24 May, 2023

Keynote Speech for The Mancini Awards, 2023

I stand before you this evening, in awe of the distinguished and hard-earned celebration each and every single one of you is reveling tonight.

Look at you! You are today’s young artists, and the human beings who will both shape and inherit the world we all share.  

Breathe in this moment, and know that more glorious moments like it— on stage and off— are ahead for you. Tonight, my friends, you are already living the dream. No matter what level of artistic professionalism you pursue, your passion for live performance, communal story-telling, the impact art has on individual and community, and the internal discipline and rigor required to execute art— have all sparked within you, and that spark is now lit eternity.  

I now ask each of you— adults included to take a moment, travel back in time, and remember the very first moments when your interest in your chosen field, hobby, interest or profession was first ignited. What is your WHY?

I am Alexandra Silber — and I am a Broadway and West end actor, singer and performing artist. I am also a concert artist, twice-published author and educator. But before I was any of those things, I was a gifted, deep and yearning artistic kid just like you.

Growing up outside Detroit, Michigan, my WHY for storytelling began young, when as an only child with a loving father fighting cancer, I was filled with unfathomable feelings and questions for a nine year old. I couldn’t bring those to my peers! They were nine! But I could “discuss” the depths of human experience with art. I could ask Tolstoy about love, Steinbeck about life. I could ask the musical Cabaret about prejudice, and Fiddler on the Roof about my Jewish identity. I could “discuss” fear with The Smashing Pumpkins, and grief with opera’s great heroines. I could ask theatre, music, books, visual art and poetry— art that belongs to us all— about the things I had no language for.

And when the time came for my father to leave this world, art was there to hold me—and everything I felt— too.  The Arts change minds, heal hearts, connect us to one another, and shape our collective culture. The Arts serve. That is my why. The answer to why I make art is because art held nine year old me— gave me language I lacked, and a place to express thoughts, feelings and realities on a stage when the real world was often too frightening a place.

The world is certainly no less frightening a place than it was when I was your age, but seeing you all tonight: I am filled with hope that the future is beautiful, and the future is bright.

* * *

Before I leave you tonight, I want to share TEN hard-earned truths I’ve learned along the way as an artistic human being. I offer these observations to guide you as you go forward, enabling you to empower yourselves, so that when the challenges of an artistic life catapult and hurl themselves straight into your heart – which they will do, repeatedly – you will have some of these tidbits of wisdom at your disposal to center you so that your SOUL will not be derailed, and, no matter the challenge before you, you can still summon the power to transform yourselves, others, and, indeed,  the world.

1. Happiness is not a train station

     On the great train ride that is Life Itself, we keep pulling into stations we expect, do not expect, and sometimes, loathe. Some of these are expected, some cannot be avoided, and some we’d do anything to avoid if we could.

     Have you yourself ever thought "Once I [get the leading role/make X much money/get married/move to Europe/lose 20 pounds] MY LIFE WILL BE PERFECT!"
Me too.

But one of life’s great truths is that you never pull in to the train stations of “Contentment,” “Happiness,” or “Success.” THERE IS no train station with a sign that says “WELCOME TO MADE IT!” Those stations are like Brigadoon: sure, you’ve heard of it, and everyone talks about it and wants to get there, but no one has ever really seen it. Why? Because it doesn’t exist.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, right here, right now, in this single, solitary, monumental moment in your life– is to decide, without apology, to commit to the JOURNEY, and not to the outcome. The outcome will almost always fall short of your expectations, and if you’re chasing that elusive, often deceptive goal, you’re in for a very tough road, for there will always be that one note that could have soared more freely, the one line reading that could have been just that much more truthful.

     So when I say “happiness is not a train station” I mean: there is no definitive moment where you do or do not “arrive” or “make it.”

As an artist, you will never arrive at a fixed destination. THIS is the glory and the reward of striving to master your craft, and being tireless in your pursuit of something greater than yourself.

2. DONE is better than PERFECT.

     Just do the thing.
Then finish it.
Press send.
It will never be perfect.
So do it!
Because done is better than perfect. :)

3. Remember the difference between DISCOMFORT and true PAIN.

Pain is your body and mind’s alert system that something is dangerously wrong and must immediately be dealt with. 

