By Erika Weisbach
“Jonny Gammage was humanized…but we didn’t kill Jonny Gammage. Pittsburgh didn’t kill Jonny Gammage.”
Between classes, doing my laundry, waiting in line, in the shower, I constantly find myself running through my lines. People who hear me muttering probably wonder, “Who is Jonny Gammage?” and “Why is this girl talking to herself?” Well aware that I come off as a babbling lunatic to those in earshot, I try to think about my lines as Beth Pittinger, head of the Citizens’ Police Review Board, often.
I’m a freshman at Pitt and have never been in a play before. When I was being overwhelmed with clubs and activity choices at the beginning of the year, I knew I wanted to give theatre a shot. I was thrilled when I landed a role in The Gammage Project after spring auditions. My small speaking role as Pittinger allows me to be a part of The Gammage Project and also gives me time to observe the work and creativity going on around me during rehearsals. The Gammage Project is unique because it joins both student actors and professional local artists. I find it incredibly invaluable to be able to work side by side with experienced actors and also relate to my college-aged peers. I know that the hard work of writer Buck Favorini, director Mark Southers, stage manager Emily Burst, and everyone else involved in the show will pay off when we open.
Another driving motivator for me while working on the show is knowing that my character, Beth Pittinger, will be in the audience along with many others affected by the murder of Jonny Gammage. This makes me so anxious and excited, knowing that the show I am experiencing and learning from will affect so many people. I hope that after the show debuts and I’m walking down the street babbling my lines, people will hear me and recognize the name Jonny Gammage.
Erika is a Freshman studying English Literature, History, and Theatre Arts at the University of Pittsburgh. This is the first show she has ever been in, and she looks forward to many more during her years at Pitt.