Ascham Old Girl—Greta Gertler Gold (Class of 1988)
Greta and her husband were walking through a park in Brooklyn, New York with her three month old baby boy (Eben) and three year old daughter (Lila), when they got a call from a friend asking if they were ok. The message was accompanied by a photograph of their apartment block that was engulfed by flames. They lost everything, including their cat and Greta’s grand piano. It was the last days of auditions for Greta’s new musical, Triplight at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater (a show she had been developing for eight years prior to this), so she had to push on. The family traipsed between Air BnBs and hotels whilst she would turn up for rehearsals, with Eben in tow, who slept on jackets and sat at read-throughs. She was supported by a brilliant community throughout the world, including fellow Ascham Old Girl and Brooklyn-based musical composer, Anna Jacobs (1998).
In March this year Greta’s industry shut down overnight, due to COVID 19, so she and her family moved back to Australia. She had been travelling between the two countries for several years while she created the musical The Red Tree by Shaun Tan at the Sydney Opera House and The Melbourne Arts Centre. When she got back she found through the Ascham Old Girls’ network that Caroline Isles (Allsopp 1988) had a piano that she needed to give away. It now sits proudly in Greta’s Rozelle house.
When Greta returned to Sydney she wanted to reconnect with her Ascham Music teacher David Jensen. He had allowed her to explore her interests at School and had introduced her to musical theatre. Greta acknowledges how influential he was to her life and musical career saying, ‘We are so blessed that Ascham employed people like David Jensen who enthused their life’s passion into their teachings’. Sadly, after many years of struggling with depression, tragically David took his own life last December.
Greta’s future works will not be echoes of the destruction that she has experienced in the last 18 months, she wants them to be beacons of hope. She is currently working on a musical adaptation of the picture book Alphabetical Sydney by Hilary Bell. Greta says, ‘It will be a piece of joy and fun and will encourage kids and parents to find some joy in the wondrous eternal space in this beautiful city of ours.’ She also teaches songwriting and hosts a weekly ‘virtual variety show’ on Zoom called Circles of Support, featuring singer-songwriters and instrumentalists from New York City and Australia. Greta’s best-known work in Australia is probably the hit song Blow Up the Pokies which she wrote with Tim Freedman for The Whitlams.
Please visit gretagertlergold.com to find out more about Greta and her work.
Story by Ascham Old Girl Holly Marsh (Class of 1990)