Love Death Circus – Chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3 Pippi Longstocking Willa Woods is hugging the porcelain goddess. Her stomach has long since run out of food to disgorge and her abdominal muscles ache from heaving. “Better than sit-ups,” she says to herself, and it’s true; her abs haven’t been this strong since a brief career as a trapeze artist ended with a nasty fall. That accident was in the exact same theater where she should be right now, setting light … Read More

Love Death Circus – Chapter 2

Quebec Calling Frank finds his phone at the bottom of the duffel bag. He flips it open, ignoring the gauzy pink cloud at his feet. “Hello?” “Bonjour. Am I speaking with Frank Singer?” Relief washes over him – it isn’t his mother. It isn’t Berit. He isn’t an orphan. “Yes, this is Frank.” “Mr. Frank Singer? Allo, my name is Angelique and I am calling from the Cirque du Soleil casting départment.” Someone from … Read More

Love Death Circus – Chapter 1

Early Morning in the Mission A huge pink dress lies over Frank Singer’s right shoulder. The hanger hook digs into the first two fingers of his right hand. It’s raining in San Francisco’s Sunny Mission and the theater is still three blocks away. Frank puts his head down and keeps walking. With every step, a small duffel bag full of juggling clubs bounces against his left hip. His regular clown costume, a plus-sized red … Read More

5 things I wish someone told me when I first became an author

Interview with Chaya Weiner As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Raz. Jeff Raz is an acclaimed author, playwright, stage director and performer (he has starred on Broadway and with Cirque du Soleil as well as a global communications consultant. His first book, The Secret Life of Clowns, was launched at the Smithsonian Institution in … Read More

Reactions – Juggling the Physical and the Emotional

In rehearsal last week, I worked with a brilliant clown on a seemingly simple move – getting her hand ‘stuck’ on a set piece when she tried to step away. “Make sure you do the reaction after the action, not before.” Duh, of course. But it is amazing how many times a clown trip or slap or other moment is ruined because the performer reacts before s/he acts. In clowning, there are two different … Read More

Winter Holidays – Time to Talk

We’re deep into the winter holidays, a time when helpful friends and social pundits are warning us to avoid talking about politics or religion or anything else that might devolve into an argument. Good advice, perhaps, but only talking about safe topics is like only eating mashed potatoes – boring and ultimately unhealthy. What if we could have respectful, exciting, joyful conversations about truly gnarly, nasty, stomach-knotting subjects? I know this is possible and … Read More

Stand and Be Present

A student, I’ll call her Beth, stood facing away from the audience in a theater class I taught last month. She turned, walked downstage and said, “Hello, my name is Beth.” Just that, and my eyes teared up. It was her third try at an exercise I describe in The Secret Life of Clowns: “Let’s start with something basic, the very simplest performance — one human being standing in front of a group of … Read More

What’s Your Secure Base?

“My mama came to visit me in San Quinton every time she had the money for a Greyhound from Bakersfield.” Merle Haggard’s grizzly old face turned soft and teary in Ken Burns’ documentary on country music. Haggard’s mother was his ‘secure base,’ a metaphor that becomes very real in acrobatics, although I find it harder to be an emotional secure base than to hold people standing on my shoulders. George Kohlrieser, psychologist and hostage … Read More

Tricked into Growing

I am all for taking risks, lifelong learning, ‘getting out of your comfort zone’…for my students. For me, I’m pretty comfortable being comfortable. I only get uncomfortable when I’m tricked into it. Like the other day when my friend Tara asked if I would perform in her site specific dance piece set in a bar. I don’t dance and I hate bars so, of course, “no thanks, I’m good.” But she tricked me! When … Read More

On Gender in the Workplace

The participants in my recent webinar for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) on July 2, 2019, “Delving into the Art of Storytelling in a Business Environment,” asked a lot of important questions. I will answer many of them in this series of blog posts. Participant comment: It’s a double-edged sword: Women typically lead family decision-making; as parents, we juggle multiple demands and must show leadership continuously; children and spouses rely on our … Read More

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