Art Strengthens Civic Culture As Well As Individuals

This year, the German government will spend 2.4 billion dollars on the arts. The Ministry of Culture wants to “open spaces for discourse” and strengthen their “valuable culture of democracy.” This morning, on my Medicare birthday, I’m thinking about all the spaces that my 50 years as an artist have opened up for me, how being an artist has supported my mental, emotional and physical health as well as, at times, strengthened our civic … Read More

Advice For Life From Artists

The New York Times asked 40 artists to give some advice to other artists. Some of the quotes resonated deeply with me… “…seek out a mentor: someone who supports you and wants you to achieve your own voice and vision…” Garret Hongo For me it’s been mentors, plural. “…connect with your local community or history and critically examine your own location or dislocation within the country. This will inform what, how and why you … Read More

A Giant Leap of Faith

It was a giant leap of faith to take a two-page document, written with more energy than form by a bunch of teenagers, and use it as the bible for a show that over fifty performers, coaches, directors, designers and technicians would work on for six months. I took that leap of faith last fall and Circus at the End of the World played to packed houses and standing ovations in mid-March. The success … Read More

Odessa is Under Attack and I Have Friends There

If you have Ukrainian or Russian friends, hold them in your hearts as you read the news. Some of them are in danger, all of them have families and all of their families are in some kind of danger. As I write this, Odessa is under attack and two people I love and deeply respect are from Odessa. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 17 of The Secret Life of Clowns that was inspired … Read More

Art Can Connect Us in Times of Disconnection

My gig at the Arc Gallery last Sunday almost got “COVID cancelled” – one of my sons tested positive, we were all quarantined and I needed a negative test on Friday to avoid canceling the Sunday event. It worked out, everyone is healthy and I learned a lot about how art can connect people in this time of disconnection. I wanted my event to relate to the exhibit, “Dollhouse,” and to use techniques from … Read More

Connection Not Perfection

“I was in the middle of a concert…everything was going perfectly…and I was bored out of my mind. That was the moment that I made a fateful decision (to) devote my life to human expression versus human perfection.” – Yo Yo Ma A month ago, I was in a theater watching the amazing director Amy Marie Haven work with a huge cast to stage my play ‘La Sirène‘. The next day, she was packing … Read More

Creating by Listening

Many years ago, I was commissioned to write a play about secondhand smoke. Being completely ignorant of the subject and starting to think that it was an impossible topic for a play, I decided to interview a pulmonologist friend. He was so excited, knowledgeable and entertaining that I used his words and images to finish a first draft of “Lungman and Windpipe’s Excellent Adventure” within a week. This experience of creating a play by … Read More

Big Changes

Eleven years ago, when I got home from Japan after my final tour with Cirque du Soleil, a communications consulting firm invited me to join their small team. Stand & Deliver and I have grown a lot since then and last week I finished saying good-bye to my fifty plus colleagues and dozens of clients as I headed into the next phase of my career. My job as a dad, helping my sons launch … Read More

Joy and Woe are Woven Fine

I had to drive out to Dublin way too early on a recent Sunday morning, taking my older son to his EMT training. Deadheading home, I heard this William Blake quote on the radio: “Joy and woe are woven fine” I turned off the sound so I could feel some joy, the joy of living with my boys-who-are-men, and then grief for the world we are all trying to live in. If joy and … Read More

Gossip is Living History

“Gossip is living history. History is petrified gossip“. – A.O. Scott I love this. Imagine finding a hunk of petrified gossip in your backyard. Here are some more quotes from A.O. Scott’s essay on the author William Maxwell: “Maxwell (is) an unacknowledged forerunner of autofiction, that much-argued-over postmodern style of almost-autobiographical, self-ventriloquizing prose.” I may not love this quote as much. Almost-autobiographical self-ventriloquizing? Does Scott think a ventriloquist is hiding behind a dummy, a … Read More

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