This Girl Dreams Big
The words of Gilda Radner started to become an inspiration to me when I was looking for quotes for the program of my original play, Wombanhood.
I thought it would be fitting to use a Radner quote considering she lost her battle with ovarian cancer and this play was about women’s reproductive health, inspired by my own brush with ovarian cancer. I found a great quote:“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” It perfectly incapsulated the essence and message of my play.
Since then I took a pretty big break from my play and writing, but that’s the magic about our passions in life, they don’t hold grudges, if we step away, they will be right there where we left them, allowing us to pick them up again. So here I am, many months later and working on a different incarnation of Wombanhood and approaching my acting, writing, and dancing with a new energy, and I couldn’t help but go back to an old inspiration….hence this quote above, “dreams are like paper, they tear so easily.” I honestly don’t know if they agree, I don’t know if they tear as easily as paper, my dreams have been put to the test and they are still here, they have been abandoned at times, but they are still here. Then again, regardless if there exist or not, I wonder, are they torn? Have they changed shape? Broken apart in ways that even put back together their tear will always show? And is there anything wrong with that? I am like my dreams, I’ve been torn, but I’ve been put back together, my scars visible. 
I wonder what to take away here. Some thoughts for the start of 2014….

The words of Gilda Radner started to become an inspiration to me when I was looking for quotes for the program of my original play, Wombanhood.

I thought it would be fitting to use a Radner quote considering she lost her battle with ovarian cancer and this play was about women’s reproductive health, inspired by my own brush with ovarian cancer. I found a great quote:“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” It perfectly incapsulated the essence and message of my play.

Since then I took a pretty big break from my play and writing, but that’s the magic about our passions in life, they don’t hold grudges, if we step away, they will be right there where we left them, allowing us to pick them up again. So here I am, many months later and working on a different incarnation of Wombanhood and approaching my acting, writing, and dancing with a new energy, and I couldn’t help but go back to an old inspiration….hence this quote above, “dreams are like paper, they tear so easily.” I honestly don’t know if they agree, I don’t know if they tear as easily as paper, my dreams have been put to the test and they are still here, they have been abandoned at times, but they are still here. Then again, regardless if there exist or not, I wonder, are they torn? Have they changed shape? Broken apart in ways that even put back together their tear will always show? And is there anything wrong with that? I am like my dreams, I’ve been torn, but I’ve been put back together, my scars visible. 

I wonder what to take away here. Some thoughts for the start of 2014….

strange poem wrote as it occurred to me

i thought it might be nice

but i now i will think twice

i tried to do this dance again

but now i’m twirling all alone

nobody’s arms wrapped around me

or voice to call home

so i will keep spinning

dizzy as i might be

i know i’ll do this dance again

i know i’ll think times three

and where this dance might take me

may or may night be where i choose to be

im not sad

i love to dance

i might just dance with you

and when this song ends we can be friends

or we can dance again

recommitting to writing every day

Past lives

Future tales

days end weeks bend

A year can make or break you.

Who are you in this skin ever changing

Testing your souls strength in this world ever challenging.

Good enough quick on the punch duck on your toes re-do not yet

breath and out

Calm serenity then speed away into the familiar unknown

Alone.

Or with a stranger that evolves into something stranger

I lover who I don’t know

Flesh and fluid of hurt and hope

Second to my dreams and third to my journey hold my hand to be close.

To me.

Would this be my choice should I choose again

Repetition to breed perfection

change for change evolution revolution reflection perfection redemption

Flexible hands sculpt a destiny

Wondering wanderer who am I to be

Wandering wonderer who longs to be free.

Vagina Monologues

I was recently was cast in a very special 15th Anniversary production of the Vagina Monologues. Please notice below, links to the ticket information if you are interested an able to see the show, it’s only 2 days February 18th and 19th. However most importantly I am including the links to the DONATIONS page! All of our proceeds are going to be given to benefit two amazingly important organizations, one being the V-Day Campaign, and the other (and majority of the proceeds) to viBe theatre eXperience.

V-DAY is a Global Campaign that aims to end violence against women around the world, it was started by the author of the Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler, who is currently doing work towards her mission in the Congo.

viBe theater eXperience is a youth organization designed to empower under-served inner city high school girls, many of whom are victims of sexual abuse, violence, neglect, and poverty. viBe aims to create a safe space for these girls to create theater and perform, write, and produce their own original works. Below are the links with all of the information.

