Jumping Jack Theater on the Road with Cityscape

In March I had the opportunity to perform in Cityscape with Jumping Jack Theater at the Cultural Trust Education Center in Pittsburgh.  

We had lovely audiences and it was great to see their reactions to the show and story. 

And now we are ready to take Cityscape on the road. 

It is a joy to be in a show that I believe in so much and see the ways it is connecting to kids.  I believe that kids deserve good storytelling and Jumping Jack Theater is creating beautiful stories that respect and care for their audiences.  Get a glimpse of the show and learn how you can bring it to a school or to your community. 

To Create...

Creating and working in the creative fields means there are many ways to go about the path of creating.  No artists path looks the same.  This can cause excitement and frustration for me on any given day.  

There have been a few underlying pieces that have been anchors for me in the creative process. 


1. Working with people who love and are passionate about creating. 

2. Pushing myself in my work to do things that are going to help me grow as an artist.

3. Doing what I can to create and support art/work that looks like the family I grew up in - diverse in personality and racial background. 

4. Take the hard things in my life and create something beautiful out of it. 

I'm not always successful in creating work like this, but these are for me, what I keep coming back to as a focus and direction. 

Over the last five months I have worked on two large writing projects that I submitted to competitions.  I write because it helps me grow as an actor, because it helps me think about story, it provides ways for me to put hard things into something beautiful, and it helps me process my own life story. 

Whether these projects ever see the light of day.  Whether they are ever produced or seen by anyone they are the reminder to me of the choices I have in life.  The choice to put my time and energy into work that puts me a step at a time towards these goals and passions. 

There are days when I think about the world and my own life and it feels overwhelming and dark.  For me this choice to keep creating in the midst is my fight.  My step to see the beauty in the world and imagine and create it one step at a time.  

To create is my fight song.  My stubborn resistance against my own pain and the worlds pain and the fight to celebrate what is yet beautiful and wonderful.  



With Gratitude

2017 was the first year since graduating from grad school I wasn't teaching as an adjunct at a college.  It was also the first year that the majority of my work was free lance.  It was a change for sure and I'm still sorting out this shift in schedule and work.  

The end of the year has meant collecting all the information for the year and putting records together. Pausing to look over the past year and the opportunities and jobs has been the reminder that no matter how uncertain the year was the consistent part was the people in my life.  So many of my jobs came from friends recommendations or from other jobs I was doing.  

And so the year ends with gratitude.  Many other emotions and struggles as well - but I want the word that ends the year to be one of gratitude.  For the people who have come alongside me and encouraged and supported me this year.  Thank you.  

As I reflect on a new year and the coming of 2018 - I have a lot of blank space in front of me.  I'm not sure what the new year will hold or what goals I will set for myself and my work.  But I want to start and end this 2017/2018 time with thanks.  The rest is a big unknown. 

Something old...something new...Shakespeare and Cityscape

This fall has been filled with the opportunity of participating in several projects and performances with three different companies in Pittsburgh.  

Henry V, with the Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Park, closed at the end of September.   The cast was wonderful to work with and performing outdoors brought so many great stories and diverse groups of audience members that made each performance unique.   

With the ending of Henry V I had the unexpected last minute opportunity of getting a small part in Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet.  It's been eleven years since I've been in Romeo and Juliet (first semester of graduate school) and the words and the beauty of the language still impact me.  I'm thankful for the chance to revisit it again in production and be in the midst of something familiar that brings back so many memories of my first production of Romeo and Juliet in 2006.  Coming back to the piece reminds me of how much I've grown and how much there is still yet to learn.  

I'm also in rehearsal for a new piece called Cityscape that is being created by Jumping Jack Theater, a new company that started in Pittsburgh with the goal of creating original works for audiences that would benefit from sensory and autism-friendly strategies.  I'm learning so much through the piece and the work that the company is doing to create and reach their audiences.  Once the piece is up and running it will be touring in schools and can be booked here: https://www.jumpingjacktheater.org/touring


Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks - Henry V


It has been a joy to be a part of rehearsing for Henry V with the cast of Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks.  And the process has reminded me  of how much I love rehearsing.  The joy of learning and growing and watching all the pieces come together as cast and crew work to bring a story to life. We are getting close to opening and I'm looking forward to sharing all the our work with audiences. 

The shows are free and will be held in three parks in Pittsburgh in the month of September.  Learn more about the times/dates and hear a little from the director about what to expect from the show in the information below.   Also hear a great story of what happened during one of our rehearsals in the park - if you question whether people care in the world - we had a wonderful reminder that there are people who care and are willing to take the risk to do something.  

Shakespeare's Inspiring Story of a Young King
Directed by Alan Irvine
Production Design by Lisa Lieberling
Artistic Director - Jennifer Tober

Henry V: Find us in three parks in September!
All shows Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm.