Discomfort is not dangerous: it is the birthplace of all growth and expansion, and cutting DISCOMFORT off (or misunderstanding / mislabeling it) hinders all possibility for expansion and evolution.
Knowing the difference between DISCOMFORT and PAIN, is what maturity is all about.

4. Not choosing is also a choice.
Remember that.

5. The artistic work never ends.

When things become overwhelming – which they will—I have found that the way back to your center is simply to RETURN TO THE WORK. Return to your skills, techniques and love of the art form. 

Whether you’re overwhelmed by success or failure, abundance or famine—get to work. It is there where you will find solace and truth.

Trust that you will find your way again via the music, the poetry, the colors, the movement. All art asks is that we show up, fully present as you did when you first discovered the magic. Bring that innocent, childlike sense of wonder to your craft, and always be willing to be a beginner. It will continually teach you how to be present, how to be alive, and how to let go.

6. It is not what happens to us, it is how WE CHOOSE TO RESPOND.

     People ask me really smart questions all the time.
Questions like:
    “How do you deal with being afraid of failure?”
    “How do you not worry about being rejected?”

I’m aware that this is a sort of irritating answer but: I deal with fear, worry, sadness and anger by actually dealing with fear, worry, sadness and anger.

We must try our darnedest not to identify AS the emotions, but to accept, incorporate, built grit, resilience; to learn what we can, and move forward in the face of The Big Feels.

In short: we can’t always choose what happens, but we can chose our response, and our actions in the face of life’s inevitable realities.

7. Courtesy costs nothing.
Even if you don't have pockets full of money— a smile, a thank you, and pleasantry— courtesy is a gift you can give every day.


8. Success isn’t about what you do, it’s about how you FEEL about what you do.

9.  “Comparison is the thief of joy”
Theodore Roosevelt — our 26th President said this. Remember that you are singular, and on your very own path that proceeds at its particular melody and tempo.

The world needs YOU. It is yearning, starving, dying for YOU and YOUR singular healing offer of service through your Art. We need YOU so that we never lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together and that we are all deserving of a life that overflows with immense possibility, improbable beauty and relentless truth. Your singular vision, experience, talent and perspective of existence thus, cannot be compared.

Do not let comparison to others steal the joy of your current reality. Teddy Roosevelt was more than a great orator, explorer, and environmentalist… he was also so correct about comparison. (He also had a very fetching mustache.)

10. Art is a SERVICE industry
Art CAN  be glittery, but you haven’t signed up for a life of glory, adulation and fame. (although that MIGHT come)

The truth is, you have signed up for a life of SERVICE by going into the Arts. And the life-altering results of that service in other people’s lives will NEVER disappear as fame unquestionably will.

You are here to serve the words, the music, the author, the chord progression, the audience, the characters you play that cannot speak or breathe or LIVE without you! But above all, you are here to serve humanity.

You are now servants to the ear that needs melodic solace,
     and the eye that needs the consolation of beauty.
          Servants to the mind that needs inquiry, 

               to the heart that needs invitation to flight or silent understanding,
and to the soul that needs safe landing, or enlightenment.

You are a steward to the blocked observer who needs to feel that vital, electric pulse of life that eludes them. 

You are a vessel to the angry one who needs a protected place to release their rage.
To each of them you will reach out, and generously invite them to soar and to thrive, because we are called to share this thing called Art.

You are also serving one other thing: your own truth. You are serving the relentless, passionate, fevered force within you that longs to grow and expand and feel and connect and create; that part of you that craves a way to express raw elation and passion, and to make manifest hard-core blissful rapture and fun.

That’s why “making it” is, in the end, utterly insignificant. LIVING it, BREATHING it, SERVING it … that’s where your joy lives.

Finally— BONUS lighting-round / hot tips: 11, 12, 13:
    - Dont Wash Wool.
    - Moisturize (and don’t forget your neck)
    - And believe me, I know what I’m talking about here: NOTHING staying in Vegas.

What an honor it is to share in this evening with you. Savor the moment then fly out of this building, armed with the knowledge that YOU make a difference, that your art is NECESSARY, and that the world is eagerly awaiting to hear what YOU have to say.

I look forward to working with every single one of you— 

See you at rehearsal.

13 March, 2023

I wanna talk about this hug with Samantha...


I want to talk about this hug with Samantha Masssell...

Playing Tzeitel in the 2015-16 production of Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway was one of the best and hardest 16 months of my life. While the public part of me soared in such a gorgeous production and beloved role on stage, off stage I was battling with truly debilitating severe ulcerative colitis daily.

