Sometimes two jobs are the perfect match - even if they are on opposite sides of the state

Greg Grobis calls Detroit and Holland home

By Bridgette M. Redman

Greg Grobis is a man in constant motion as he travels between Detroit and Holland holding down two complementary jobs in the theater. After years of doing both, he's still as passionate as ever.

During the school year, Grobis teaches theater at the University of Detroit Mercy and is the director of marketing and management for its theater program. He is also the director of marketing at Hope Summer Repertory Theatre in Holland, a job that is part-time throughout the year and full-time from mid-May to August. With an apartment in both places, Grobis makes the 2.5 hour drive weekly.

Grobis, who is originally from Indiana, came to Michigan to attend Wayne State University's theater graduate student program where he met his partner of nine years. He graduated in 2008, right in the middle of the recession. He landed at the University of Detroit Mercy, starting out in a staff position running the theater. When a tenured teacher retired, he stepped into her shoes and began teaching.

"I always wanted to go to New York or work on tours - and I did that and loved it," Grobis said. "But when I started teaching at the college level, it was wonderful to see the students come to life, especially around the arts. I'm going up for tenure and promotion this fall."

It was while at Wayne State that he started spending his summers working for regional theaters, and where he first got introduced to Hope Summer Rep.

"I spent my third summer (at Wayne State) as director of marketing and (public relations) at Hope Summer Rep over in Holland," Grobis said. "I'd been attending shows, as my partner grew up there and went to college over there. They needed someone to do marketing for them and I was interested, and it really turned out to be a great match."

Now he is able to take his theater administration students at UDM and have them work as interns and on actual projects for Hope Summer Rep.

There are those who might question what sort of working environment a gay man might find at a Jesuit Catholic college and a Dutch Reformed Church college, but Grobis is enthusiastic about both places.

"Being a Jesuit college and university, at the core of what UDM is, is valuing human life, valuing knowledge and being able to discuss viewpoints that are different from their own. UDM is a welcoming community in that regard," Grobis said. "We can work on the arts and focus in on the stories we are telling on stage and how that impacts the community."

Grobis said he also teaches classes in the women and gender study programs and is involved in Spectrum, a gay organization on campus.

"Part of the reason I'm in theater and I enjoy teaching at UDM, is I really believe we have to fight for justice for everyone. Everyone deserves justice. That's a core value of why I enjoy working at UDM and Hope. I think we share those values, and we share those values inside the art we produce."

He says the situation is similar in Holland, which is set in a Protestant Dutch Reformed community.

"I've experienced a welcoming community in the arts scene there, even though the reputation is otherwise, but there are so many great people fighting for justice," Grobis said. "Hope is about the hope of a sense of justice. They focus on family-friendly theater which is uplifting and challenging at times. They offer true perspectives on what is going on. This season is a great example - 'The Sound of Music' next to 'A Raisin in the Sun.' People in Holland are buzzing about it in a great way. That is a conversation we can grow upon."

Grobis also raves about the theater community that has been created in Holland by Hope bringing in artists and interns from such places as the Guthrie and other top theater programs in the country. He says they are one of the largest summer programs in the state, with 120 guest artists and more than 100 performances of six different shows. They sometimes perform up to four shows a day, with an intern possibly being involved in two or three of them.

Grobis said he wishes people in Detroit would know how "mind blowing" the talent is in Holland each summer.

"That's why I love HSRT - there is that creative environment," Grobis said. "After the rehearsal, everyone is out doing something: discussing the arts, reading plays, working on the cabaret, doing a staged reading. It is such a wonderful theater environment. In Holland, it is so small, you stick together a little more in a smaller community."

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