Sept 2 & 3
Frick Park, Squirrel Hill

Sept 9 & 10
Highland Park, Highland Park 

Sept 16 & 17
Arsenal Park, Lawrenceville
Celebrate King Henry's 630th birthay with the company on Saturday! 

Sept 23 & 24
Frick Park, Squirrel Hill

Donations are encouraged to underwrite your free Shakespeare. Cash and checks accepted.

Sponsor our production of Henry V, or place an ad in our program! Download our rate card and sponsoring details here!

Clickbait is going to Paris

In July I got to hang out with Maple Films and help create a short film for the Cleveland 48 Hour Film Project.  

Good stories and caring about telling stories well is something that draws me to people and projects.  And I'm grateful for the opportunity to work again with Maple Films.  Traveling is always worth it for a good story :) . 

And this week we found out that our short film won best film for the 2017 Cleveland 48 Hour Film Project and is now headed to Paris, France for Filmapalooza in March to compete with other cities from around the world.  

You can view the film below. 

Up-coming Classes and Camps

If you are in the Western, PA area I have several camps and classes that I'll be teaching this summer that still have spots available for students. No prior acting experience is needed.   I strive to create classes that provide safe spaces for students to learn new skills and explore ideas that actors use in their work - working on our imagination, learning to listen, exploring ways our bodies and voices help us tell stories, and what it means to learn and empathize with the characters we study and the people we work with.  And of course doing all this very serious work while having lots of fun.  

Henry Mancini Academy 

With the Henry Mancini Academy I'll be teaching a Shakespeare Camp July 17-21st at Lincoln Park and then in August an Introductory Acting Workshop at the Aliquippa Library.  For the Shakespeare camp you can visit manciniacademy.com for more details about how to register.   For the workshop in Aliquippa you can call 724-375-2900 to register.  

Pittsburgh Public Theater 

Acting Workshop: ACT OUT (Grades 5-8)

July 24 - 28, 2017 • Monday - Friday: 10 AM - 1 PM

Classes and workshops for students are held throughout the year at the O’Reilly Theater, the home of Pittsburgh Public Theater, located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. There is limited financial aid for students of need. For more information, please contact Katie Conaway, Director of Education & Outreach, at kconaway@ppt.org or 412.316.8200, ext. 715.

UnMaking Violence


Some of the most helpful advice I have received when it comes to portraying unlikable characters or antagonist in a performance are to approach the character without judgement.  Instead to learn about the character, what motivates them, and then find the actions that the character chooses. And then begin the process of living out the choices that that character makes throughout the story.  

The audience may judge the character, even hate them.  But as the actor portraying the character I can never hate the character.  This is a difficult practice and one that requires me to face the parts of me that are not always kind, loving, beautiful.  But doing this has helped me see that each one of us is capable of evil - destruction and violence. 

There are nuisances and complexities as to the motivators and reasons behind the whys of why we behave in certain ways.  But when I portray a character that chooses evil, I am reminded that I have parts of me that are capable of that great evil as well. 

There is much violence in our world.  And I think of our responses.  The fear.  The hatred.  The demeaning.  The ways we judge one another.  And I understand.  It is easier, simpler to make someone an 'other'.  It is easier to distance myself from something that I hate or makes me uncomfortable.

It is easier to say that could never be me.  I'd never do that.  To point fingers and judge. 

Yet, the strange thing that happens, when I study a character that I might not like, is the realization that there is humanity in that person as well.  And that's not an easy thing to see or say. 

Those that we hate, dislike, fear, demean - are human. 

Creating peace is not a six step plan.  It is often more complicated and layered to walk through than I want. I often fail at walking in peace.   

The practice of acting reminds me again and again, that if I make even those that I fear, dislike, hate, less than human - I too am practicing violence. 

I don't have answers for all the violence in the world.  But I think about the small choices my characters make over time.  How they create a story, a life.  How, the choices I make in how I see my own life and the lives of those around me build a story.  And those small steps I take are choices towards violence or unmaking violence. 

And like acting, which requires me to be in the moment, listening and reacting - my own life requires me to be in the moments listening and paying attention to my reactions.  To the choices that I am making as I live out my story moving towards violence or away from it.  And unmaking violence begins with me first - not in changing others - but in me and my story.  

Post Show Pause...


On April 2nd we finished the last of three shows of James and the Giant Peach Jr that I directed for a middle school.  I was fortunate to work with a great team of teachers and a wonderful Tech Director.  One of the aspects I enjoy about creating is the intensity that builds with a project and then it's finished.  And the end always comes with a mix of emotions.  Some projects I'm grateful they are done and others there is a deep sadness and letting go of something I have poured my heart into.  I can't always predict how I will "feel" after a project ends.  But I do know that there will be the post show 'emotions'.  