I have a lot of people to thank for keeping me afloat and alive— my “Helens,” (the beloved wig room and creators of "the Cutest Pregnant Woman on Broadway!") my Hub Adam Kantor, The “Pineapples,” (a handful of the 30-somethings who were beyond there for me), but the majority of the agony happened in the dressing room I shared with Samantha—our beloved Dressing Room 51.

I am so unspeakably grateful that those health struggles are behind me now… it’s been quite the road to recovery.
But what forever remains is the memories of an incredible 26-year-old young woman who—with no training, and who never signed up to share space with a very sick person—bore witness to it ALL.
And even when I was very hard to love and be with, Sam stuck by me. We cried. We laughed (man how we laughed). We “kept it at a 10.” She listened. She saw. All of it.
Sam and I don’t have sisters in real life.
But the further away that experience gets, the more remarkable that incredibly young and remarkable Samantha seems to me, and the more truly sisterly her devotion.
In the business of show, there are a lot of glittering highs. A lot of unspeakable lows. But what remains at the end of the day is the friendships—more like family than could ever possibly be articulated.
So. Hug your friends. Tell them what they mean. We have such precious, fleeting, fragile days here on earth.

That’s it.
I just wanted to tell you all.
I love you, Doo Doo. X
📸: James T Murray (thank you SO much)

06 November, 2022

Alec's Debut

Four years ago exactly I met Alec Silver on the first day of rehearsal at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. I introduced myself with a shocked-but-casual “Hey Alec Silver I’m Al SILBER… we have the same name!” He then proceeded to astonish me in the first table read. I knew he’d go far.  But I had NO idea how far we’d go together.

On Nov 6, 2018 sharing a night like this with Alec Silver would never have crossed my mind.
Last night, after a little over three years in New York City (two-and-a-half of which were a worldwide pandemic) Alec made his Off Broadway and New York acting debut in the profoundly moving GOOD ENEMY at Audible's Theater at Minetta Lane. 

The play by Yilong Liu is gorgeous triumph of generational trauma and what we "owe" our family. It is directed by Alec’s greatest artistic advocate Chay Yew, is a triumph— superbly cast, acted, designed and executed by all involved.
Alec’s work was spellbinding. So skilled. Deeply observed and wildly out of his “type.” I barely recognized him as Dave and was equally if not more astonished by his work as I was by his Francis Flute on Nov 6, four years ago.
But what floored me, was the people that showed up to celebrate Alec in this moment. Friends, colleagues and Chosen Family all collected over the last four years that showed up in a ten-strong cheering section, evidence that lives worth living are BUILT— day by day, with every conversation, connection, good work done, generosity shared and promise delivered. 

 My Alec, four years to the day of being dazzled by you I am dazzled not only by your work, but by the life you have so courageously manifested. I am in awe. What an honor to celebrate you in this moment.
Thank you to Adrienne and Alex Balducci, Katie Spelman, Etai Benson, Alexandra Socha, Tony Cloer, Carman Lacivita, Elle Rigg, and Alley Scott  for being a part of *The Silver Squad.* 

📸: @liachangphotography — genius.

04 November, 2022

Escape from Cleveland: A Melodrama

On November 4, 2022, five character actors drove to the airport having recently completed a week-long workshop at the Cleveland Playhouse of Ken Ludwig's latest play, Moriarty: a Sherlock Holmes Mystery. The week had been splendid. A group of hilarious, intelligent Broadway veterans gathered together to exchange ideas, perfect a play with one of the most collaborative playwrights in the world; plus shared several delicious meals, experiences and stories after rehearsal. 

What a week working (laughing--good GAWD the laughing) at Cleveland Playhouse with great friends and insanely gifted artists—directed by Mark Browkaw—working on a reading of Ken Ludwig's latest— MORIARTY giving 12 or so comic tertiary or five, and Irene Adler to old pal Santino Fontana's Sherlock Holmes. 

All in all: the week was a great success. Behold our happiness post reading: 

cast + creatives of the pre-production of "Moriarty" at Cleveland Playhouse

But THEN! Then: the following morning, the cast of five-- a merry band of players-- all headed to the airport to catch the 12:15 Delta flight from Cleveland to LaGuardia. And that, my friends, is where the plot thickened...

