Wednesday, March 30, 2011

El Nogalar By Tanya Saracho

Many years ago I heard about people flocking to an underpass in Chicago to get a glimpse at the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary which had appeared. Friends who had seen performances of my play, In The Dark, asked if I would join the individuals rushing to the location? My answer was of course not. I do not believe Mary would appear under a bridge or in a grilled cheese sandwich. I shook my head at the news of those flocking to catch a glimpse and thought someone is bound to write a film or play about this. After some time, I received an email from a Chicago theater company informing their list members of the latest show appearing on their stage. Our Lady Of The Underpass. A story inspired by true events of the Virgin Mary appearing. It was written by Tanya Saracho. The more I read reviews, the more intrigued I became to see the show. I was not able to attend, but I found myself interested. Soon after, I began to see the name Tanya Saracho appearing elsewhere. She was writing more plays which were being produced. The more I read articles from the Chicago Tribune and Time Out Chicago, the more I found myself drawn to Tanya.

As the years have gone by, Tanya Saracho's work has appeared on stages all around Chicago. She has steadily become a voice for this generation of young artists. She is a playwright, actress, and director who has been receiving greater publicity in recent years. Our Lady Of The Underpass has gone on to be a Jeff nominated piece. The Jeff Awards are like the Academy Awards for Chicago Theater. This past weekend, a wonderful piece appeared in the New York Times discussing Tanya Saracho who has become a national sensation! The greatest thrill for me came last summer when I decided to reach out to Tanya and introduce myself. Since then, I have been caught up in the excitement that is the Tanya Saracho Superstar Train! My budding friendship with her has enabled me to watch a talented writer do what she does best. I find inspiration through watching her work her way through the process of writing and getting her pieces produced. It has been quite a learning experience and a joy to get to know Tanya. I look back on it and think that the best thing to happen was people insisting the Virgin Mary appeared to them under that bridge all those many years ago. For it may have been that moment which inspired Tanya to write her play which I then read about and found myself intrigued by the woman who wrote it. Many years later, I am steadily becoming her friend and find myself excited about going to see her latest play, El Nogalar, which is now playing at Chicago's famed Goodman Theatre.

For more information about Tanya Saracho's El Nogalar, please watch the behind the scenes video at the following link:

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Falling In Love Leads To Denver Triathlon

Ever since that Thursday evening in May 2007 when I watched Fit TV's Insider Training featuring Lokelani McMichael, I have truly enjoyed what has resulted from the inspiration I received. It was the fifth time I had watched that very episode. Each time I watched it, I felt more and more inspired to tackle the sport of triathlon. I did not know how to swim, but I wanted the challenge to swim, bike, and run in one event. I did not know if I could achieve my goal. I did not know if it was even possible for me to race triathlons or whether I would even enjoy the experience. After losing my eyesight when I was fourteen years old, I was introduced to sports adapted for the blind and visually impaired. Baseball, basketball, and others. I enjoyed the ability to participate in sports again, but I kept comparing the experience to what it was like playing these sports when I had sight. It was night and day. I was never any good, but I loved being out there. I loved being around my friends and every so often, impressing a girl or two. As I played sports for the blind and visually impaired, I did not find the strategy to be as big a part of the sports experience as I was use to in my sighted days. I could not be a table setter like Bob Dernier, Brett Butler, or Ricky Henderson. The baseball for the blind was not built with the idea of "get 'em on get 'em over get 'em in." When I played basketball for the blind, I could not be Bobby Hurley or Magic Johnson by handling the ball, distributing to my teammates, and driving to the basket to draw defenders in just to kick it out to an open player for an easy bucket. Nor was I able to get out in transition and drain a backbreaking three pointer. If triathlon race officials allowed for accommodations in order for me to participate, would I have the same enriched experience as someone sighted or would the adaptations cause the sport to be vastly different that I would not like it? A greater question was, would I even be allowed to race?