This show was a big project with 23 middle school cast members and 13 middle school crew members. People have many opinions about creating.  But my hope with this project, and when I teach, is to provide a place for students to learn life skills that acting can so beautifully teach us - teamwork, listening, vulnerability, service, and imagination.  I believe that acting should be a service.  An act of service towards the audience, the text, and each other as you work and co-create.  I'm thankful for those who have modeled that for me in my own work. Hopefully pieces of that connected with this cast. 

With the end of the show it's been nice to have a bit of a rest to audition and do some of my own work.  I don't have any big personal projects in the works.  But I keep thinking about what I want to work on next or what should be the next big project to explore personally.  Or maybe even smaller projects.   

For the moment though, its nice to pause and regroup after the close of the show.   

All the Feels...


There has been much in the news and in the world that creates a myriad of emotions in my heart. Emotions that are complex, layered, and strong.  

And my own life contains a lot of emotions as well.  Complicated, strong, hard, and numerous emotions.  Emotions tied to choices I make, and those that I have had no choice in, but impact me.

This weekend a dear friend reminded me that sitting in the emotions is ok.  That I don't have to figure them all out, or get over them, or shove them away.  That there are times when we can sit and name our emotions.  Bearing witness to what we are living in the midst of.  And that is enough in that moment. 

I was thankful for her words.  That there are seasons to our emotions.  That there is a time to sit with our emotions. A time to decided how we will act in response to the feelings and moments of our lives.  A time to mourn.  A time to laugh.  A time to simply recognize our humanness. 

This weekend I had the chance to watch the Bereishit Dance Company perform in Pittsburgh - thanks to a Christmas gift from my sister Heather.   I have mixed emotions watching dance.  There is the sense of frustration at how out of shape I am currently feeling.  Jealously that I can't move that way.  Awe at the dancers ability. Appreciation for work that often touches me. And inspiration for my own creating. 

Watching this performance this weekend I felt a few strong reminders.  One I remember the work I did with a small group of modern dancers in grad school.  Of their grace in letting me join them and co-creating with movement and text.  I loved this work.  Two I thought of the beautiful ways that we can connect across cultures and languages.  That art can carry truths that can reach between and connect us regardless of how different we may be.  Three I was encouraged by the director who came out afterward for a short talk back.  His presence in the short time I heard him reminded me again of the way I want to create.  He explained the title of the company. Bereishit is the Hebrew word that is the first word in the book of Genesis and it means "in the beginning". And following that word people began to create and fill the world as well.  Four exploring and new work has its place in the world.  Work that creates emotions and allows us to think about our own exploration and discovery is needed and feeds my heart.  

I carry so many feelings around with me.  Feelings and emotions that may never have a sense of being settled in this life time.  Sorrows that I don't always have answers for.  

But I can be a part of this 'in the beginning'. I can be a part of this creative/creation process.  I get to help choose what this world is filled with. And perhaps what I do will be a small drop in the bucket of the world.  

But I get to choose.  

As a creator and artist there is a struggle so often in my life with trying to pay bills and be responsible while pursuing creating.  And the tension I feel in wanting to create work that doesn't always fit into already established performance boxes and how to do this with the resources I have. I have been grateful for the last few months where I've had the chance to have jobs and opportunities that have used my creativity and that have connected to art.  But there is a sorrow that I hold when I am not creating and performing myself.  A sense of longing.  A longing for more.  A longing to join those performers and explore and discover. 

I don't know what is next for my performance/acting path.  But this weekend I felt the encouragement and reminder that it is good to create. That my longings and desires to fill the world with stories and creations is good. That we never know where our creations will go in the world. 

I'm still searching for what the next big project I will attempt will be.  

What story I want to tell.  

But as my friend reminded me.  There are seasons.  Seasons to be. Seasons to create. And seasons that create new 'in the beginnings' and new paths for our stories and the world.  

So here's to this complex life we live as humans.  Full of all the feelings that we hold.  And the choices we make in how we create with our lives.   

Below are links to the talk back I mentioned and a clip from the dances performed. Also I have been listening on repeat to Tim Be Told's Friends and Foes as I wrote today and it has been my go to music again and again.  Link here: https://timbetold.bandcamp.com/album/friends-and-foes



2016 Wrap Up and 2017 Preview

So a few end of 2016 in review moments and a preview of 2017. As always a huge shout out to the folks who walk alongside me in the midst of all the ups and downs.  For the coffees, meals, conversations, hugs, encouraging words, financial gifts and more....Thank You! The below happens because of the support!