Our cast of 16 talented Actresses, Director, A.D, Stage Manager, and a few people lending a helping hand have given ourselves a goal of $5,000 to raise in addition to ticket sales, but something tells me we can exceed this goal! I am reaching out for your support in any way you can. If you are not in a position to donate financially, I am the first person to understand that, but please then spread the word, pass along the awareness, and help us reach our larger goal of ending violence against women, for once and for all!

The Fundraiser link can be found at:

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/andreabertola/thevaginamonologues2013

This is the link to our write-up in Broadwayworld.com:

http://offoffbroadway.broadwayworld.com/article/THE-VAGINA-MONOLOGUES-V-Day-Benefit-Performance-Set-for-HERE-Arts-Center-218-19-20130110-page2

Eve Ensler’s Global Campain #1Billionrising

http://www.vday.org/home

Our main beneficiary - viBe theater eXperience:

http://www.vibetheater.org/ Peace, Love, and Light

Faith

It’s days like today where I believe in belief.

I don’t consider myself religious, but I am spiritual. I believe in something greater. I believe in the power of faith, and one persons faith and persistence can truly move mountains and make miracles happen. And I also believe that if you possess the courage of conviction, small victories and achievements can feel like a mountain moving or a miracle happening, even if it’s really not of that magnitude.

There is so much more that I want to say, but I don’t think I need to. Lately I’ve just been learning the beauty of staying true to yourself, even when it feels impossible. I can attest to the fact that if we give things enough time, the answers will reveal themselves.

what is it?

As I was walking back from my teaching job this morning, on my way to work at the gym, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. Today, I go from teaching in the Bronx to covering the desk at a gym in a luxury building in Tribeca, and on my break, I will be teaching a Zumba class a couple of blocks away. The kind of day where I leave my house at 7am and don’t get home until 11pm. My days consist of going from job to job, and this is all for the sake of pursuing my acting career.

This is a real look at what it means to pursue your dreams. The occasional exciting events and acting jobs, photos that make me look more important than I actually am…all of that is just what is seen on the surface. What it really looks like is working several jobs to stay afloat, getting home and realizing that you haven’t had a real conversation with anyone other than your students, and some days the closest thing you get to your acting career is an email letting you know that you weren’t cast. It’s lonely and exhausting. But there is still some semblance of a fire that pushes you on.  There is that voice in your head, that feeling in your gut that tells you not to give up. That is what it is to pursue your dreams, it’s not just the gigs, its all the struggle that comes in between.

And the only way to tell if you have enough backbone to do this, is when you keep going, even after you’ve realized that all that you fought for, all that you’ve sacrificed, and all that hope might be for nothing. The moment you get closer to your dreams is the moment you decide to keep going, even if it really might not happen for you.

Yes

I’m thinking that I will make 2013 year of the YES. In reflecting on the way I chose to live my life this last year, I was very fearful of many things. I was terrified of rejection on both a professional and personal level and didn’t even realize it until now. I know I put myself out there in many ways, but I also closed myself off a lot. I made rash judgements, and while I tried so hard to be reflective, I think that I fell into the trap of reacting rather than responding more often that I would like. But along with this new number on the calendar, I accept that as my journey and I give myself the opportunity to Let Go. In my letting go, I will say YES to more things to get out there more. I have done a lot of reflecting, but reflection is pointless without action. There is a line from one of my favorite movies, True Romance, where Christian Slater’s Character is telling Alabama (Patricia Arquette) that he loves her and he says “I’m gonna throw caution into the wind and let the chips fall where they may.” Well, who could really ever put things better than Tarantino? My acting teacher and friend who introduced me to meditation guided us by telling us to just repeat the phrase “Let Go.” Sometimes you just gotta let go and let life happen.

Reflection on current events

As an actress, writer, educator, activist, and human being I’m saddened on so many levels.

I can’t help but feel the need to reflect, as I am an educator, I have a responsibility to children - I am relied on to teach them, but after recent events I am once again reminded of the fact that children teach us.

I was dreading going to work today. I was scheduled to teach my Kindergarten through 2nd grade from 9-12 and then teach my high school students from 3-5. As a teaching artist, I have to adapt each day to the energy of the school, being that I am not a full time member of the school community, there is always a bit of an adjustment at the beginning of each visit. Today, I didn’t know what the over all mood of the school would be. I told myself as I was walking into the building that I would be as flexible and understanding as possible, no matter how difficult the day might be. I prepared myself for the worst, but I walked into the best. Another morning of hugs and I love you’s.