But as if daily laughs and nightly meals weren’t enough, there’s more. All 5 actors arrived at the airport Friday morning to learn our flight to NYC was CANCELLED by Delta.
So instead of moping, we made lemonade outta lemons, rented an SUV and? 5 CHARACTER ACTORS DROVE FROM CLEVELAND TO NYC FOR AN IMPROMPTU ROAD TRIP!
We didn’t turn the radio on once, because we were talking and laughing and getting real and laughing so much. Thank you Ken Ludwig and Cleveland Playhouse for bringing us together. And thank you Santino, Andy Groteluschen, Pun Bandhu and Jill Abramowitz for the forever-memory—this gig was one for the BOOKS.

PS) the whole road trip is a highlight in my “stories” titled “ESCAPE FROM CLEVELAND!” About 5 mins. Worth it. 

19 October, 2022

"Honk if You Agree"

 Honk If You Agree

— On October 8, 2022 Kanye West tweeted to his 30 million followers “I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.” The following Saturday, members of a White Supremacist hate group stood on an overpass above the 405 Freeway in California, performing Nazi salutes behind a banner that read "Kanye was right about the Jews. Honk if you agree.”

Just as an ancient house, demolished
    liberates the vermin
    so we see them now
    in all their flagrance
    and undisguised monstrosity.

Honk if you agree.

Many rats
    are killed in falling mansions
    but some find other houses.  

Hate—it turns out— is not dark.
It blazes with the cruelest light
and rings to petulant music—
    the rage of car horns on the highway.
    the ear-splitting silence of indifference.

Hate is born with you
    it howls in your first howl.
Impatient loathing
    coiled behind our tongues like a python.
This hate is ancient.  
And my People’s pain is insignificant, some say.
Our victim card, expired
Our terror, irrelevant.

So I shall exit the 405 for today—
Knowing it is a road I cannot ignore.
I shall without a doubt read its signs again
and again
and drive across its bloodied highways.

But tonight is Friday
so I exit to light candles
    that pierce into this darkness.
I shall be a good ancestor—
one that paves better highways for the generations yet to come.

To see with clarity
but also with hope
For hath I not eyes?

Honk if you agree.

30 September, 2022

 "The Day Beauty Divorced Meaning" by Leslie Harrison

Their friends looked shocked—said not
, said how sad. The trees carried on
with their treeish lives—stately except when
they shed their silly dandruff of birds. And
the ocean did what oceans mostly do—
suspended almost everything, dropped one
small ship, or two. The day beauty divorced
meaning, someone picked a flower, a fight,
a flight. Someone got on a boat.
A closet lost its suitcases. Someone
was snowed in, someone else on. The sun
went down and all it was, was night. 

30 August, 2022

Multiple layers of freedom and celebration


End of Summer…

Sure sure, this photo is a thirst trap (and I’m 39 so that’s already a feminist STATEMENT) but very VERY real talk: I have spent so much of my life in the depths of sorrow, grief, and self-blame; truly loathing this one and only body of mine, missing out on irreplaceable experiences just to avoid being physically observed.

Then the *moment* I meaningfully healed that disordered part of my psyche? My body was hit with a ulcerative colitis — a debilitating disease that robbed me of my life force. Thus the work began all over again…

I am so relieved and proud to say that after 20 years of all kinds of adversities, I am healed mentally, and cured physically.

It was a war.

But I look back upon it and acknowledge that I faced it like a soldier.

So sure sure— this thirsty photo might appear lame on the surface, but it represents multiple layers of freedom and celebration.

I purchased this swimsuit last spring from an ostomy website so that I could swim in the last few weeks of my bag-life. But I KEPT it because
      1. It’s hella cute and
      2. It reminds me that being fully alive is truly worth fighting for.

Fight on, fellow warriors.

03 June, 2022

Ask Al: The Energy Behind the Decision

a little perspective
Dear Al, 

I have a career-related question and would love some advice: 

I just got re-offered my national tour contract. I am two years in to said contract, in a leading role. I had previously said no to year three of the tour, but now I’m thinking of returning because I love the production, the role, and performing— especially post pandemic.

It just feels potentially foolish "career-wise—" am I robbing myself of pursuing new opportunities? Am I pigeon-holing myself into this tour and role and not allowing myself to try new things? I wonder all of these, but also feel this new contract is a gift from the heavens after everything the performing arts world has been through. Am I looking a gift horse in the mouth? 