I jumped online and began typing in search terms like blind triathlete and triathlon racing, visually impaired. I found several articles of many athletes who were blind and visually impaired racing triathlons. I also kept coming across the names C Different Foundation, Matt Miller, and Victory Over Darkness. After finding the C Different web site, I spent time reading about the founder, Matt Miller. I read about his time as a triathlete, model, and actor. I read how much he enjoyed his life and lifestyle, but wanted to be judged by the content of his character and not on whether he looked pretty enough on a specific day. Matt decided to start working with the blind and visually impaired to give them an avenue by which they could compete in the sport he loved. As he worked with one, two, then three athletes. More began to reach out to him. Friends began sending other athletes his way and before long, Matt had a steadily growing network of blind and visually impaired triathletes as well as volunteers willing to serve as sighted guides. Another of Matt's passion is telling stories so why not combine the love of triathlons and story telling to inform the world about these athletes? Thus was born, Victory Over A Darkness. A film set to document the courageous attempt by five blind and visually impaired athletes and their guides to train for and complete the Ironman Triathlon.

After reading about all this work, I decided to reach out to Matt and his organization. I introduced myself and my racing goals. Matt welcomed me with open arms and soon others from the C Different Foundation reached out to express a desire to help me in whatever manner they could. Months later, I ran my first 5K for CDF which was soon followed by my first attempt at a half marathon at the AIA Half Marathon/Full Marathon in Fort Lauderdale where Matt introduced me to an amazing race director, Chris Laskey. I had been focussed on my road race training and had just begun to work with some wonderful swim instructors, but was nowhere near ready for a triathlon at any distance. Matt insisted I had plenty of time to work myself into shape and get to New York for the New York city Triathlon. I was not quite ready, but I agreed to be there so I boarded a plane and headed to my date with the Hudson River. Plenty of prayers and a great sighted guide, Brian Pearlman, helped me through the swim and across the finish line in my first ever triathlon! Just over a year after Lokelani's interview, I had completed my first swim, bike, run event. I had always heard that "Once you experience your first, you get hooked." After the race, I was not quite hooked. I loved being out there, but the swim was so daunting. Then my friend, Kelle, walked up and said, "Take what you learned in this one and apply it to the next one." I laughed and said, "I am one and done." Kelle laughed right back and said, "Trust me, there is always a next one." Soon I was invited to Southbeach, but I declined because my swimming was not up to par. Brian Pearlman had agreed to guide me so I know I disappointed him when I chose not to race it. He will never say it publicly, but in my heart, I believe it. So when a second chance to race New York came about, I jumped at it. That experience was so magical mainly because of how proud my guide, Brendan Hermes was for our achievement. I know Matt was proud too. The countless family and friends who remained positive in the weeks leading up to the event lifted my spirits. The nonstop support from Facebook friends was amazing. On that day, I fell in love with triathlons! The moment I realized I had fallen in love, I thought to myself, "Yes, Kelle, there is another and there will be more."

I truly enjoy the experiences which come with triathlon training and racing. I love that the sport of triathlon is not a race, but a lifestyle. An active healthy lifestyle. In just a short time, I have received so much from the sport. I have met so many wonderful athletes and friends. I have been able to travel to other cities. This summer I am adding a new city to that growing list. Denver. I will be racing in the inaugural Denver Triathlon. I will experience John Elway's city. I will compete in the mile high city and push my body to the limits in a new way at a new altitude for me. I thank the race directors, Matt Miller and Chris Laskey, for the opportunity with which I have been presented. I look forward to sharing my experience on race weekend. I am also excited about doing what I can to promote the Denver Triathlon and the sport of triathlon. I am thrilled and hope my readers will come along for the ride over the next few months.

If anyone is looking for a triathlon event, either a sprint or olympic distance, please consider adding the Denver Triathlon to your schedule. Sunday, July 24, 2011. For more information, course details, and registration, please log on to:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Columbia Condos Featuring Amanda Grace

In recent weeks, you may have been watching your favorite prime time programs or your favorite sports team on a national game of the night coverage. If so, then chances are you have seen the following commercial for the Columbia Condos. If that too is true then you have seen my dear friend, the lovely and talented, Amanda Grace, who appears in the commercial. If you have not seen it, here is your chance to enjoy her work.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon/5K

In 2010, I read a story in Runners World Magazine about Emily Schaller who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was eighteen months old and was not expected to make it to her eighteenth birthday. Emily is now in her late twenties and the founder of the Rock CF Foundation. I enjoyed reading Emily's words that she believes she is on this earth to "rock CF on its ass!" On Sunday, March 20, Emily will lead the way for thousands of runners and volunteers in the inaugural Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon And 5K in Grosse Ile, Mi. Some great sponsors have donated many items which the participants and volunteers will enjoy throughout the day. Many runners who had hoped to run, but were not able to make the trip are able to contribute by either donating money to the cause or by performing a virtual run wherever they may be in the world.