To follow along with more of my creative ventures and the day to day of creating follow me on Facebook or Instagram

Teaching/Directing/SP Work

Acting Classes - I'm excited to announce I'll be teaching again at the Henry Mancini Academy on Tuesday evenings for students ages 8-17.  If you know of any young students interested in acting - acting classes are a great Christmas gift and registration is open for classes starting the end of January. 

Directing -  A huge shout out to East End Performing Arts run by Jamie Faire for connecting me with the Community Day School.  I'll be directing their spring musical, James and the Giant Peach Jr. and rehearsals are already underway with performances to be held on March 29th, 30th, and April 2nd 2017. 

Standardized Patient Work - One of my favorite jobs, that both challenges and inspires me, is the Standardized Patient work that I do.  Here's a link to the audio and transcript WESA-FM did on the SP Program I'm a part of: WESA-FM featured our SP Program for their series, “Bridges to Health”. 



Writing - This summer I finally put together some of the scripts I've used over the years in various Shakespeare camps that I've run.  And they are all available for purchase in my store. One of the three scripts, Our Seven Ages - A Shakespeare ReMix is also available on Amazon.  

Kickstand, a short film I acted in this summer for the Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Project won Audience Award for its group showing.  

Here Beside Me - You can watch the short film I performed in with Pittsburgh Actor's Space for the Four Points Film Project at the link to the right.  Also if you are an actor or creative in Pittsburgh be sure to check out the great work that Valerie Gasior is doing and the generous spirit she brings to the creative world of Pittsburgh Actor's Space


A Christmas Carol - A Radio Play with the Ghost Light Theater Company. This was my first time performing in a radio play and it was great fun learning multiple roles and working on my voice to convey these characters with live foley and music on stage. 







Audio Book - I put together my first audio book this summer and had the great opportunity of working on my sister's book.  You can purchase a copy of the audio or written version on Amazon.   




Again a huge thanks to everyone who has helped me walk through this year.  And don't forget to follow along on social media to see how 2017 unfolds :)....

Telling Stories

I'm fascinated by stories.  How they work.  The avenues in which they can be conveyed.  How a dance can create a world or a statue can convey a character and story.  

Personally I have found stories to be avenues for me to see the world in new ways.  To be challenged, inspired, and encouraged.  And they have been places of healing in my own life.  But they have also been places where I have seen destruction occur.  

I have been thinking a great deal about stories as I absorb the news, language, and stories being told during the US elections.  

There is much anger.  Much dehumanizing and critiquing that is meant to undermine and pull others apart.   And it has left me feeling beat up, sad, angry, and depressed. 

I've been thinking of a performance of Freud's Last Session I watched a few years ago.  A fictional story that puts Freud and C.S. Lewis in the same room.  It is a play that explores their ideas in front of a live audience.  Two men who come together from widely different perspectives and talk face to face. There is no 'resolution' in the play. They hold their opinions in the end.  But the audience is left with something.  The audience is left with the gift of watching these two humans see each others humanity.  I remember sitting in the audience watching those around me listen thoughtfully, respectfully as we heard two men on a stage talk and disagree. In front of us was an embodiment of respect and care for those who differ from us.  

Creating art is hard.  Choosing to try to be thoughtful about the projects I do has meant frustration and financial struggle.  

But as I read, watch, and interact with art and stories I am reminded that we all add to the river of culture.  

I see a lot of fingers pointed.  A lot of anger around me.  Blaming and fear.  So much fear.  And it has been easy for me to point fingers as well. To point out all the other people who are wrong and causing problems. To respond with fear and a refusal to see others humanity.  To be unwilling to see where I might be wrong or need to learn or grow.   

And if I fall into the trap of pointing only towards others as the problem I miss out on my responsibility.  That I have choices.  Choices about how I face ways racism has seeped into my life and the privilege I have as a white woman in this country.  Choices about how I see those who are different from me.  Choices about the work I create or work I support that might not provide opportunities for me but opportunities for others stories to be told.   

Art like any part of society can be used for good or harm.  Stories have immense power and capability to help us see one another.  Either in creating language that destroys another human or helps us see someone in their humanity, regardless of whether we agree with them or not. One thing I know is how as a country we are in need of help in seeing one another as people.  Beyond the names to the people behind the name calling and finger pointing.  To create and participate in work that reminds us of the things we all share in - love, suffering, loneliness, sorrow, joy, laughter, tears.  That we can disagree but still care for each other. 

I can't change the world.  But I hope that as I move forward I work to change my own life and the ways I create.  That I would be willing to take risks to grow and learn more about how I can respect and bring life to the stories of those around me.  I have much to learn. And it is not always a journey I want to take.  But in the midst of the harmful stories being told around me I have witnessed stories that have been shared to heal, challenge, and connect. And I am reminded that I want to be a part of that conversation.  That I want to tell stories that add to this practice of listening and seeing one another.   I am one small part of a large country and world.  My passion is stories.  It is one small part of what makes culture and adds to our world.  But I have a choice in the telling of stories.  Of how and the whys behind how I practice and live out this storytelling.   And I want to move in the direction of telling stories that help us listen, respect, love and see one another. 

