Tuesday, March 27, 2012

World Theatre Day

Happy World Theatre Day!! It has been a wonderful day celebrating and thanking the wonderful friends whom I am privileged to know whose talents are frequently display on a stage for all to watch. As a playwright, I am always tickled when talented individuals bring my words on a page to life. As an actor, it is always exciting to write a piece then get it on its feet. It is also thrilling to take someone else's work and bring it to life. Of course, then there is the audience whose there providing feedback. At times, they get lost in the world we create. At other times, they discuss the subject of the play long after the performance has concluded. I have been privileged to have the experience of having people say I inspired them through my theater pieces. I have been told by long time friends, they learned new information about me and my life by attending one of my shows. I have been honored to hear Jenniffer Weigel, an award winning journalist, TV anchor, and radio personality, say that it was a performance of one of my shows which inspired her to follow her heart and write what turned out to be an award winning one woman show. In all the years I had been a fan of Jen's work, I could never imagine that one day I would be inspiring her, but that is the beauty of the theater.

Here is a very touching quote to share on this day.

"May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do. May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life's work. And may the best of you - for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments - succeed in framing that most basic of questions, "how do we live?" Godspeed." - John Malkovich

To watch John's full address, click on the link to watch the video. See you at a live show soon!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yo Solo Theatre Festival Submission

I first heard about Collaboraction through my friend, Laura Shatkus. She is a talented actress who has done work there in the past. I heard about Teatro Vista through various friends who have been cast in shows there. I have seen work performed by Teatro Vista which was written by the very talented playwright, Tanya Saracho, a woman whose work I respect tremendously and whose friendship in recent years has meant plenty. When I read that both groups were joining forces, I was excited to hear what they would do. It turns out, they are seeking submissions! Deadline is this coming Sunday. They are seeking one person shows to be part of Yo Solo theatre Festival this coming July and August. I remembered when I first wrote my autobiographical theater piece, In the Dark, I began with the idea it would be a one man show in the style of a John Leguizamo piece. After ITD was named a New Play Fest selection by the good people at Prop THTR, the decision was made to expand the show to include more actors. There is a part of me which has always wanted to write and perform a solo piece. I also remember what my friend, actress, and teacher, Laura Sturm said about the news of altering In the Dark from a solo piece to a bigger cast. She loved it because my acting training was built on playing off of a scene partner. What my instructors has taught me to do was to give others substance with which to play while I embraced what they offered me and reacted to those offerings in the moment. Not having scene partners would not allow this beautiful form of expressive art to take place. However, I could still evoke a response and give a special experience to my audience. In addition, I could get back on a stage to share a story and myself. I do not know how a solo show will work, but I am willing to try. I do admit that there is some anxiety, but when a respected actress, director, and teacher such as Eileen Vorbach offers to give her wisdom at any point in the process I request it, I have to jump at that opportunity while giving myself a shot by sending something in for consideration. Of course, so many talented writers will do the same. I just want a chance. Here is said chance. I will seize it and see how it plays out. For anyone who is also interested in sending in a work, here is the link to the information.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Brendan's Half Marathon For A Friend

In early July of 2010, I received an e-mail from my friend, Matt Miller, founder of the C Different Foundation, informing me he had found someone to volunteer as my sighted guide for the New York City Triathlon. The someone was a man maned Brendan hermes. Matt said Brendan and I should hit it off instantly because we had the same interests. We sent e-mails back and forth. Brendan and I then spoke on the phone. I told him how nervous I was about the swim in the Hudson River because I was not a strong swimmer by any stretch. In fact, I had recently suffered an anxiety attack in my local pool as I reached the wall at the deep end. Something happened where I just thought I'm going to be the Hudson River for one mile and without the ability to stand up as I would in the shallow end of a pool. Somehow, as I reached the deep end, that idea hit me and I was scared. I was also scared because I had completed the New York city Triathlon in 2008 when it took me eighty-four minutes of floating to finish the swim. Brendan insisted he was a stronger swimmer and he promised he would do everything in his power to help me. We remained in contact prior to my departure to NYC. Each time, Brendan said all the correct words to calm me down. When I arrived at his house two days before the race, Brendan made sure to sit me down to have a heart-to-heart about the swim. He wanted me to be honest about my abilities and fears. Again, he promised to do everything in his power to get me through the swim. As I jumped into the Hudson and realized where I was, I had an anxiety attack, but Brendan yelled at me to remain calm and trust him. I took deep breaths and relaxed. I laid on my back and began kicking and stroking through the water. Brendan kept speaking to me as we moved. Before long, I was tired. I wanted to ask how far we had gone, but I did not want to know either out of fear that we had not gone all that far. As I kept fighting the urge to ask, Brendan shouted out, "You're doing great, buddy. We just crossed 800 meters." Did I hear him correctly? We are halfway home! Suddenly, my arms and legs found new energy. My spirits were lifted and I began to kick and stroke with a purpose once more. We hit 1,000 meters. I felt like we were flying. At one point, I popped my head out of the water and believed that I heard someone shout my name. Brendan then laughed as he informed me that Matt Miller was standing on a bridge screaming his approval and encouragement for me. Brendan's laughter kept getting louder and more pronounced. I was crushing this swim. Then he told me we were just a few strokes away. Someone touched my shoulder and told me "You're done, buddy!" I stood up as Brendan and a race volunteer helped me out of the water. I had done it! Only one leg of the race was complete, but I wanted to stop, hug Brendan, and cry. His belief in me had been a wonderful source of inspiration. His laughter and joy throughout the swim made me so grateful. I cut my swim time down to thirty-seven minutes. Brendan had been a major reason why. We rolled on the bike and pushed the run to finish in a spectacular sprint at the end where I flew away from Brendan causing him to drop the tether on which he held as we ran together. I crossed the finish, but the roar from the crowd was deafening, I did not hear Brendan telling me this so I kept going until I slammed into a cameraman kneeling several feet beyond the finish line. Brendan was the main reason I succeeded in the Hudson and he remains one of the most inspiring individuals in my life to date.

