December 2018

Jeff Raz and Diane Wasnak
Jeff Raz performing with Diane (Pino) Wasnak

Dear Friends and Family,

On Sunday, I finished performing in a three-week run of a wonderful circus/dance/music piece called ‘JOY!’; the next night my family lit the full menorah to celebrate the last day of Hanukkah. Some holiday light at the darkest time of the year.

Jeff signing books
At my recent author events at Books Inc. in Alameda and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, I was intrigued and touched by the personal stories that folks shared with me, inspired by our discussion of themes in ‘The Snow Clown’. For example, one man had designed a golf course in Alaska (and then one in Iraq) and another had worked in South Africa right after the end of apartheid.


The Power of Storytelling

In a recent interview with the NY Times, Michelle Obama and Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) talked about the power of storytelling:

Michelle Obama: When I say “go high,” I’m not trying to win the argument. I’m trying to figure out how to understand you and how I can help you understand me.

Tracee Ellis Ross: Knowing other people’s stories is how we connect with them. That’s where the compassion is ignited. If people who don’t know you hate you because of some idea they’ve made up about you, your honest life story is the thing that dismantles the walls between us.

Michelle Obama: (When Barak and I were) sitting at people’s kitchen tables, going to people’s churches and veterans’ community halls…people would start going: “Oh! That’s who you are. I’ve heard all this stuff about you on Fox News, but you’re actually kind of reasonable.”

This idea of storytelling as a key to connection, especially across great cultural and political divides, is central to the Nebraska section of ‘The Snow Clown’. Here’s an edited excerpt that would fit comfortably into Obama and Ross’ conversation:

To break the silence (in a classroom in rural Nebraska), I turned to stories, their stories.

Read the rest of the excerpt here.

I hope you enjoy this short video dedicated to The Joy of Books.