What Do You Want To Be When You Give Up

A Play About Letting Go

A rehearsal between two actors turns into explosions of angst, politics, literature, motherhood, forgiveness, and love — with snatches of song, a handful of dances, rants about life, and impassioned appeals to both the moon and Jane Austen.


Upcoming Performances

Mark O’Donnell Theater, Actors Fund Art Center

Brooklyn, NY – Tentatively scheduled for April 2021


Admission is FREE (donations welcomed), but seating is limited.

Cast and Creative Team

Billy Siegenfeld

Actor, Playwright, Director, Choreographer

Jordan Batta


Dawn Mora

Assistant Director

Tucker DeGregory

Assistant Director

Peter Anderson

Lighting and Sound Designer

Joshua Weckesser

Technical Director, Production Stage Manager

Suzanne Scott


Billy Siegenfeld and Jordan Batta have so much talent and electricity that it seems to spill out into the audience. Siegenfeld’s play, What Do You Want to Be When You Give Up?, is both a powerful and intimate piece that combines tender acting, beautiful singing, and explosive dance. To see two performers so magnificently attuned to each other is a delight. As the story unfolds, the drama grows from a simple disagreement in a rehearsal room to a thrilling exploration of what it means to be an artist in a world that seems to only get bigger and bigger. The play works its magic in a subtle and revelatory way; as the performers flit between delicate dances and riotous eruptions of funk and tap, so too does the conversation shift between the hilarious banalities of suburban life and the extraordinary potential for art to heal the broken parts of ourselves, especially in dark times. Do not miss an opportunity to see this show!

Kevin Fugaro

Actor and Playwright

[This play] dares to tell – no, show – the struggles, frustrations, and needs of a woman trying desperately to reconcile her artistic self with her role as a mother and wife. I immediately thought to myself, “I know her.”…It is their constant moving in and out of sync with one other, as all of us do with our colleagues, friends, lovers, spouses, and children, that makes this play both powerful and refreshing.

Kelly Malone Dudley

Senior Lecturer, Department of Dance, Randolph College

Audience Reviews

I think everyone should take 75 minutes in their life to sit and enjoy this performance.

-Robert Goodman, Attorney

Jordan Batta has so much beauty on the stage. She radiates her character’s pathos, its inner quiet. A something indefinable that rivets.

-Rick Wessler, actor and playwright; Suzanne Wessler, playwright and poet

“What Do You Want To Be When You Give Up?” exceeded all expectations. It’s a must-see. An original display of acting, singing, and dancing seldom seen on stage or screen. The smoothest couple since Fred and Ginger.
-Suzy and Sam Novenstern, young-at-heart senior citizens


The piece’s greatest strength lies in its transparency; these actors know what they’re talking about because they live it. ‘What Do You Want to Be When You Give Up?’ reads as a timely meditation on hopelessness and isolation, ultimately suggesting that we’re never as alone as we may feel.

Frankie DiCiaccio

actor and arts educator, MFA in Acting, Harvard University



Nancy Gidwitz

Ed and Helen Nicoll


Bernie & Sally Dobroski

Anna Marie Panlilio


Paul Edwards

William Griffith

Joy Javitz

Ray and Jane Neufeld

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