down a road
Acting Theatre Company Member
Jean Cocteau Repertory, NYC
1987 – 1992
I was fortunate (very) to become part of Jean Cocteau Repertory - a permanent off-Broadway acting ensemble in NYC - that performed classical plays in rotating repertory. As company members we were all cast in both large and small roles and did the set changes. Being a company member of such an esteemed theater company as Jean Cocteau Rep for six years gave me much more than acting chops. It gave me how-to-be-a-good-team-member chops and how-to-inspire chops.
Writer, Director, Producer
In the early 1990’s I collaborated with Poet-O in the creation of an off-Broadway show. The 72-year old street poet was by far, the most captivating performer I'd ever met and I wanted him to join me in the one-person-show, "Unanswered Letters: Excerpts from The Jeanne Books" that I premiered in NYC at the Conservatory Theater. Poet-O was written into the show and it was picked up for an extended run at One Dream Theatre and was later invited to participate in the University Settlement’s 'Take Back the Park' multi-stage summer festival.
My friendship with Poet-O did more than produce exciting theatre, it opened me to a "street level" world of people, places and experiences I'd never have had otherwise.
Founder of Realize Arts & Education, Inc.
In the early 1990's Marty Khan of Outward Visions became aware of my work with Poet-O and said what I was doing wasn't just entertaining, it was also "benevolent to society." He guided me through the process of setting up as a 501c(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to utilizing the arts to educate. This opened up possibilities that someone who didn't get a college degree wouldn't ordinarily have had. I was able to go into schools as a Teaching Artist.
Arts Educator / Curriculum Creator
With a not-for-profit to lead with, I was able to go into schools and share with 7th and 8th graders my newfound love of the hero's journey story structure. In the process, those 7th and 8th graders helped me to create after school programs for elementary school kids that facilitated self-exploration, self-trust and self-expression -- just like what they themselves were doing.
RIDE ON : Ages 8-14
Drawing on the work of Joseph Campbell, RIDE ON introduces elementary and middle school students to the structure that underlies the world's stories and myths. It assists students in creating narratives of their own “hero’s journey" and asks them to collaborate to develop a group piece. The group-created piece is then produced and performed for the public.
(Saugerties High, Robert Graves Elementary School, West Hurley, NY & Bulkeley Middle School, Rhinebeck, NY)
Mentor to Girls
The Ruby Books
When the online thing came along I used my own story material (forever in progress) as the basis for an interactive online learning environment for girls. Still using the Hero's Journey story structure to inspire and empower, but now I was geared specifically to girls - inspiring them "to find, shape, and share their great girl voices!"
Just as I "3rd-personed myself" to write stories in The Ruby Books, I took girls through a process of "creating a girl" and setting their girl off on a heroic journey of their own.
A White Girl Finds The Funk
While helping girls to tell THEIR stories, I was working away on my stories. And, as creative projects will do, the story of Ruby's Very Good Thing grew from a graphic novel into a full-fledged screenplay. In the movie version of the story, Ruby is from outer space, here on earth as part of Rescue Mission 'Wake On Up!' She doesn't just find her voice (her funk), she saves the world with it. It's a story the world needs right now, so let's get it up on the big silver screen already!
One girl I mentored, Emily-Anne Rigal, created a YouTube channel that raises teen self-esteem through online videos and social media. WeStopHate gave teenagers the confidence to accept who they are and not be afraid to show it.
Because WSH was so enormously popular -- the 27th Most Subscribed YouTube Nonprofit Channel of all time (with over 1 million video views!) -- it led to a book deal with Penguin Random House.
FLAWD: How To Stop Hating On Yourself, Others, and the Things That Make You Who You Are
2015, Penguin Random House
Emily-Anne Rigal and I used her WSH platform and message to create the book, FLAWD. I didn't just get to write it, I got to illustrate it, too! FLAWD is a guidebook filled with quotes from the teens of the world that contains tips and tricks that help people of all ages to:
"SEE yourself as perfectly imperfect.
TREAT life as playfully as possible.
THINK about what really matters.
EMBRACE all that makes you, YOU.
UNDERSTAND influence and how to use it.
KNOW you can be part of a flawd and powerful transformation."
My H.I.G.H. Story ~ How I Got Here
As a 50-something I'm really interested in understanding the twists and turns that led me to where I am today. As I look specifically at how I ended up being a "successful" pot dealer in both the early 1990's and then again in the mid 2000's, I'm gaining so many insights into myself that I now see the process of telling the truth about my life as an essential creative practice.