For Decent Company June: secrets, Cristina Pitter is going public with a secret that she’s kept for a very long time. Cristina and producing director Josh Boerman had some coffee and talked about that secret, plus a few other things along the way.
JOSH BOERMAN: The piece that you’re doing this month is a confession.
CRISTINA PITTER: It is.
JB: And it’s a very real piece. (CRISTINA LAUGHS) The first time that I read what you submitted, my jaw was— like, I think it took me 15 minutes to pick my jaw up off the floor. (LAUGHS)
CP: Oh man, oh man. Yeah, it’s a doozy. But the baby, though. (LAUGHS) I can’t.
CP: #butthatbabythough. (LAUGHS) But yeah, it’s a confession without shame, which I find really fascinating. Because during the entire life of this secret, of this thing that you will be finding out when you come see the show, I never felt an ounce of shame. But I didn’t know why this came to the forefront of secrets until our last rehearsal, and knowing, yeah, I’m in such a very clear and knowing place in my life, and knowing what I want and where I am.
JB: So there’s something special about telling this story right now.
CP: Right now. Right now.
JB: And what is that? What is that reason, or that impetus?
CP: That radical self-love, and… ooh. (LAUGHS)
JB: Just to give our audience a little bit more of a slightly fleshed out sense, without giving it all away—
CP: I know, I don’t know how.
JB: This is about a long, torrid affair.
CP: Yep, there you go. Yep. That’s what it is. You can get all the juicy details when you come to the show. Yeah.
It was so necessary right now because of being able to connect the threads of not having any shame in this affair before. But also knowing that I was a very different person, and knowing that I had no shame in it. But I also wasn’t giving myself enough and allowing myself enough to deserve better, and to want better and to want more.
JB: What do you mean when you say giving yourself enough? Enough of what?
CP: Giving myself enough credit as a human being in terms of, I am wonderful, (LAUGHS) and deserve more than just being a side story. Or “the other woman,” as people would say. And not that it was terrible; it wasn’t. It was like, “Okay, I know what this is, and I know that I don’t want that anymore.” And I don’t need to have that anymore, and I am no longer in a place where it’s like, “Well, this is all I can get.” Which is very real.
JB: And it’s interesting too that you mentioned the whole narrative of, as you put it, the other woman. Because that is maybe, if not the most, certainly among the most common narratives that run throughout— it’s a common dramatic situation. I mean—
JB: Hamilton. Exactly. (LAUGHS)
CP: You can’t say no to this. I’m amazing. (LAUGHS)
JB: Right. Right.
CP: But it all comes full circle, because I’ve gone from playing the narrative of other woman, or the deadly siren, and knowing that yes, I’m everything that you want and that you’re tempted by and having a thrill from that. And then going, “Yeah, I’m all that and we could do all that, but why we can’t we just live in a world where, cool, we’re gonna openly, clearly state our boundaries and what we want and what we don’t want.”
And being honest with ourselves, and being honest with myself that yeah, I live much more in the world of free love and polyamory, and being so honest with the partners you have.
JB: Because that’s the thing. In order to have those experiences and have them be in a way that’s positive for everyone—
JB: There need to be clear boundaries that are established.
JB: Because otherwise you end up in situations where it’s #butthatbabythough.
CP: It’s #butthatbabythough. And you end up— I mean, good Lord. (LAUGHS) You end up being a Lifetime movie. This is how people have three other families. And when you walk down the street and go, “God, that really looks like my Uncle John. Really strange.”
JB: And then you do a double take and like, “Wait a minute.”
CP: “Wait a min— excuse me, what?” It ends up being a Lifetime movie. I can’t. I can’t. But I can, and I did, but no longer. (LAUGHS)
JB: When you talk about stories of going back to this month’s core idea, secrets, the classic cliché play is, family’s at the dinner table, 90 minutes of bickering, and a terrible secret is revealed. Curtain.
CP: Yep. And it’s terrible.
JB: Because there’s so much more to secrets than the act of revealing, right?
JB: Like, there’s—
CP: You need to dig in there. I love ripping things apart and finding out the who and the why and the when, and getting a full picture of it. And it’s slightly destructive of me, and masochistic sometimes, but I like it, and I want to know. And even through whatever pain there might be or jealousy, it’s like, I want the full understanding of it so I know for next time. And I’m making a choice for next time.
JB: But I will ask you this. When should secrets be kept instead? Because sometimes you’ve gotta keep a secret.
CP: Sometimes you have to keep a secret. Oh, I feel like the back– my neck is just tightening up. I think it depends on the person and the situation. I mean, who am I to say (LAUGHS) you should keep the secret for this and for that?
JB: Okay, what about for you then?
CP: For me? I think it depends on the weight of the secret. Like, is it something that is so miniscule that you check it within yourself, it’s on your list, and you put it away in your box and it’s done? Like, what purpose is it going to serve bringing it out? Is it a confession that you need? Is it some kind of clarity or redemption that you need from it, from putting this secret out?
Is it a form of blackmail, that you’re holding onto a secret until the perfect time? Devious, I know, but it’s true.
JB: It happens. People do it.
CP: It happens. Ooh, boo-boo. I’ve got a black book. (LAUGHS) Vengeful, vengeful.
JB: Everybody be careful, you don’t want to end up in Cristina’s black book.
CP: (LAUGHS) Oh, it’s a wonderful time. And when something needs to be learned, I think, is when you tell a secret. And it’s not always a grandiose thing. It can be a healing thing that’s really wonderful, I think.
JB: Can you think any examples of what that might look like? Like in your life, examples of what that’s looked like?
CP: I mean, if we’re going back to the piece, this is a healing secret of a lot of self-worth and self-love. And what it means to be forgiving, and knowing that having so much shame and repression in this secret, and making it a terrible secret does nothing for anyone.
And can we learn from it? Can we move on from it? Can we be better people? Can we live in the grey and know that not everything is perfect? I don’t know– my mind is drawing a blank right now in terms of, like, a big healing secret that was kept. But if I can speak generally, family secrets and things that are all known by everyone, but it’s like that unspoken secret, you know? But that toxic energy—
JB: And I think that’s definitely something that happens in a lot of situations. It’s not even truly a secret, because it’s known.
CP: It’s known; everything’s known.
JB: It just isn’t acknowledged.
CP: Mm-hmm. Yes. Yes. And what that does, you know? And wanting to cleanse yourself of that, if you will. Good Lord. So I think about that, and really taking a moment to eat humble pie and pause and go, “Okay, I’m not fucking perfect. We’re not perfect. How can I enjoy myself, be completely honest with myself, and not apologize?”
I’m not gonna apologize, ’cause it’s done. And I’ll apologize if you think I did something maliciously, but truly, I didn’t. I wanna be able to encounter people and not feel any guilt. And I don’t. Not with this one.
JB: Because it’s done.
CP: Because it’s done.
JB: And it was good.
CP: It was great, and terrible. And so great.
JB: It just was what it was.
CP: And it was what it was. And it’s a great story. Oh, I love a story. (LAUGHS)
JB: Well, I imagine everybody’s looking forward to hearing it as well.
CP: #butthatbabythough. (LAUGHS)