It’s been difficult to write a newsletter these past few weeks. I put my hands on the computer keys and my thoughts turn to the devastating disasters all around: earthquakes, hurricanes (including one named Irma), mass shooting in Las Vegas, and now wildfires in Northern California. As I've breathed the smoky air and touched the fine ash, I think of the pain and untold losses of tens of thousands of displaced folks. Among the most vulnerable: immigrant communities, backbone of the winery and tourism industries in California’s beautiful wine region. They work so hard and have so little, and are so hard hit.
Please give generously to help folks affected by the wildfires and continue supporting Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Mexico.
Last Show of 2017 at The SF Marsh Theater
My last show this year is part of The Marsh Rising Series, described in the Marsh website https://themarsh.org/rising/rising/ as “One-Night-Only performances of rising talent at The Marsh San Francisco. Marsh Rising presents works in progress that may be ready for an extended run.”
YES, I am super excited about this show on Wednesday, November 15th 7:30 pm. Filling the house is important, so please come. If you saw my play last year at Ross Valley Players, you'll see a very different show. And if you saw an excerpt of my show sometime this year at Tell It On Tuesday in Berkeley or Solo Sundays in San Francisco, come catch the rest of the story. My goal is to get an extended run at The Marsh sometime next year.
Thanks to your warm reception and strong attendance, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? earned a Best of 2017 SF Fringe Award. While I would be thrilled to see you again at my last show this year, I totally understand that you have plenty of other great things to do with your valuable time. PLEASE tell your friends and encourage them to attend. I’m offering a money-back guarantee to anyone who attends: don't like it get your money back.
I'm happy to share some of the wonderful audience reviews posted at the SF Fringe website: http://www.theexit.org/reviews/why-r/. I loved reading each and every one of them. What’s not to love about these!!
I’ve had the opportunity to follow the evolution of this play and the growth of its author/star, Irma Herrera. The messages are powerful and thought-provoking and the well-placed humor makes it a wonderfully entertaining experience. I know the play will be different each time it’s performed and look forward to every new performance.
Go see Irma’s heartfelt, comical, lushly-ethnic one-woman personal journey about our American experience that transcends race, age, geography. She made me LOL, cry, smile, and grimace with her stories that really hit home in today’s reality.
Poignant and moving; turning angst and life experience into humor – Irma’s one-woman show was Laugh Out Loud – the complete package. The audience participation made us a part of her story. Her accents were flawless. Speaking of racism and exclusion to the inclusive SF Fringe crowd is truly preaching to the choir, but to a choir that may not have experienced it viscerally as she has. My husband (the computer science geek) had tears in his eyes for most of her show.
Her messages are important – on the level of Southern Poverty Law Center – Morris Dees – you would love this show. We thought of Sonia Sotomayor. In a world of increasing hate, Irma gives us a mirror but one we can digest. This is how history should be taught in school. This is how kids could learn tolerance. All that said, it’s pure entertainment.
Thanks Rena, Ron, and Jayah and all y’all who wrote kind and thoughtful reviews.
How I Got Into Solo Performance
I’m often asked how I went from being a lawyer to playwright and solo performer. The answer lies at The Marsh. When I left my job as Executive Director at Equal Rights Advocates, my plan was to take a year off to travel and take some classes and revaluate where I wanted to go with my career. One of the things I wanted to do that year was to get back to a novel I had started three decades ago.
I had a great year of travel (including my trip to Copenhagen where I discovered my namesake store). And then by happenstance I returned back to the paid labor force with a half-time job at a non-profit journalism organization, New America Media, co-directing a project working with journalists around the country who were writing about women immigrants in the United States. I was at that job for almost three years and after leaving decided to devote my energies full-time to writing and community service. But I just couldn't wrap my head around that novel.
I told a friend that my creativity had gone out the window and she encouraged me to join her for a 10-week Sunday class at The Marsh. The teacher, she said, has an incredible talent for helping people find and shape their stories. That teacher is David Ford, considered the Dean of Solo Performance. I'd often come to class ranting about some injustice or another and David (and classmate feedback) would help shape that rant into a scene that later became part of a larger story, and so my play was developed in bits and pieces and continues evolving to this day. A truly amazing teacher, David Ford helped me find the stories that became my solo show and he also directed my original play titled Tell Me Your Name.
Diane Barnes is the friend who told me about David Ford's class so she was the gateway to my new career as a solo performer. Hopefully I can follow in her footsteps. Her show, My Stroke of Luck, opens for an extended run at the Marsh next month, tickets and more info at: https://themarsh.org/my_stroke_of_luck/diane-barnes/ I've seen the evolution of this play over the past three years and recently saw it performed at the United Solo Festival in NYC. It gets better and better and gets great reviews: " My Stroke of Luck is more than a story about a doctor who has a stroke and her path to recovery. It’s a story about identity, being a single mom of a special needs child, being a doctor who becomes a patient, having brilliance reduced to a handicap, courage, loss, pain, and ultimate triumph. It’s a masterful performance by a very talented woman who has truly found her voice.”
Thanks to the storytelling classes at The Marsh, I found that I loved telling my stories out loud. First, of course they have to get on the page, but much of the energy from the stories comes from sharing them with you live, from the stage. Working with my new director, Rebecca Fisher, I've become more adventuresome in incorporating additional music and even some dance. Rebecca Fisher also directs Diane Barnes' show, My Stroke of Luck and David Ford continues to advise us all. So grateful for all the folks in the solo performers village of the Bay Area who give so generously of their time and feedback as we grow our show. Heartfelt thanks.
One of the side benefits of my performances is hearing your stories afterwards. This had led me back to . . . a book project, a different book, not that novel I had started long ago. It’s a book of stories about names that folks share with me in person, via Facebook, my website, or by email. In addition to a wide range of name stories the book will include research on names that I’ve found most interesting in the fields of sociology, psychology, and law, not just here but in other countries. So stay tuned.
If you haven’t seen the most recent version of my play, I'd love to see you at The SF Marsh on Wednesday, November 15th at 7:30 pm. It's my last show this year.
And check what other folks have said after seeing my show.