I would love to know your thoughts.



A few thoughts on this, points of various “camera zooms”

1. Big picture:

I think often we as actors—particularly female actors— feel that we are in a position of being PAWNS. Meaning, that we have very little power to choose our path with a lot of AGENCY. The truth is, on some level that’s true. Not all of us are Emma Stone.

Thus we fall into... 

2. Lack Mindset. 

Because Opportunities don’t come along as often as we’d design, we perceive ourselves to somehow be in deficit, and it can perpetuate a “Lack Mindset.”

The lack mindset sounds like the inner monologue of “NEVER ENOUGH”— (I’m never successful enough, thin enough, good enough, rich enough ...) And when we make decisions from the place of lack, we operate from a place of survival--a place of very-real desperation because we feel our livelihoods are actually on the line.

But the Lack Mindset? Is a GIANT LIAR.
It is crucial that you don’t make this choice from a Lack mindset, or dis-empowered female actor “mental space” because


3. There is no right or wrong decision here 

— EITHER will effect your life and future with likely equally worthy experiences and momentum—
But making any decision out of FEAR or LACK? I promise you will lead to some kind of deep regret. (I’ve made this mistake a few notable times...)

What I mean by it being a neutral decision is this:

  • You will return and continue on an awesome national tour to play a truly rewarding role in (maybe?) less exhilarating cities.
  • You might be a little bored sometimes but, whatever!
  • You’ll stash money away.
  • You’ll be employed an an actor IN THESE INSANE TIMES
  • and finish your Tour story on your terms.


  • You leave the tour
  • and grab the momentum of a re-energized show-business in NY or LA
  • And roll the dice! Taking a chance at your next big break!
  • Meet new people, make new connections.
  • It might yield “nothing” or it might change your life. Only giving yourself a chance will tell.
  • This choice gives yourself a shot to super charge growth and expansion beyond your pre-pandemic self....

Neither is wrong. Both have their pros and cons.

4. Final Point:


It’s not about the choice.
It’s about the energy behind the choice.
And if there is any whiff of fear inside that energy? Run the other way.
In the end you won’t regret it. 

04 May, 2022

A Very Personal Statement on Roe v. Wade

My name is Alexandra Silber.
And a legal right to safe abortions—as safe and accessible healthcare— is a very personal issue for me.

Now it is not just personal to me because I have a uterus, identify as a woman and am currently in child bearing years. It is not just because I support all oppressed people, everywhere.

But it is because in 2001, at the age of  18 — I had on abortion in the state of Michigan. I had become pregnant against many birth-control odds, with a committed, and incredibly loving partner I was with throughout high school through college.

This termination took place just 7 weeks after my father had died of cancer, at an incredibly precarious time in my life and the state of the world. Not one human—including if not especially the unborn—would have benefited from that birth taking place. Despite doing “so much right” in the safe sex department, the birth would have destroyed the lives of many, including my own.

Do you wanna ask me what it feels like to be a statistic?
Do you want to hand me a religious, political, or reductive high and mighty take on an 18 year old grieving girl’s  humanity?

You wouldn’t be the first.
To assume, accuse, or to call me a murderer to my face.

If Roe V Wade is overturned the incredibly correct choice for me, my partner, the unborn and both our families, that I made in 2001 at the age of *18* would be—according to polling data—an utterly illegal and criminally punishable act in the state of Michigan. If I had survived an “underground” procedure, I’d be imprisoned for it.

I am a white-passing person with on again off again access to decent American healthcare. In 2001, I had friends and connections that might have funded my ability to fly to another state to have the procedure done safely and legally. But the MAJORITY of Americans are not in that position. Abortion will never stop happening, it will stop happening safely. More people will be impoverished, hungry, disenfranchised, and of course DEAD because the government is threatening to make a decision that has held as “precedent” for 50 years.

I am currently 38 years old. I’m a “successful” self employed Millennial whose generation has been struck down a few times by the 2008 recession, the 2020 pandemic—my generation isn’t lazy or irresponsible, irrevocably woke or lacking in a concept of hard work. I now possess the maturity and wherewithal to raise a child— but I STILL don’t feel I dependably have the means to properly provide for that child is so precarious a country. But above all— NO ONE should ever have to be pregnant who does not want to be pregnant.

