Clown, Teacher, Writer, Producer
Theater Studies, English, 1990
Clown, Teacher, Writer, Producer
I’ve cast a wide net as a performer and educator, and I count myself lucky that I have not had to take any work outside my field in over two decades. My field has simply expanded to encompass more and varied expressions of my work as an artist.
I work with the Big Apple Circus Clown Care program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, serving as Supervisor of the Atlanta team (one of a dozen around the country). I oversee the artistic and administrative operations of a team of twelve artists, who make visits to clinics and bedsides year-round. As I said, I cast a wide net: I was a lead puppeteer and head writer for a multi-award-winning distance-learning Spanish-language program produced by GPTV, entitled Salsa; from that, I have continued to work with much of the creative team on a health and wellness program, The OrganWise Guys.
I also have the great good fortune to be affiliated with an International Schools Theatre Association, which runs festivals and training sessions all around the world in the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) curriculum. I have traveled the world – often accompanied by my son – to teach, coach, and advise students from middle school through high school, as well as drama teachers.
My biggest focus as a creative artist these days is as the creator and executive producer of Trickster’s Travels – a web-based puppet show for family audiences, which highlights the great commonality of stories around the world by telling them through the voice and viewpoint of the one, the only, the archetypal Trickster.
Highlights at Emory
My work at Theater Emory (and the student organizations I was in) was absolutely instrumental in forming and fostering my understanding of theater as a means and tool for political and social awareness and change. The department was very small at the time that I was an undergrad, and we had a great many opportunities to learn by doing; we as students were encouraged to push our boundaries and experiment, exploring the work and ideas of great theorists and practitioners such as Grotowski, Artaud, Brecht, Beckett. We also were encouraged to use the power of theater on campus at large, and performed guerilla theater on the quad at the height of the Central American crisis in American foreign policy.
My colleagues and I were students at a time of great transition both in the department and at Theater Emory. What we found and created was a tight-knit group of mutually supportive young artists, and we learned that no matter the tumult that was happening around us, we still enjoyed the support of dedicated teachers and mentors ready and eager to feed us and our hunger.
So much of what I do, to this day, still draws on the skills and tools I acquired at Emory, that I think it’s hard to say how I’ve applied them outside theater – I’m still busy applying them within my work as a performer.
Take the time now to put your energy into experimenting, pushing yourself beyond what you thought was possible, or even reasonable. You may never have the opportunity again in your adult life to pursue truly experimental modes of expression in the arts – take advantage of the time and freedom you have now.
Also, take at least one marketing course, maybe even consider minoring in business administration. Not as a fallback (God knows I despise those), but because the simple fact is, once you get out of school, 95% of your time will be spent off-stage, looking for work, and working on your career, not at your career. Learn how to run your acting career as a business – you are your own commodity, and your own best sales force. Don’t wait for the phone to ring, with someone asking you to interpret a particular role. Build your network of friends, colleagues, collaborators, and co-conspirators, and create, create create!
All creative endeavor consists in asking two questions, alternately, in a never-ending loop: “What if?” and “Why Not?”