations at the door, or during intermission, would add up over the years. How much I would learn about the lives of APAC’s audience members, and how much they would learn about mine. Before every performance, I would scan the reservation list and get excited about the familiar faces I’d see that night. People who remembered me, 8 months pregnant, giving curtain speeches at The Human Comedy in 2011 were asking after my son during this spring’s Blood Brothers (and suggesting that a second baby wouldn’t be a bad idea). A man who told me that he didn’t like one of our shows sent me a bouquet of roses a couple of weeks after it closed, letting me know that he still loved APAC and would see me at the next show. I didn’t know that the hardest worker I’d meet would be a high school senior, who saw me cleaning the men’s room before a performance and jumped in to help. That people who volunteered on APAC’s most elaborate sets would start using “we” and “us” when talking about APAC.

APAC Board of Directors 2012 with Dito Montiel and Michael Gianaris

Board with Dito Montiel and Senator Gianaris 3/12

Board members who listened, gave advice, and helped me navigate tricky situations. Who allowed me to set a vision, and supported me along the way- even when I made what I admitted were mistakes. I didn’t know how fortunate I would be to have them as mentors and friends. Our meetings have been candid and full of laughter- there is a circle of trust that I’ve been able to depend on.

 

Ragtime Strike

Ragtime Strike 2/09

Artists whose work stays with me. I knew that I would be proud to produce theatre. I did not know that I would race up to the balcony,two steps at a time, to catch “Til We Reach that Day” during Ragtime or find myself standing in the lobby with my ear pressed against the door, listening to the audience laugh during MilkMilkLemonade. I didn’t know I’d be tearing up during a tech week run-through of A Hard Wall at High Speed or the sing-through of The Secret Garden. I didn’t know how imaginative the designs would be, or that the people who we worked with would be as generous as they are talented.

Children who took part in Summer Stars and in Playmaking grew up before my eyes. One Summer Stars alum, a teenager now, wrote to me this spring, asking if he could volunteer at this year’s round of the program. He told me that he wanted to do for others what APAC had done for him. I could not have hoped to get that email, or know how proud I would feel when I did.

Senior Stars at the Gala 2013

Senior Stars at the Gala 2013

Seniors (my God, the seniors) who found the courage to take part in our performance program for Queens residents over the age of 60. How much we have all learned about joy from our Senior Stars. I knew the program was a fun idea. I didn’t know that I’d find myself in a theater, watching one Senior Star perform at the Mayor’s Awards of Arts & Culture. That I’d hold my breath through her entire song- not because I was nervous, but because I was in as much awe of her as the people who were watching her perform for the first time.

With Annie, Dave, Tom, 8/10

With Annie, Dave, Tom, 8/10

Staff members who have taught and inspired me. I have had the privilege of working with really talented people who made the same commitment I did: to give APAC our best, and to trust that good things would happen for APAC if we did. We have appreciated the fact that our skills complement each others and that collaboration isn’t always easy. I didn’t know that my energy and my confidence in APAC would come-above all-from my faith in them.

To all of them (to all of you) I say – thank you. You changed my life. One of the best compliments that we’ve gotten over the years has been “APAC has heart.” It certainly has mine. I know I’ll stay in the APAC family because I know exactly how big and strong that family is.

APAC’s Board of Directors is currently searching for a new Executive Director. When they find that next lucky person, I will tell them: yours is a dream job. Be ready to fall in love.

 

5 Comments


  1. ArthurR
    Aug 02, 2013

    Dang!
    Hark; are these teardrops emanating from mine eyes?
    Why, yes. Yes, that are!
    Taryn, you are a class act. Best Wishes.


  2. Vivian Oxford
    Aug 02, 2013

    It will be a miracle for APAC to get an Executive Director as good as Taryn. – I pray for that miracle.


  3. Erin G
    Aug 03, 2013

    We love APAC! Wonderful blog entry!


  4. Amie Bermowitz
    Aug 05, 2013

    What a lovely blog! Taryn, I wish you only the best on your new adventure.
    I know our paths will cross again! Amie…


  5. Grace Pettijohn
    Aug 08, 2013

    I think it is safe to say that it takes a village to raise a child and today it takes a progressive, truthful, bravely creative and sensitive theatre company to inform a Village. Charity begins at home. This is what you have established for Astoria, New York and, although it will be hard to fill your shoes, this is the path that has been created and it can only move forward. You have done what you set out to do and the theatre community will never be the same. Congratulations to Queens Theatre in the Park because their path will now move forward as well and know that all good thoughts and wishes and prayers are with you. We all believe in you!

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