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"Grief at High Tide" - Special Guests to Hold Conversations at Vivid Stage

originally published: 09/25/2023

"Grief at High Tide" - Special Guests to Hold Conversations at Vivid Stage

(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Vivid Stage, in residence at Oakes Center at 120 Morris Avenue in Summit, will present the world premiere of Grief at High Tide by Richard Willett from October 5-15, 2023. During the run of the production, several special guests will be a part of free discussions with the audience on themes central to the play. The play asks the questions: 

* Who owns the story: artist or subject? 

* Does art made from trauma harm or heal?

* What do we owe to the people we love?

When struggling New York photographer Jennifer Evers tells her husband Christopher that the photo she took of him by his mother’s deathbed—the one he never gave her permission to take and asked her not to show anyone—was secretly entered in a very prestigious competition, it doesn’t go well. To try to investigate the role that art plays in real-life relationships, Jennifer goes out on assignment to California, to create a piece on a Pulitzer Prize−winning photograph, Grief at High Tide, which changed the lives of everyone involved.

After each matinée, there will be a talkback with the artistic team. In addition, the panel on Sunday, October 8 will include Najiyyah Bailey, the Executive Assistant and Marketing Associate at Imagine, Gina Kornfeind, MSW, MS, the team coordinator at Good Grief, and Dr. Liz Nissim, a licensed clinical and certified school psychologist. These special guests will share information about their work and how it relates to the themes of the play, and will take questions from the audience from 3:30pm to 4:00pm.

Before the Sunday, October 15 matinée, author Andrea Stein and artist Lisa Brown will have a conversation with the audience entitled, “Truth Be Told: Whose Story Is It?” Lisa Brown’s work explores how art can be a means of healing through difficult times, and how telling your own story through art can provide catharsis and understanding. Andrea Stein’s novel, Typecast, tells the story of a woman who discovers that her ex-boyfriend is using their relationship and breakup as material for his first feature film. Starting at 1:00pm, these two guests will talk about creating and sharing their art and will respond to questions from the audience before the 2:00pm performance.

Grief at High Tide will be presented at Vivid Stage at 120 Morris Avenue in Summit from October 5-15, 2023. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm. Special dates: Thursday, October 5, is a preview performance; all tickets are $28. Sunday, October 8, is Senior Sunday; seniors age 65+ pay $28. Talkbacks follow the October 8 and 15 matinée performances.

Tickets range from $25 to $42, with special rates for subscribers and groups. For touchless advance ticket purchases, click here. Season passes, which offer patrons a 20% discount, are available through October 15. For more information, call 908-514-9654. The theatre at Oakes Center is wheelchair accessible. Assisted listening devices are available at all performances. The parking lot is accessible from Ashwood Avenue, behind the theatre.

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About the guests:

Najiyyah Bailey is the Executive Assistant and Marketing Associate at Imagine. She is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she received her B.A. in English with a writing concentration. She first came to Imagine as a marketing consultant, managing the social media pages and designing special marketing projects. As a proud native of Plainfield, NJ, Najiyyah continues to serve her community as a licensed minister, currently serving on the ministerial staff at her local church.

Imagine’s mission is to support children and families coping with loss and to foster resilience and emotional well-being for all those who grieve. Imagine started its free grief support groups in 2011; since then, Imagine has expanded to provide in-person support to serve the communities in Union County and surrounding areas, as well as virtual support to serve children and adults coping with loss all over the country. Imagine offers peer grief support groups for New Jersey children and young adults who are coping with a loss including a parent, a sibling, a close family member or significant person in their life. Imagine also offers peer grief support groups for parents who lost a child. To learn more and to access their services, visit

Lisa Brown created Art-as-Therapy in 1998 because, while suffering 5 years with Lyme disease, she found that the only time she felt better was while in the process of making art. She believes that creating is therapeutic, because it helps us express uneasy emotions, relieve stress and suffering, and provides escape.

She has dedicated her life to helping others by giving them opportunities to explore different media to discover insights about themselves, reflecting on their creations using unique journal methods. Brown has facilitated workshops for bereavement groups, cancer survivors and their families, teachers, therapists, caregivers, and the general public for over 35 years.

Gina Kornfeind MSW, MS is a team coordinator at Good Grief. She also works as a pediatric palliative care social worker and bereavement counselor.  She is passionate about helping others explore this area and educating our culture about grief.

Good Grief builds resilience in children, strengthens families, and empowers communities to grow from loss and adversity. Good Grief teaches resiliency and facilitates healthy coping in the lives of more than 900 children each month by providing a caring and understanding environment that is like no other. In addition to free programs, they advocate for our families by educating their school districts, employers, and communities. Since 2007, Good Grief has expanded in order to fulfill their commitment to grieving children and families and meet the demand for their services in order to ensure that no child ever has to grieve alone. To learn more, visit

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Dr. Liz Nissim (formerly Matheis) is a licensed clinical and certified school psychologist in private practice in Livingston, New Jersey since 2012. She and her team of therapists specialize in working with children, teens, young adults, and adults and their families who struggle with anxiety, ADHD, autism, learning disabilities and behaviors. She and her talented team provide individual therapy, play therapy, parent coaching, executive functioning coaching, IEP consulting, and psycho-educational evaluations.  Dr. Liz is the proud mom of 3 children, ages 17, 14, and 10.

Andrea J. Stein is a novelist, book publicist, and activist.  Born in Brooklyn, she was raised in Springfield, New Jersey before getting her Bachelor’s degree at Bard College and Master’s degree at Cornell University.  She now lives in Summit with her husband where they are raising their two sons—one now in college and one in high school. Typecast, her award-winning debut novel that has received critical acclaim from such media as BuzzFeed and ScaryMommy, is the story of Callie Dressler, a thirty-something preschool teacher grappling with family and friends while she figures out how to rewrite her future. Not only is Callie's sister's family moving in with her temporarily, but her ex-boyfriend is making a movie about their break-up.  While the movie proves a catalyst for Callie’s personal growth, it also raises questions about what happens when other people tell—and who has a right to tell—our stories.

Vivid Stage was founded in 1994 as Dreamcatcher Rep, and is a non-profit professional ensemble of actors who build community with the audience by sharing contemporary, life-affirming stories that challenge, energize and entertain. Their work has at its heart a belief in the essential goodness of people and the power of live performance to connect people through our shared humanity. They expose theatregoers to ideas and lives like and unlike their own with the intention of awakening their imaginations and creating empathy for others. They deepen the experience of all their patrons with personal contact through receptions, talkbacks, and interactive programs.

The company’s activities include mainstage productions, improvisational comedy and cabarets, new play readings and a variety of educational and senior outreach programs.

Vivid Stage’s programs are funded by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Union County Department of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, and many other corporations, foundations and individuals.  Vivid Stage is an Equity Producing member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

Vivid Stage, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) corporation, incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey.

Graphic by Yolanda Fundora




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