November 23, 2011

My Guest Blog Post

I was asked by Deb Prado, who runs (the host site where I have my MBCT website), to write a guest post for her new blog about the arts and entrepreneurship.  She asked me to write about my experience with fundraising on for the Bohemian Book Project.  Here is the post below, but you can also read it on her blog.

My friend Amia Yokoyama and I met last year in the Czech Republic.  We were both students at New York University’s Gallatin School, and we were on a three-week study abroad program studying art and culture in Central Europe.  Amia comes from a visual arts background with an interest in stop-motion animation.  I’m in theatre – a director and writer.  We had both chosen to study art with the Czech Republic program because it introduced us to Artmill, a sustainable farm and art residency tucked away in the countryside of Bohemia.  Our days were filled with running through mud, chasing animals, swimming in the lake, going for walks, drinking tea by the fire, picking vegetables in the garden, helping in the kitchen, and, of course, sitting in our studios drawing and painting and building and filming and thinking thinking thinking.

This past spring, Amia and I met up to discuss how we could return to Artmill.  We had fallen in love with the land and the people, and we knew that we needed to return to the inspiring Bohemian air to collaborate on a project.  A book!  A children’s book!  With Amia’s art and my storytelling, it was the perfect match.

Over the course of a couple weeks, we met in Amia's Brooklyn apartment to lay out our project, which we called the Bohemian Book Project.  We wanted to tell a story that linked the past with the present through Czech traditions and the sustainable practices at Artmill.  We poured over Czech and Slavic folktales at the library, noting common themes and motifs among them.  We brainstormed plots, characters, and mythical creatures; we argued morals; we shared artwork; and we went back and forth with ideas until it became obvious that we just needed to get back to Bohemia.  We needed to breathe the air of the countryside, run around the farm, and soak in the magic of the land itself.  But first we needed to raise money to help pay for the travel costs of returning to the Czech Republic.

And this is where the real Bohemian Book Project kicked in.  How does an artist raise money for a project?  We didn’t have anything to show – we had not yet made any art or written a story; all we had was an idea.

So, that was when our meetings changed from brainstorming book ideas to making videos about the project itself.  We joined Kickstarter, a fundraising website for creative projects.  There we chose a monetary goal ($3000), a deadline (30 days), and uploaded a video and text describing our project.  We listed rewards for different levels of donations and added photos, videos, and messages to update our donors as the project grew.  If we didn’t make our goal in that amount of time, we wouldn’t be able to keep any of the money.  You can check out our page here:

Spoiler: we made our goal plus $26!

But how did we do it?  How did we raise $3000 in 30 days?  It was the quite the challenge.

Fundraising is a big old pain in the arse, a lesson I learned years ago.  I have been self-producing theatre for the past several years in New York City, and raising funds has taken up as much of my time/energy/tolerance, if not more, than actually writing and directing the plays.  It is hard, very very hard, to find investors when you are an individual artist (opposed to an organization, though even then it’s still extremely hard), and harder still when you aren’t an established name.  So I knew from first hand experience that simply posting a video was not going to help Amia and me find strangers who wanted to throw hundreds, thousands, millions of dollars at us so we could write a children’s fairytale about Bohemia and the environment.  We had to target people we knew.

Social networking was our friend.  E-mail, Facebook, blogs... we updated and updated and bugged the heck out of everyone we knew.  Everyone.  It is simply amazing who will come out the woodwork to offer $25 for your project.  Old high school friends, people we haven’t talked to in years, friends across the world – and $10 here and $50 there really adds up.  Some days the line on our Kickstarter graph would suddenly jump up and we'd prematurely celebrate our success.  But other days, the line would plateau, and we’d panic that we'd never meet our goal.  And then days would go by and the line still wouldn’t budge; that’s when we knew that we had to be proactive and make another video, post more photos, or write another blog entry.  And then we'd Facbeook and e-mail the bejeezus out of it.  We made sure that everyone knew what we were up to, how much more money we had to make, and how much time we had to make it in.  Yeah, sure, we knew we were bordering on annoyance, but we really believed in our project, and we really needed the help and support of our community.  And our community came through.

Fundraising is a big old pain in the arse, and it will never get easier.  But it works if you stay proactive.  Amia and I are extremely proud of our successful campaign, and we're extremely grateful for the generosity of our supporters.  As the Bohemian Book Project progresses, we expect to either use Kickstarter or some other fundraising method again.  Because in the end, it is all about the art, but our art can only survive with the support of the community.


Miriam’s blog:

Amia’s webstie:

the Bohemian Book Project’s Kickstarter page:


August 20, 2011

Ari and Elana and Art

I just met my friends Ari and Elana for brunch -- they're visiting the East Coast from Denver -- and we had a really interesting conversation about art.  Elana is a beautiful painter, and I was trying to relate her experience in the studio arts to mine in the performing arts.  Realism, for instance, has an entirely different meaning for her than it does in the theatre, and just the process of labeling one's work is a heady, overwrought one.  I have been categorized as both traditional and avant garde, and though I have fought against and distanced myself from these labels, I have also slowly started to embrace them.  I'm getting sick of being between categories -- lost somewhere between straightforward and weird.  I mix genres, styles, and techniques not so much to create a new art form but rather to enhance and amplify the storytelling traditions that originally sprung the theatre we know today.  And Elana has had a similar struggle.  In her world, labels are there to box you in and remind you that you are a painter, this is what you do, and this is what you must fight against if you are going to go "rogue."  She too finds herself caught between categories, and rather than describe how she paints, she has chosen to just paint.  She defines herself not as a still-life or portrait realist, but as a painter.  And from her I learn to say that I am not an avant garde revisionist or an adaptor of classics or an auteur-director, but rather I am a theatre artist.  I trust my imagination, I write, I direct, and I do.  And if it happens to be weird experimental downtown theatre or a naturalistic rendering of a classic, then so be it.  But today, this is where my whim has led me, and today this is where I follow.

August 13, 2011

Bohemian Dreams

I'm back in the States after two wonderful weeks in Bohemia, the land of dreams.

Amia and I worked on our book project, and we now have a solid skeleton of story and illustrations.  She is still traveling around Europe, and when she returns we will hunker down and re-collaborate on the book.

Amia, always gorgeous
For now, I am focusing on editing the text and finding the right words to describe the otherworldly, dark, mysterious, ethereal world we are creating together.

me too?
While in Bohemia, Amia and I also taught at Artmill, an international arts camp in the wilds of Bohemia.  She taught animation and I drama.  The kids were hilarious and inspiring, and the other teachers were crazily awesome.  We made some incredible life-lasting friends and found a whole new community of artists.

Bohemia is an artist's dream for inspiration:

July 31, 2011

And back

And here we are, back again at Artmill.  Amia and I are having a wonderful time.  We are finding such inspirations for our book.  Just look at these wonderful surroundings!

And my newly discovered favorite plant - the hawthorne berry trees:

July 27, 2011

Here we come, Bohemia!

Amia and I leave this evening for Bohemia where we will be working on the Bohemian Book Project and teaching at Artmill's international arts camp.  We are very excited to get to the Czech Republic and immerse ourselves in the unique culture and environment of the farming countryside.

We will be posting updates about our project here, so keep checking back.  To Bohemia we go!

(If you'd like to support the Bohemian Book Project, please visit Amia's website.)

June 18, 2011

We did it!

With 54 minutes left of our fundraiser, we have made our goal -- with change!!!  We asked for $3,000, and you helped us reach just over 100% at $3,026.  We'll be sure to spend that extra $26 well -- probably on beer.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our Bohemian Book Project.  Amia and I cannot wait to get over to Bohemia and start collecting materials, creating collages and still lifes, taking photos, and writing the story for our book.

We are both extremely passionate about finding new ways to talk about taking care of the environment and appreciating the land around us.  In the Czech Republic, there is a rich storytelling history, and by modernizing a traditional folktale we hope to show children that the earth provides us a myriad of wonders from the practical, like food, to the abstract, like natural beauty.

If you would like to donate to our Bohemian Book Project, please visit Amia's website. There are rewards for every level of support:

  • Pledge of $5 or more:
    • an e-mail from us thank you for your generous donation!
  • Pledge of $5 or more:
    • the above + a postcard sent from the Czech Republic with an update on the project!
  • Pledge of $50 or more:
    • the above + your name included in the acknowledgements in the book!
  • Pledge of $100 or more:
    • the above + an original illustration created by us while in the Czech Republic!
  • Pledge of $250 or more:
    • the above + a signed copy of the book!
  • Pledge of $500 or more:
    • the above + a special thank you message and an original illustration from the book!
  • Pledge of $750 or more:
    • the above + hand-bound, limited edition signed copy of the book!
  • Pledge of $1000 or more:
    • the above + a commissioned art piece

Thank you again for supporting this important and exciting project!

June 17, 2011

24 hours to go!

We only have 4% left and only 24 hours to go!

Please help us reach the end of our goal at kickstarter.

Amia and I are really excited about how close we are, but just need a tiny bit more of help to finish.  Thank you in advance!

June 10, 2011

A Bohemian Tale

Click here for an update on my Bohemian Book Project!  It's a new film telling the tale of two girls named Amia and Miriam who ventured on a kickstarter project together.  It's quite a wondrous tale.

Our Bohemian Book Project only has ONE MORE WEEK on kickstarter to raise funds.  We are so grateful to everyone who has already contributed, but we still have about 50% more to go!  The rule is, if we don't make all our funds in 30 days, we don't get to keep anything at all.  So we super need your support to help us make our goal!

The reason this project is so exciting is that we're using folklore to talk about current issues surrounding the environment.  Amia and I are big fans of nature, and we're looking for new and innovative ways to talk about how we can preserve, care for, and better understand the world around us.  The Bohemian Book Project allows us to combine storytelling with mixed-media illustrations to share our love for the earth.

The money we raise through kickstarter will go towards the materials and travel costs for the beginning stages of our project.  Travel costs?  Oh yes, our project begins in BOHEMIA (it's a real place, we promise).  We're interested in the Czech Republic's rich history of storytelling, where fairytales have a unique blend of morality, fantasy, and absurdity.  To Bohemia we will go to explore the local lore!  We're excited to steep ourselves in a culture that so treasures stories and the imagination.

Also, while in Bohemia, Amia and I will begin collecting recycled and reclaimed materials for our illustrations.  They will be a combination of still lifes, photographs, drawings, and collages.  It is important to us that we discover our materals while in the Czech Republic, so that the illustrations in our book have the same origin as the story we tell.

So please please read more about our project on kickstarter, watch our newest video, and lend us a couple buckaroos!

Remember, we only have one week left!

June 7, 2011

An Update on the Bohemian Book Project

We're almost 1/2 way to our goal of $3,000, but we only have 10 days left to finish!  We appreciate everyone's help so far, as even a couple dollars is amazing support for this project.  But, with 10 days left and $1535 to go, we really need to start begging.  So:


find more photos and information on the Bohemian Book Project:

the original kickstarter video and project plan

May 22, 2011

The Bohemian Book Project

My friend Amia and I are collaborating on the Bohemian Book Project, an illustrated children's book that explores art and the environment through a modernized folk tale from the Czech Republic.  We both studied at ArtMill last year, an internation arts center and sustainable farm in Bohemia, and we have been invited back to teach art and drama this summer.  We are really excited for this amazing opportunity, and while there we hope to begin work on our book!  We'll collect found objects and recycled/reclaimed materials from around the farm, talk with locals about the history of Bohemia, take photographs of the countryside, and immerse ourselves in the rich storytelling traditions of the region.  The book's illustrations will be a combination of photography, collage, and drawings inspired by the Bohemian landscape. 

We have made a little film explaining our project and asking for your help to fund it.  We have 30 days to raise $3,000 (the cost of two plane tickets to the Czech Republic), and we're already a 1/3 of the way there!  Please follow this link to find out more about the BOHEMIAN BOOK PROJECT.  There are rewards for every stage of donation, and please please tell all your friends!

May 16, 2011

a new project

I am embarking on a new project!  This one is a collaboration with a fellow artist and friend, and it involves travel, storytelling, art, and the environment.  Details are coming soon.

Also, two years of grad school have come to an end.  I'd say it sped by, but there were plenty of moments that dragged on for years.  The thesis is written and defended, and I'm free to go off and running towards the rest of my life.  What that means, however, befuddles me.

Until the launch of the new project!

March 25, 2011

... and so ...

And so... another show ends.  Three Sisters: a tale of dreams and woe has officially closed.  It's been a hectic, tiring, exhilarating, passionate last few months.  Now it's time for a nap.

Thank you to our generous donors for helping bring this production to life:

Leonard Shustek
Frank Tobin and Ilene Chester
Wendy and Russell Wolfson

March 21, 2011

3 more chances to see 3 Sisters (and a brother and a sister-in-law)

After a fantastic opening this weekend, Three Sisters: a tale of dreams and woe is going strong!  There are only three more chances to see this highly physical, absurdly humorous show, so buy your tickets before they fly away.

The Brooklyn Lyceum
227 4th Avenue (R to Union Street)

3/22, 23, 24 @ 8pm

Tickets: $15 ($10 for Students w/ ID, Seniors) TheaterMania

There are also 3 more ART STAMPEDE piece which are part of our multi-arts festival of theatre, dance, poetry, and prose featuring artists from around Gallatin, NYU, the Atlantic Theater Company, and the greater NYC community.

Readings of Poetry & Prose
. . . Tuesday (3/22) @ 6pm

The Bensonhurst Readings
. . . Thursday (3/24) @ 6pm

Sketches from Youth
(dance/performance art)
. . . Thursday (3/24) @ 7pm

Tickets to the Art Stampede are $10, and a discounted $20 Stampede/3 Sisters can be purchased at the theatre.

After 2 years of imagining, 1 year of writing, 6 months of pre-production, and 3 months of rehearsing, I am really proud of all the hard work the artists involved have poured into this project.  I hope you are able to come to the theatre and see what we've been up to!

Only a few more shows... have you bought your tickets yet?

March 6, 2011

make way for the ART STAMPEDE!

The ART STAMPEDE is here!  Please join us at the Brooklyn Lyceum, March 18-24 for this multi-arts festival featuring artists from the NYU community.

Three Sisters: a tale of dreams and woe . . . . . . . . . 3/18, 19, 22, 23, 24 @ 8pm; 3/20 @ 5pm
A Benefit for Food Not Bombs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sat (3/19) @ 6pm
Readings of Poetry & Prose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sun (3/20) @ 3pm; Tues (3/22) @ 6pm
The Bensonhurst Readings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Thurs (3/24) @ 6pm
Sketches from Youth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thurs (3/24) @ 7pm

Tickets to Three Sisters are $15 ($10 for seniors and students w/ ID); Art Stampede tickets are $10.  A combination Art Stampede/Three Sisters ticket is $20, which can be purchased at the theatre.  Solo Three Sisters tickets may be purchased in advance at TheaterMania.

Meet the Prozorovs

Olga, Masha, Irina
Andrei and Natasha.
Oh, Irina, rot is wong?

Olga's happy /  she feels so sappy.
Masha has a bout of melancholera.

February 28, 2011

Hang onto your hats, we have some crazy news!

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, MBCT has a new home for its production of Three Sisters: a tale of dreams and woe and the Art Stampede.  We have spent the last couple of days researching, visiting, and talking with various theaters around the city and after careful consideration have found what we believe to be a wonderful new theatre!  A couple of the production dates have also changed.

Our new home is The Brooklyn Lyceum.  The production dates are as follows:

Three Sisters: a tale of dreams and woe
March 18, 19, 22, 23, 24 @ 8pm
March 20 @ 5pm

Tickets to Three Sisters are $15 ($10 for seniors and students w/ ID); Art Stampede tickets are $10.  A combination Art Stampede/Three Sisters ticket is $20, which can be purchased at the theatre.  Solo Three Sisters tickets may be purchased in advance at TheaterMania.

Thank you for understanding this sudden change to venue and dates.  We are really proud of the work we're creating, and the Brooklyn Lyceum truly compliments the aesthetics of Three Sisters.  In the end, this may actually be a blessing-in-disguise, and we can't wait to discover all the possibilities this new space offers. 

Come join MBCT on this crazy adventure as we move into a new home!  See you at the theatre.

February 19, 2011


Here 'tis, the new MBCT website:

Tour the website, leave comments, look at pictures from past shows, and most importantly:


February 13, 2011

Party Time!

Please join MBCT, the cast and crew of Three Sisters: a tale of dreams and woe, and the artists of MBCT's ART STAMPEDE this Thursday for a party.  We're celebrating our last month before show time!

Thursday, February 17, 7-10pm
Hope & Anchor (347 Van Brundt Street, Brooklyn)
Karaoke starts at 9pm
$10 suggested donations

Join our event on Facebook.

Drink, relax, and laugh with fellow artists in support of art.  I hope to see all of you there!

February 2, 2011

We're all over the internet!

On Theater Mania:

On Broadway World:

On Playbill:

Photo Shoot in Central Park

This past Sunday, bright and early at 8am, we met in Central Park, bright and early at 8am, for our Three Sisters photo shoot.  

And it was COLD!

We trudged through the snow and under tunnels, over bridges and across meadows...

... have I mentioned that is was really COLD?

Desiree, our photographer, led us to the location: a beautiful wooden bridge over a  creek.  Fallen logs, hollowed out trunks, and tree stumps provided a wonderfully fairytale-esque little corner of the park.

The actors, with the help of a team of about five, quickly changed from their warm winter clothes into lingerie, underwear, fur collars, and jewelry.

Cheeks were pinched, hair was twirled, and they lined up for their Family Portrait.

Then, each actor had an individual portrait, posing in their underwear in the midst of the frozen tundra.

Five actors meant five crazy winter challenges: Sarah stood up to her knees in the creek, Alex stood up to her knees in the snow, Charlie balanced on a snowy log over the creek, Emily lay in the snow under a hollowed out log, and Tim stood on a slippery rock in the middle of the creek.

Everyone was happy when it was time to pack up and go find heat.

Well, happy but still cold.

And until the official photographs are ready for their reveal, here's a sneak peak.
The Family Portrait, street clothes-style:
Tim (Andrei), Sarah (Olga), Emily (Masha), Alex (Irina), Charlie (Natasha)

January 10, 2011

Happy New Year, everyone!

MBCT is getting excited about 2011, because this means we're only a couple months away from the show!  As you can see from the Weekend Workshop photos, the actors are a well skilled, imaginative, enthusiastic group.

In two weeks, we'll have a photo shoot in the park to capture the dark, dreary mood of the play.  Keep watch for photos!

I hope everyone is enjoying their new year and gearing up for the next three months of THREE SISTERS news.

Weekend Workshop