And because there is much ugly in the news I leave you with a picture of this crazy silly Luna that makes me laugh and wiggles with the best of them.  



Summer Projects and Updates

This summer I stepped into some new realms of the creative process as well as working on some older projects.  But below you can see a glimpse at some of my work this summer. 

Voice Over/Audio Book

I started auditioning and doing some work with voice over and completed my first audio book that was just published this month.  You can listen to a sample of it and learn more about it by clicking on the link to the right. 

Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Project

I had the chance to participate in the 48 Hour Film Project again this summer and had a great time working with EPOS Productions on their short film Kickstand.  We made it into the Best of Showing and won the audience award for our screening and the main actor Matt Weitz won the best acting award. When it becomes available on-line I'll be sure to share it. 




Over the last few years I have run several acting camps and a few of them have been focused on Shakespeare and his work.  And finally this summer I sat down and edited and published a few of the scripts that I used and created for my students.  You can now purchase Our Seven Ages: A Shakespeare ReMix on-line in Kindle and Paper versions.  The other two will be available shortly. The short video goes into more detail about the scripts and how they can be used. 

In a Day...

It can be strange to explain my life/days to people.  I don't have a 'typical' schedule.  It tends to change from week to week, day to day.  In general I like this.  I enjoy the variety of things I'm able to experience and do.  There are other days when I sit in front of my computer overwhelmed trying to balance numerous jobs.  

There is no typical 'actor' schedule.  It varies greatly depending on the person and what work they are getting and their individual goals as an actor.  

There are days when I'm super productive and others when I sit overwhelmed, not sure of how to plan and balance dreams with bills.  There are days that feel full of creativity and others spent in front of a computer organizing and scheduling.  

My life as an actor.  My life as a creator.  Changes.  Stops and starts.  Good days.  Hard days.    

And somedays I capture moments from my day to remind myself that all the seconds add up.  That there are so many ways to be human, actors, creators, individuals, and community members. 

What if we rebelled more as actors?

One of the things that frustrates me in talking to actors is the sense that there is a lack of control that often runs through the actor's world.  A waiting for someone to notice an audition and cast you.  Waiting for someone to decide that they want to work with you.  Waiting and more waiting. 

I dislike this for a few reasons.  

1. I'm not good at waiting. 

2. It creates discouraged disheartened creators. 

3. It creates a sense that actors have no control of their work or future. 

If creatives/actors/artists are stereotyped as rule breakers I'm often amazed at how closely we hold to ideas/rules about how actors are to create.  

I know some of the boundaries are there for good reasons.  And I believe in boundaries, I think it creates better atmospheres for art to have space to come to life. 

But what if...

What if we didn't wait for someone else but created our own work? 

What if we created in non-traditional spaces and locations? 

What if we didn't put the value on how much our work made and instead the ways it brought people together? 

What if we celebrated others work instead of finding all the ways to destroy each other? 

What if we created in the midst of our fear and still put one foot in front of the other and and made stuff?

What if we weren't afraid of making mistakes?  

What if we didn't let all the things that might keep us from being cast stop us and instead used them to create stories that aren't being told? 

What if we didn't let our looks, age, race, gender...etc. keep us from creating? 

I realize that practicing these questions most likely won't result in making money.  Or even be art that reaches large audiences. 

I know that this kind of art doesn't often pay the bills and is hard to market. 

But perhaps, just perhaps we'd be less frustrated as actors/creators if we made work. If we were more rebellious and said we weren't going to wait for someone to notice us and instead created now, where we are, with what we have, and in the circumstances we are in the midst of. 

Because if we got into acting because we love it then it would be worth it.  

If we want to act because we want to be noticed or make lots of money than another approach is necessary! :) 

I look at these 'what if' questions and remind myself that these are for me. That the creative journey is a strange journey - but life is strange.  And no one is stopping us from creating right where we are.  Creating where we are, with what we have, and who we are, may mean swallowing our pride and feeling stupid and making mistakes...it's hard.

But what if.... 

What if we rebel - Act/Create - even if we don't have the perfect headshot, resume, and we just bombed that audition and that other actor turned their nose up at your resume, or we're too old or not the right look, or you're fighting the never ending script in your head that tells you that you are wasting your time.  

What if we said - enough is enough.  

Let's create.  Let's tell stories.  With a belief that there isn't a shortage of roles in the world.  That the only limit is our imaginations.  Let's flood the world with creators who say - I get to create today - instead of I have to wait for someone to give me that big break.  

