Keep up (if you can) with Gemini Theater Company Executive Director Jill Jeffrey, as she stars in a play, runs a summer camp for hundreds of kids and designs sets for Mermaid. With Gemini since 2004, the Pittsburgh native has helped to guide the organization from a company that only produces classic children’s productions to one that runs year-round arts education programs.

Monday, August 15

It’s our last week of summer camps. I usually don’t have to wake until 7 a.m., but this summer has had a higher volume of campers needing early drop-off, so I will be out the door by 7, in the hopes of making it to Starbucks on McKnight Road before taking the “secret” way to McKees Rocks to avoid the construction traffic on 65.

Jill at Cannon Beach, Oregon after seeing "Goonies Rock."
Jill at Cannon Beach, Oregon after seeing “Goonies Rock.”
Jill at Cannon Beach, Oregon after seeing “Goonies Rock.”

Gemini now resides in the Father Ryan Arts Center. We have had the opportunity to provide our programs for students in McKees Rocks, through special arrangements with Focus On Renewal.

At 6:30 p.m., I will head to Duquesne University for a dress rehearsal of A History of American Film, which is a musical comedy. It is being produced by The Summer Company, and it opens on Thursday. I should get home between 11 p.m. and midnight, where I will collapse until is time to start the next day.

Tuesday, August 16

Another camp day. We have super amazing teachers who work with the kids, helping them piece their ideas together into a cohesive story. I have a number of students already applying for our Fall Theater Classes, so getting registrations in order and starting to finalize updated curriculum must overlap with camp show preparations.

I am done at 4:30 p.m. today, which gives me plenty of time to go to the South Side before rehearsal to grab food at La Palapa Mexican Gourmet Kitchen.

Wednesday, August 17

I will be planning out a list of items needed to complete our set construction for Mermaid, as building a boat on a stage is not as simple as it sounds. I often can find items at Construction Junction to add to sets to give them the perfect touch for our shows. Otherwise, I have awesome volunteers who will help me create this masterpiece.

Gemini Summer Camp. Photo: Nick Peterson.
Gemini Summer Camp. Photo: Nick Peterson.

Normally, this would be a rehearsal night for The Amish Monkeys, Pittsburgh’s longest-running improvisation company, but since three of us are in the show with The Summer Company, we will meet up again next week. The Amish Monkeys perform at The Father Ryan Arts Center on the second Saturday of each month.

Thursday, August 18

Camp cast photos are today. It is always amazing to see what they have made to add to their costumes. The kids also draw backgrounds that we project for their shows, so I will be putting together a slide show along with all of their sounds cues in preparation for their performances tomorrow.

It is opening night of the A History of American Film. I will stop at Beehive Coffeehouse on Carson Street to grab an iced mocha to re-energize by curtain. The show runs tonight through August 28th–come check it out! It’s in the Genesius Theatre on the Duquesne University campus.

If I can stay awake long enough after the show, I will go to Milano on Fifth, which is in walking distance of campus, to enjoy some wings, garlic knots, and a beer.

Friday, August 19

Gemini Kennywood visit.
Gemini Kennywood visit.

It’s the last day of camp! The kids are awesome, and it is always amazing to see what even our littlest campers can create in less than 15 hours of time. We send each camper home with a Gemini t-Shirt and cast photo, knowing we will see many of them in our Fall Theater classes in just a few weeks.

I am going to pick up pierogies from Pierogies Plus before the show. If you have not come over to McKees Rocks for these yet, you really should. I am going to save them for the weekend, since after our show, we traditionally go to Big Jim’s in “The Run” in Greenfield. Actors need to eat!

Saturday, August 20

I am sleeping in . . . a little. Then I plan on giving Gollum some well-deserved attention and helping Tony with some yard work. From 12 to 5 p.m., I will be working on our set for Mermaid and then heading home to get ready for my show with The Summer Company.

Sunday, August 21

I will spend my morning relaxing, since I do have a matinee performance today. I like to use these hours of no work to sit outside on our deck with the dog and Tony or to catch up on a movie. We get a lot of deer in our yard, so I’m hoping to spy the fawns who must be losing their spots by now.

Later, when the show is over, and I am cleaned up, I am hoping to go with Tony to Industry Public House or Dive Bar & Grille, both of which are only 10 minutes from our home and enjoy some food and a beer (or two) to celebrate my upcoming day off–the first since May!

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.