The hope is that with events such as this one which Emily spearheaded and the tireless researching by some of the great scientific minds, eventually, CF will stand for cure found. When that day does arrive, everyone in the world will be able to breathe a sigh of relief that the disease has been weeded out and those with Cystic Fibrosis will be able to simply breathe. Here is hoping CF does in fact get rocked on its ass and that it happens very soon.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Collaboraction

A wonderful way to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day is to watch some talented individuals performing live. Before and after the performance, enjoy great green beer, appetizers, and speaking to cast members including my dear friend, the lovely and talented, Laura Shatkus. Collaboraction presents Sketchbook: REVERB. It is a compilation of the top pieces previously produced by Collaboraction over the last ten years. This gives audiences a chance to see these actors perform a wide range of characters in various settings.

For more information such as; location, time, and price, please log on to:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Laura Sturm Discusses Ephemera Set Designs

Here is a second installment of a podcast interview series with the beautiful, talented, amazing, Laura Sturm. She is my dear friend, one of the most influential individuals in my life when it comes to breaking down my artistic walls, a tremendous instructor who taught me to embrace my body as an instrument to express joy, sadness, and sexuality on stage and in film, and a spectacular artist who is known for her amazing ability to act and direct. Laura is directing the world premiere production of Ephemera written by Bryce Wissel. In this interview, she discusses the set designs and props which were constructed by her husband.

Please listen to the podcast at the following site:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

American Greed Featuring Amanda Grace

My friend, Amanda Grace, is such an amazing talented actress, model, and singer. She is one of the nicest sweetest people anyone could ever have the privilege to call a friend. If you read my entries on a regular basis then you have previously read what I have written about her. Tonight, all can see in working her magic on the television screen on CNBC's American Greed where she plays one of the Hollywood thieves known as the bling ring Please make sure to tune in at 10p.m. eastern/9p.m. central to watch Amanda Grace.

For more information or to check out other airings in case you miss it, log on to:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Laura Sturm Directs Ephemera

When I was fourteen years old, I fell in love with talk radio. I spent the next decade dreaming of and pursuing a radio career. Eventually, I realized that maybe I was not meant to be a radio star and hall of fame broadcaster so I sat down to write my first ever full length feature screenplay. After writing it, I knew I had to take acting classes. I searched online and spoke to various people about potential schools. Each time I would read an instructor's biography, I would look for a connection. I would look to see where the instructor went to school or some of the programs with which he or she has been associated. I came across the biography for Laura Sturm who received her MFA from the same school I received my BA and at around the same time. Instantly, I was drawn to her. Like a magnet. I needed to meet her. More important, I had to study with her. I could not quite understand it, but I was overtaken by this desire to have her teach me about acting and to do what she could to get the best out of me. I had not a clue whether she would be interested in meeting or working with me, but I had an overwhelming desire to do whatever I had to do to get into her classes. As it turns out, I registered for my first acting class taught by Laura. Before it was made official, I went in to meet with her face-to-face and she was so delightful and so interested in working with me that my initial meeting felt more like I was seeing a long lost friend. I spent a couple years taking every class I could which was taught by Laura. The changes she would make in my artistic style, voice, and personality was so evident that other instructors would praise Laura's ability to connect, inspire, and change me while tapping into the talent I did not even realize I possessed. There are several teachers and classmates who played major roles in bringing out the best of me, but Laura will always have a special place in my heart because she has done the most work to understand my defense walls then put on her hard hat and go to work breaking it down one brick at a time until I stepped on to a stage for the first time as a professional actor and dazzled audiences with my performances. Laura, who has been one of my greatest supporters and toughest critics, was so moved by my performance and said I was doing things, reacting, and moving in ways that even she had not seen from me during the classes she taught. Dare I say, I love Laura Sturm! She continues to support, motivate, and teach me to this day. She is such an amazing instructor, actor, director, artist, and friend. Beauty, talent, and brains. Laura is one of the most amazing individuals I have ever had the privilege of having in my life.

Please check out the podcast interview featuring the lovely Laura Sturm discussing the latest project which she is directing. The play, Ephemera runs from March 22 through May 1, 2011. As time gets closer and throughout the run, I will post more information as it becomes available. Please enjoy Laura at this site: