What I remember most from childhood is reading and horses and singing and performing: My parents had decided to homeschool me, and until the age of fourteen, I did nothing but practice my creative outlets and read novels.
I went to a Performing Arts high school after that, but the beginnings of my life are very strongly embedded in my psyche and personality.
In many ways, my childhood reminds me of that of a Chekhov heroine… some of the girls who grow up in the countryside and read and dream of a far-away life full of culture.
We were in a canyon in Southern California, ten miles from the nearest town, and a whole mile from our nearest neighbor.
I was bored a lot of the time, since we didn’t have anyone nearby to play with except the three of us, siblings. I am the eldest, by four years, so it always seemed that there must be something interesting just waiting around the corner for me to discover. I thought a book would have a clue, and I kept reading and reading, trying to get into a life that made sense to me.
And suddenly, when was eighteen, I took in into my head to study theater (mostly only been dancing ballet before that, and doing mini-musicals with the wonderful local Betsy Goodspeed).
Went off to the Eugene O’Neil Theater Center in Connecticut. Next year to Russia, to study for four years at the Moscow Art Theater Institute.
For any of you who are aware of the connection, and for those of you who aren’t, I’ll remind you; Anton Chekhov, who wrote classic plays like “The Seagull” and “Three Sisters” was a success once the Moscow Art Theater, under the direction of Stanislavsky, began producing his plays. Originally “The Seagull” was booed off the stage.
Now the basics of Stanislavsky’s method are the basis of many of the American styles of acting: Meisner, Straussberg, etc…
With all that said, I enjoy the singing part of theater very much, and am grateful to have been introduced to this art with much thanks to my mother, Nadia, and Betsy Goodspeed and Co.
Below is a youtube clip of me performing “God Bless the Child” at a friend’s evening of music in Ojai, California. Her name is Fern Barishman.
She is a wonderful pianist, versatile in style, and a joy to listen to.