One of the reasons I love Brendan so much is his heart of gold. He is a great man and a great friend who will always do what he can for friends, loved ones, and strangers. That s why I am hoping you will consider donating to his half marathon effort. He is racing a half marathon in which he aims to set a personal record by finishing in under one hour and thirty-five minutes. Brendan is also raising funds to honor his friend, Brian's mother who lost her life to Frontal Temporal Degeneration, a form of Dementia. Please log on to the following site to read more about Brendan's cause, his reason, and how Brian will match your donation dollor for dollar up to $2,500. Please feel free to leave a message of support and to pass this along to others too. I cheer for those with hearts of gold especially when they open their homes and lives to me when I am still a stranger.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dare2Tri Fundraiser

In 2011, Keri Schindler of Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association informed me of a brand new paratriathlon club in the city of Chicago. In fact, at the time, it was the first paratriathlon club in the country to be recognized and sanctioned by USAT, the governing body of triathlons. Keri asked if I wish to join their weekly practices on Thursday afternoon to bike and run. Soon, I learned of several races which the club would race in as a team. I was excited to hear they would participate in triathlons and duathlons. They would also have a relay option for those athletes who did not feel quite strong in tackling all three disciplines on a given day. I was most excited that there were other folks who were joining Keri to start this club which was called Dare2Tri Chicago. Two of the other individuals were accomplished coaches while the fourth person was Melissa Stockwell, a veteran of the Iraq War who lost her leg when a roadside bomb exploded near the vehicle in which she was riding three weeks after Melissa arrived in the Middle East. As a result of the attack, she lost one of her legs. Melissa struggled to adjust, but found strength in the outpouring of strangers from the Wounded Warrior Project. she also found strength in those who believed in her enough to get her to get back in a swimming pool. Melissa loved the pool because while in there, she could be herself and have fun. Before long, she was competing in swim meets. Shortly afterwards, she was trying out this sport called triathlon. In 2010, she qualified for the PC National Championships. Not only did she compete in the NYC Triathlon, but she won her division and competed at Worlds where she proudly carried the American flag down the final stretch on route to being the world champion! Now, I had a chance to be involved in an organization which she co-founded. I jumped at it! The day I raced in my first event with Dare2Tri was so joyous as I met Todd Smith, the man who volunteered to guide me. We had a great time at the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon. It was so moving for me to come face-to-face with Melissa. she is such an inspiring figure. In 2011, Melissa once again qualified for the PC Nationals. She once again won the NYC event. For the second consecutive year, Melissa beat the field to claim the title of world champion. As Melissa prepares to try for a third straight title, Dare2Tri enters its second year of competition. Regular practices will start in May and races will begin in June. Before those take place, Dare2Tri will host a kickoff fundraiser in April. This is a very important event for Dare2Tri as the organization operates strictly based on the money received from donations. The triathletes who sight guide anyone who is blind, the handler for those who have a physical disability, and those who help organize practice or race day activities are all volunteers working together. Dare2Tri has the motto: One inspires many. In order for that one person to inspire, many have to join forces. For those in the Chicago area, please consider attending this fundraiser. For those outside the area, please consider visiting the web site and supporting any way you can. You can donate money or offer encouragement to the Dare2Tri family. You will certainly read more about Keri, Melissa, and Dare2Tri this coming season as I plan to race in several events with this group.

For more information about the kickoff bash or about the group, please visit:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Caroline Gaynor Climbs For National MS

Are you someone who gets inspired frequently? I am. Sure, I see certain actors, writers, athletes, musicians, and politicians who move me. I see people on a daily basis who give me an extra push. They do not do it by speaking to me directly or by saying powerful magical words. They do so by the example they set in the world. One such person is the amazing, talented, and beautiful, Caroline Gaynor. She is an all around tremendous athlete, woman, and friend. Frequent readers to this site have read about some of her ventures such as stair climbing events, cycling races, or Ironman Triathlons where she sight guides different blind and visually impaired women through the 140.6 mile distance. Caroline is simply amazing in every sense of the word! This weekend, she will be climbing the Rockefeller Center while raising money for National Multiple Sclerosis organization. Caroline climbs because she can. Caroline climbs for those who can not. Caroline climbs so that one day, no one will hear the words, "You have MS." Please consider donating to Caroline's fundraising efforts as she will glide up sixty-six steps with the ease of such a gifted athlete and person which she is.