Our culture has hated and oppressed women since the dawn of time.
This is an attack on women. Yes.
But in a broader sense it is an attack on any human being who is not a white, Christian, cis-gendered male in a typical nuclear family Model.

I am angry. And I am terrified.
And if you are too — I’m with you.

I do not publicly talk about this because I’ve always considered the decision and chapter to be private, and honestly I’ve felt extraordinary terror about sharing this information for the violence it might —as HAS— inflicted upon me when it is brought up. But privacy doesn’t exist in a country where the government is inside our bodies.

Perhaps in sharing this, perhaps in giving a human face to what for many feels like a theoretical issue, Someone out there might PAUSE, think, feel, and acknowledge that I am someone’s daughter, sister, aunt, friend, colleague and neighbor. I’m a person you might not think this issue has affected, but it has. Profoundly. I am you. I am your loved one.  And it is hard to hate up-close.

Take a look at me:
I could be someone you know.
I am only here today making any kind of difference because I was able to make a choice SAFELY and therefore did not die or end up in prison for making a medical decision about my own body.

I am here today doing everything in my power to make the world a better place because the life I chose was the only life I COULD choose.

March. Write. Call. Donate.
And for the sake of all the women and womb-having siblings you care about: vote.

Thank you.

24 March, 2022

Endurance is Universal

Have you been to rock bottom? No shame, fellow rock-bottom-visitors; I’ve been there! But I want to put forth a not-always-meme-able idea: that the un-nuanced glorification of an individual’s capacity to endure isn’t always productive. 

1. It doesn’t allow for the truth, ugliness and raw humanity of intense frustration, sorrow, frustration, grief, despair. We must feel free to experience all the states life has to offer.
2. We all have this capacity-not JUST a “special few.” Stories that glorify a singular protagonist (Hulu’s version of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,” for instance) often subliminally express that our protagonist is NOT an Everyman—but rather that THIS protagonist is special— they and they ALONE possess and extraordinary capacity to be tested and prevail. It sells us a false narrative that THAT special human being is so unique; that THEY ALONE can face extraordinary hardship, but not EVERYONE. “You want to thrive? No. You have to be special. You have to be chosen,” this Narrative dictates. But how do we know that? Short answer: we do not.

There is a Yiddish saying: “When we must, we can.” Ostensibly, does this saying mean that we never know what we are capable of until we are asked to face The Unknown? Should we be generous and expansive in our understanding of ALL that could mean? I welcome us to be.

Human beings have great capacity. All of them. Not just a “special few.” Yet not every human being will make the same gigantic leaps as another, because they won’t have the same adversities thrust upon them, or identical stakes, circumstances, supporters, and wherewithal to make those leaps in those moments. 

As the war in Ukraine approaches it's second month, we are reminded of humanity at its lowest and at its very finest. The images are shattering, but also gobsmacking in the shimmering humanity.
All evidence that our human capacity to endure is universal. The level to which we ride and fall? That is unique to us. And thus, we are not to judge.

So whether you are hanging out at rock bottom, soaring to new heights, languishing in purgatory or somewhere in between— take heart. I see you. I believe in you. Triumph looks different on everyone. You’ve got this.

Greetings from The Bottom


09 March, 2022

Knowing when to leave...

For the last 18 months I have been taking an online poetry class over Zoom. Oh, how I loved it! It was a place of extraordinary artistic respite for me, a place where I did not have to be a professional artist, where I was unknown to my fellow classmates, and could safely learn and grow in the company of strangers. It was an appointment I treasured keeping week after week. I kept it when I traveled, and even when I was working in London (tuning in from 10pm- 1am!). Class is taught by a celebrated poet and teacher who I have become friends with online and off. 

It was a truly joyous space for a long time. 

The Class is filled with a grab bag of individuals who all came together for the shared joy of creating, loving words, and discussion of the human experience as analyzed through text. It was the part of being an actor I missed the most -- the "table work;" the part where the company sits around the table and discusses in rigorous detail the depths of the human experience, as crystalized through language, relationship and sociology. I think this need to discuss our humanity is what sends millions of people who are not "formal artists" in any way to spiritual texts-- for all branches of spirituality and theistic text is merely another lens through which we can know ourselves. Does it matter if the story is about Isaac, Shiva, the Knight of Swords, Mohammad or Othello?  

