There are a lot of commonalities between the 14th Street Y and AfterWork Theater. The biggest one? Both our organizations are committed to playing integral roles in the lives of our members and the communities we serve. AfterWork Theater is a community theater designed to provide everyday New Yorkers with the extraordinary opportunity to perform in musicals, plays, musical revues, in an stress-free environment. We sat down with Evan Greenberg, Founder and Executive Director of AfterWork Theater, to discuss inclusivity, new parenthood, and the significance of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
AfterWork Theater works with individuals with autism, with disabilities, veterans— everyday people. As the Founder and Executive Director, was this a deliberate effort?
At AfterWork Theater, we believe in the incredibly transformative power of being in a show, from bonding with cast mates, to building self-confidence, to the thrill of a well-deserved applause. Yet, historically, participation in the performance arts has been reserved for the privileged few— those with “enough” talent or experience, and for those possessing the “right” racial/ethnic identity, socio-economic background/mobility. From the beginning, we have sought to create access to powerful theatrical expressions for literally anyone* (*anyone over 18 years old) by removing one barrier after another.
Congratulations on becoming a new father! What’s it like having a small new addition to your family? Has this influenced you on a personal level?
Thank you! My husband, Jon and I feel so blessed to be alive during this incredible time in history when we’re able to have a family of our own. It took three years for us to be successful in having a child and Piper was worth the wait. She is an absolute miracle and a force to be reckoned with. My time suddenly feels so precious— as someone who has always had a very active social life, I had to shift my priorities in order to make more time to spend with my family.
“My dad is no longer with us but I know he would be overwhelmed with pride and joy to see the family that Jon and I are building.”
(Pictured left to right: Piper, Evan, and Jon)
“The personal is political.” How has becoming a new father influenced your professional life?— How is the professional personal?
When it comes to my professional life, being a father has influenced me in two conflicting ways— on one hand, I am committed to carving out more time away from work to spend with my family. On the other hand, I want to be able to provide well for my daughter and serve as a role model for all that she can be and do in the world. I’m going to go ahead and guess I’m not the first parent to experience this conundrum.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and 2019 is also the year New York City will host World Pride. As you know, the Stonewall Riots took place in Lower Manhattan, a less-than-fifteen minute walk to AfterWork Theater. What does this mean to you?
I was 15 years old when I came out to my father and, at the time, he wept for all the things that he was so sure I would miss out in life. He told me that since I was born, “[he] had pictured my wedding and my children every single day and now [he] didn’t know what to picture anymore.” He seemed so sure I couldn’t have my own family, and yet, I was confident that he was wrong. My dad is no longer with us but I know he would be overwhelmed with pride and joy to see the family that Jon and I are building (we’re not done yet). I know that none of this would be possible if it weren’t for the congregation of activists that came before me. Words cannot express my gratitude to them for all they have enabled me to have.