And what if our dream was not about what we accomplish, but rather what kind of person we are becoming while chasing after those dreams and creating.  




Happy Valentine's Day - Help me Tell a Love Story Today

Valentine's Day can create a whole range of emotions.  Perhaps you are in a wonderful relationship and it's a time to celebrate together. (I'm excited for you!  I hope you celebrate well today.) Or perhaps relationships have brought a great deal of heartbreak for you.  (I'm sorry and I hope you have someone who will cry with you.) Or maybe love has been more a mix of the lonely, awkward, and uncomfortable - than good and beautiful.  (Sorry it's so messy. I hope you find people to laugh and cry with.)  

When I think about love stories I am reminded of acting.  Over the years I've had the chance to be involved in telling some amazing love stories.  And I love a good love story.  These times have been reminders that life can hold immeasurable beauty.   But what I've seen in telling these stories is that even if my own relationships have been bad or non-existent I still have a choice.  I can still be a part of telling love stories.  And maybe they aren't the love stories we imagine for ourselves. But I do believe we have a choice to join in creating and telling love stories no matter how messy, broken, or bitter our own hearts may feel. And though we might not be able to change the circumstances of our lives - we always have a choice in how we will respond.  It's not always my first choice or an easy choice, but I keep trying to choose Love.  And that's why I need great love stories - to remind me that the choice is worth it.  

So for today - wherever your heart may be - consider joining me in helping tell a great love story.  Everyone can take part! 

So this is what I'm doing today....

I often think of my creative process sort of like a magpie, a bird that collects lots of random crazy stuff and then brings it back to its nest and makes something with it.   So I've collected a number of different love poems/stories/text and put them together.  It's my way of choosing to tell stories of love.  I tried to select from around the world - because I believe love stories cross cultures and all the walls we put between us as people.   So this is my practice of reminding myself to choose love, inspired by a great organization.  

And the inspiration for today comes from the Preemptive Love Coalition.  They are an organization working in areas of the world where the idea of love is the last thing people think of when they hear stories of where they are working.  But their message of love in the face of fear is inspiring.  

So I hope you will join me in supporting Preemptive Love today - so we can all be a part of telling something the whole world needs - and that's great love stories.  

Here's what you can do: 

1. Visit Preemptive Love's site and read their stories.  

2. Share their work with your family or friends.  I think most of us could do with some news that shares something other than violence with the world. 

3. Send them a note of encouragement.  I know how much words of encouragement - in the form of letters, or a quick note on social media, or in person can mean.  So consider sending them a note to encourage them in their work today. 

4. Donate to their work. 

I do hope you are having a day filled with love.  But even if it's a crappy day - I hope you will join me.  For I have found that diving into good love stories is good for the hard days and lonely days. 


Text Taken from the following Sources: 

Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Love by Pablo Neruda 

I Will Pronounce Your Name by Leopold Sedar Senghor 

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare 

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare 

Touched by an Angel by Maya Angelou

You are so Lovely by Kim Yong-taek

Deerskin by Robin McKinley 

The Love of Which I Speak by Juma Bhalo

Music - "November" by Bensound.com ) 


Cover Letter Fun

Over the last few weeks I've been working to up-date my CV Resume, which you can now find here - CV -  as well as some other up-dates for my work.  

Not the most fun creative sort of project.  

But I have found the process to be good in one respect.  It's helped me stop and think about all the little steps that I've taken over the last few years.  As well as providing a way to stop and reflect on what I want to do in the future.     

Sometimes it does feel like the traditional resume and cover letter formats don't fit how I want to share my ideas and work.  So I had a little fun and created a more creative cover letter/resume/acting thing.  :)  

The big take away has been the reminder that creating is a marathon, and I need to keep taking those small steps in the right direction.  

Steps in a Direction

I think the small moments are important in our lives. This year I've fallen in love with this artist's work on the left.  You can find Puung's work at this web site http://www.grafolio.com/puuung1

It's a celebration of the little moments.  And it is heart warming and a bright spot in my year. 

I have hopes and dreams for 2016.  But I'm also struggling to hope big.  To dream.  

I don't want to be afraid to dream.  To hope for big beautiful things in the world and life.  But 2016 feels a bit hard to tackle.  And yes a lot of this is all the feels of Sarah.  Learning to live in the hard and beautiful emotions of life.  The down side of being a feeling actor.   

I'm thinking of my favorite book at the moment.  Deerskin by Robin McKinely.  A book about healing.  A book about painful scars.  And the character's choice to make small steps forward towards love.  

And maybe that is enough for 2016.  To take steps slowly in a direction.  