I've made some wonderful connections in class too-- some individuals I may never meet in real life, and some I have already met. People that have really beautifully challenged me to grow, have been critical of my points of view, and of my work in tremendously productive ways. People that have affirmed my humanity, have empathized, and held me in tough moments as I shared slivers of my life through the poems I brought in, in the feedback I offered, and the private messages exchanged through the Zoom chat (the 21st century version of passing notes in class). Some of these classmates have become very real friends-- of all shapes, colors, sizes, geographic locations and walks of life. I am so grateful to have crossed paths with these people, and I hope they know who they are. 

But my time in poetry class has come to an end. 

And... I am devastated. The intensity of the emotions I am experiencing at the loss of this once safe space stuns me. I cannot even conceive of why it aches as much as it does. But it does. I have shed tears, and exhausted the pages of my journal, and finally come to the decision to step away from the beautiful space that was, acknowledging that the space has changed, the world around us has changed, and the digital portal to an oasis of language and humanity is longer what I remember, recognize, or require.

There is no need to discuss what happened in detail, because it doesn't really matter. I wanted to share this experience though because I often think we confuse "giving up" with "surrender." For many weeks I wondered if leaving the increasingly toxic environment would make me a "quitter," would insinuate that I wasn't "tough enough" or "emotionally strong" or that I was "too sensitive" or "couldn't take critique."

I rumbled with the decision to moonwalk out of class-- was I being a "weenie?" But logic tells me that to suggest these is preposterous. 1. Who could possibly suggest that having too much sensitivity for a poetry class is a bad thing? 2. To have the audacity to suggest I cannot accept critical commentary on my artistic work (a piece of advice no one could even possibly contemplate offering to a professional actor of 16 years, and a twice-published author with any degree of seriousness! Please: I am alllllmost immune to artistic criticism at this point!) But artistic criticism is not what this exit is about...

Week by week, this particular group of individuals came to critique my humanity more and more acutely, with ever-increasing personal remarks that were simply inappropriate.  No boundaries. No consequences.

I came to class to have my artwork assessed.  Not my humanity judged

So. Farewell, poetry class. And from the bottom of my heart: thank you so much for all you gave me. But a lady always knows when to leave the party... and it is time to gather my things and exit with grace.


Dear readers, in my time here on earth I have come to learn that there is GIVING UP and there is SURRENDER. I have written about this before, but in brief:

- Giving up is a collapsed posture; I picture the human form in the fetal position, inward, downward and in a self-protective stance. 

- Surrender is its opposite; I picture a human form wide open-- palms up and out, eye closed but trusting, chest, heart, legs wide and available to possibility.

I write this simply to share and to connect: if you have ever felt the loss of a community, however small, however seemingly insignificant, you are not alone. 

Surrender, dear readers. And onward: with courage and integrity. 

31 January, 2022

I don’t know who to be online anymore…

• Shall I swipe on a filter and attempt to commiserate?

• Shall I slap on a bold lip and pretend this isn’t a profoundly difficult time to be semi-alive?
• Shall I risk over-sharing and/or TMI with a post of me without concealer/ at the doctor’s office/ or after another setback?
• [this is no brainer, but] More Tati pics?
• Who am I if I’m not posting from the dressing room / telling you I’m acting / writing / Jewish / married / in __ country / have-now-don’t-have colitis? / got a haircut?
Who are any of us?
We are so much dust.
And we are stardust.
We contain multitudes.

For all of us, “ONLINE” is a portal to another world—for better and for worse, and I don’t know who “avatar Al” is anymore. I don’t know who to be, what I should be. I have no clue what a human brand is and if humans should have one. I love being a beacon of information, buoying, and connection—and then again, sometimes I don’t.
Maybe I never understood how to *present* on here in the first place and the cracks are starting to show only now… I don’t know. And I’m okay with not knowing.
We all long to be unarmored, unabashed, truly seen.
In 2022 it is hard to be online.
It is also hard to be in the real world.
We might be “okay” and nothing might be “wrong,” but I challenge you to find anyone fully “okay” as we march around this confused and aching planet.
So here I am, lifting up my weary, dirt-soaked eyes to stare into yours say “if you are face down in the middle of the road—you’re not alone. I’m okay-but-not-okay TOO. And I struggle to share just how or why. And now of you’ll excuse me I have more dirt to eat…”
I see you.
All my love, from my dirt pile to yours,



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