Monday mornings I like to give these young excited minds a chance to talk about their weekend. One of my Kindergarten students raised her hand and said “Ms. Brill, I baked cookies with my mom and I cracked a whole egg by myself for the first time!” This made me want to cry, because I immediately thought of the children whose lives where taken, who may have lived their whole lives without cracking an egg, whose parents have been forever robbed of the opportunity to see their children do something for the first time, I thought of the parents who will never get to bring a new experience to their kids. I was overwhelmed with love and compassion and reminded myself to remember to love.

When I work with my students, its very easy to get frustrated at the questions that I cant figure out how to answer more clearly for them, the distractions from my lesson plan, the anxiety over all the people who I continuously try to please with me lessons, the idea of kids just not understanding it - but today, as I was hugged and smiled at and welcomed by my students - I was reminded that all of the things that consumed me were exhausting because I was making everything about me. The students reminded me that the focus is on them, the focus is giving love and support and encouragement and opportunity. It is in these classrooms, in each moment that we can give our kids what they need to become healthy adults, and positive contributions to the world.

They say you have to give love in order to get love, but I wonder what would happen if we set that saying on a global scale. What if, in the wake of tragedy, we don’t search to place blame but we work towards a positive change?

I’m opposed to loose gun laws but Im fearful of our tightening up on gun control, simply because of the use of the word, “control.” I wonder if, rather than searching for something to control after such a tragedy, we search for a freedom. A freedom to love openly, to be ourselves openly. To erase taboo’s from our lives, so that if a person struggling with mental health did feel that they were stigmatized, but could openly address their concerns and their perceived shortcomings. We all struggle and we all have our vices, some people’s vices are alcohol, some drugs, some food, some cigarettes, and tragically, some people’s vices is violence. What if there was no need for vices, what if we could communicate openly without the fear of rejection or the fear of being perceived as weak? This brings me back to the kids, they aren’t afraid to be themselves, they aren’t scared to shout “I love you” across the room to a virtual stranger, or get out of their seat and twirl for no reason, the become scared because social norms are imposed on them, and the love, the openness, the creativity gets smothered.

Where is the love and how can we begin to get it back? I truly pray that this is the final straw, that this horrific event is the darkest things will get and we and our children can awake to a new dawn and a brighter future.

High of my art

I feel like I’m high on something right now, this is what drive me as an artist, that exstatic elated feeling of pure happiness that comes out of practicing my art.

Yesterday I had a second reading of my script, ‘Wombanhood.’ This reading was with revisions made from the first reading, and I got the same group together with a few new additions. I can’t express the gratitude I feel for the people who came to support, who lent me their voices, their talents, their time (on a rainy Sunday) and their creativity.

The journey of this script started before I ever even knew it, when I was first diagnosed with a potentially malignant tumor, I had no idea that when they removed my tumor, my tumor which turned out to be cancer, that what replaced that cancer would be this idea - this play that I’m working on. When I sat recovering from the first surgery, being kept comfortable by nurses and then my family, I felt this indescribable need to do something. To take this pain, this fear, and this fortune of survival and support and give something back. I thought maybe I would volunteer at hospitals or do community service, but it didn’t feel like enough.

I spent a almost two years with this void - feeling like I had to do something about what I went through. During this time I was in Grad school at NYU getting a dual Master’s in Educational Theatre and English Education. Graduation was fast approaching, and with the excitement of a graduation comes the dread of turning in a Thesis. Somehow it clicked. I was able to use my experience to develop my thesis and write a play about Women’s health (Educational Theatre work has an element of social responsibility.) Writing a play tied together the English and the Theatre. I developed this play and turned it in, and then did nothing with it. Then, about 8 months later, I was diagnosed with another tumor. This one again, turned out to be cancerous. And I knew I had to get my play out there. I knew that the thing that I had to do was spread the word and start dialogue about women’s health. That these conversations should not be behind closed doors in doctors offices but should be on the forefront.

With all that being said, I feel so blessed that I am  getting the support to continue moving forward with this play. There is a great team of people working on this project and I’m so thankful for them. Yesterday’s reading was inspirational on so many levels, not only in how I can move forward with my project, but for the interaction with other artists and learning their ideas and their adventures.

I’m all smiles today. I feel alive.

Family in Texas, such a great weekend!

Family in Texas, such a great weekend!