In The Heart of Shahrazad I wrote that we all makes steps towards love or death.  I believe this.  But some days/years choosing love, even in small amounts is hard.  I want it all sorted out.  I want to know why.  To see the path clearly ahead.   

I want to be an optimist.  I want to crawl out from under guilt or shame or whatever comes with creating art and the hardness of pursuing this crazy journey.  

Yet.  For today.  And I think for 2016 the goal is steps in a direction.  The direction of love and life. 

I spoke with my philsopher friend Dr. Meek a few years ago about life.  And she encouraged me to think about what gave me joy and do it.  That it was ok to pour into the things we love.  

Some days this is painfully hard.  Because the things I love are also things that have meant the bills are hard to pay.  They don't always make sense.  There are a thousand excuses for why I shouldn't pour into them.  Too old.  Started too late.  It's a waste.  And even the things I love are hard to do.  Because you can try really hard and still not succeed.  

But maybe the choice and direction for this year is simply to take steps in a direction towards the things I love.  Learning to quiet the voices that say no.  

To take the steps of Sisyphus who rolled a rock up a hill again and again.  (This article by Sarah Thebarge gave me a new perspective on Sisyphus this year.  http://sarahthebarge.com/2015/11/saint-sarah-love-alone/ )

I've looked back at the last few years and my work.  And all the steps forward add up over time.  Slowly.  Ever so slowly.  

We are each on a journey.  Filled with our own pains.  Often ones the world doesn't see.  I don't want to run from pain or scars.  I want to look them square in the face and take that giant rock and roll it up the hill and choose love. 

And I'm learning that even the days when I sit at the bottom of the hill and give up are ok. That there is grace for the days when we have to wait for the strength to move forward.  

And perhaps being content with "okay".  Not brilliant.  Not a genius.  Not the best.  Just putting one foot in front of the other is enough.  That not all of us are world changers, but even our little steps into the world can make a difference.  

So I'm pointing my feet towards the path I hope to journey on this year.  And for today that is enough.  For who can predict the future.  

So here's to the work and steps of 2016.  

May we find love for the journey.  Enough silliness to bring laughter into the darkness. And hearts with just enough rebellion to choose love despite the odds.  

The Lonely Clown

I don't have any big projects at the moment so I've been experimenting and playing with stories in different ways.  One such experiment has been with Instagram, playing with creating short stories/ideas in 15 seconds.  

In the midst my heart has been full of the hurt in the world. 

I don't have answers. 

But I keep thinking about stories.  

I've always been drawn to stories from countries and places far from my own.  The differences push me to think about stories in new ways, as well as reminding me how connected we are as people.  We all mourn and laugh.  

Nearly three years ago my mom started watching Korean TV.  I joined her.  I can't explain all of what draws me to Korean storytelling.  Perhaps it's the love of food - and the central character it so often plays.  Maybe the family structures and dynamics that remind me of my own family.  Or it could be the emotional ranges the characters explore that are different than American TV/Film.

The news is full of fear.  A  reminded of how easily I fall into fear.  Loneliness.  Distrust.  

Yes, the world is scary.  Fearful.  And loneliness doesn't discriminate. 


Despite my fear.  Despite loneliness.  

I hope I still have courage to step into stories - those of people near and far away.  

The best stories are not devoid of conflict or fear.  They are instead full of characters, who despite the conflict, and their own fears, strive to tell a different story. 

So I created a little Thank You to the Korean artists whose work has reached into my heart and mind the last few years.   Because here in Western, PA, in a place far away and culturally different, I have been given the gift and reminder through these stories that I am not alone. For me that is the beauty of storytelling.  The powerful ways it reminds us that we are not alone. 

So wherever you are tonight.  Even if you are feeling afraid, lonely, discouraged, excited, joyful - or all of them at once.  I hope you know that you walk this earth with millions of others who also mourn and laugh.  

May we tell stories that remind each other of our connections.  That we are not alone. 

And to all the Artists near and far who tell stories that remind me that I'm not alone - Thank You.  

Now go hug someone :).  Because I think we could all use a hug.  

Click to visit  The Lonely Clown

Reflections on Adoption / May I be a Better Listener

I’ve sat and written this piece several times over the last few weeks.  It’s hard to know what to say when the subject is so layered for me, when my feelings and understandings continue to change.  But I write this because I want to share an important voice that has impacted my own art in many ways – Rhonda Roorda

Six years ago I was working on a solo performance piece.  A piece I had started working on in graduate school.  It was a piece about my family and adoption.  I am not adopted myself, and it wasn’t my goal to be the voice of adoptees.  But I wanted to share threads of the stories I have witnessed and walked alongside as a sibling of adoptees. 

Working on the piece was difficult, complicated, and brought up so many questions of my own understanding of what adoption is and is not.  

As I was researching and preparing I wrote a blog piece on Rhonda Roorda’s three co-authored books.  In Their Own Voices, In Their Parents' Voices, and In Their Siblings' Voices, a three part series containing interviews of African American Adoptees, their white parents, and their non-adopted siblings.  

In a response to my blog, Rhonda reached out to me and asked if we could talk.  It was a gift I shall never forget.  It was the first time I had the chance to talk to someone who, like my siblings, was adopted by a family that was a different race.  In the midst of our conversation, she said something I will never forget.  She said, “It’s complicated”.  “Yes”, I said.  And felt relief.  For the first time someone had used a word that helped define what I felt.  Adoption is complicated.   It’s not all cute and sparkly and wonderful – it can often be heart wrenching and dark.  Rhonda gave me the freedom to say that there was more than one story to the adoption narrative. Rhonda graciously came to the opening of my show and helped facilitate a talk back session afterwards.  Her willingness to share her story, has been a powerful example of vulnerability and generosity that has helped shape the kind of work I hope my art can continue to be a part of - art that is vulnerable and generous.

November is a month that focuses on adoption. It is a month where many of the voices discussing adoption are adoptive parents or agencies who help facilitate adoptions.  These voices are part of the story.  They are part of the adoption process.  But they are only a part.  There are also the voices of the adoptees, of birth families, of siblings and communities.  Adoption is complicated.  Adoption stirs many intense and deep feelings.  And adoption starts with a child’s loss.  And we each deal with loss in different ways.  

Working on my solo show, six years ago, stretched me and provided conversations with audiences that helped me explore and grow in my own understanding of adoption.   I’m still learning.  I’m still reminded that I have much to learn – about adoption, about race in the US, about loss, about listening.

As a sibling of adoptees I often feel overwhelmed.  I feel the loss.  The aches.  The wounds.  Not because they are mine, but because I watch and witness them unfolding near me. 

Rhonda’s work has taught me that though I may not be able to change or fight all that is broken, that I can and should take the first step of learning to be a good listener.  To practice bearing witness to the stories and lives of those who entrust me with their stories.  Her books are a reminder to me, as an artist, as a human being, that there is great power in listening to one another.  That it takes practice and intention to allow someone to share their story without my agenda becoming the most important part of the conversation.  

For over twenties years I have walked in the midst of adoption.  Like many I have strong ideas and opinions.  I have learned how deeply racism has twisted our relationships and connections as people and as a country.  I have been deeply changed by my siblings and their stories. 

I wish I had a list of quick fixes to end with.  Instead I leave you with a few thoughts and resources. 

1.     I encourage you to read Rhonda’s work.  She has just published a new book entitled, In Their Voices, Black Americans on Transracial Adoption.  Her writing has helped me understand in deeper ways the power of listening.  The power of providing safe places for people to share their stories, without interruption or interjections or silencing. Regardless of what you know or think about adoption her work is a powerful look at race and ways we can all learn to be more generous fellow citizens. And in the midst of so much racial tension in our country her work is a powerful example of one woman's willingness to do the hard work of listening and providing space for people's voices to be heard. 

2.     As a White American, I am sorry for the ways I have and others have silenced the stories of minorities. I am sorry for the ignorance or pain my words, actions, or behavior have caused.  I will, I’m sure, make mistakes again, but I hope that I can move forward with more grace and generosity to honor the stories I have been given the privilege to bear witness to, as a sibling and fellow human being.  

And finally in the midst of a month that focuses on adoption, I encourage us all to listen to the voices of adoptees – to hear their stories.   To be willing to hear the layers and complexities of adoption and be reminded that none of us fits into a box - but that the layers of our stories shape us - and their is value in the specifics of each story.   

Below are just a few adoptees whose work has been helpful for me in thinking through the complexities of adoption: 

Rhonda Roorda - Author and Expert on Transracial Adoption Web Site - RhondaMRoorda.Com

Carissa Woodwyk - Counselor and Adoptee  - Web Site - https://carissawoodwyk.wordpress.com

Tara VanderWoude - Social Worker and Adoptee - Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/TaraVanderWoude/

Angela Tucker  - Adoptee whose story was shared in a documentary film called Closure.  Her most recent project is on Kickstarter.  To learn more about this project and how you can help be a part of the process of young adoptees sharing their stories visit - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1885614069/the-adopted-life-episodes

GOWE - Song about his adoption story - I Wonder - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXcblBDTAoQ

My work as an artist has been deeply impacted by adoption and the work of Rhonda Roorda and others who have courageously shared the layers and complexities of their stories.  I am thankful for Rhonda, for her work that has pushed me to listen, to grow, and to deepen my understanding of what it means to be a human and artist.  And to the many other adoptees, whose stories have helped me understand my own story, thank you.