Did you ever really love someone who couldn’t care less about you? Someone who didn’t know you were there?
That was me in Los Angeles. Between the boyfriend and the movie business, I was invisible and unheard, lost in the labyrinth of addiction and delusion, having left behind a three year old son, to be raised by his father.
Reality is so much stranger than fiction it has taken me forty years to put this story together. First I had to get sober.
THE HOLLYWOOD DREAMCATCHER
The Hollywood Dreamcatcher is a spoken word epic, a cycle of 24 poems I perform as a one-woman show recreating the progression of alcoholism from denial and delusion to the possibility of recovery.
The dreamcatcher is a Native American symbol, a net of knotted string held within a ring, and placed above a child’s bed. The bad dreams are caught in the net, but the good spirit enters through the center of the net into the dreams of the sleeping child.
The Hollywood Dreamcatcher captures the nightmares of addiction, while allowing the blessings to come through, so that the reader/listener experiences both the disease and the recovery.
Creating the Hollywood Dreamcatcher has been the work of a lifetime, but when you consider how devastating it was for a son to be left with his father while his mother went off to Hollywood, it was the least I could do. I wanted to redeem myself, and demonstrate that nothing is impossible with God, that God turns all things to good. It’s my testimony. Each time I perform it, I hope that it will help one person see the light and come home.
In order to complete and perform this piece, I studied acting, improvisation, stand-up comedy, playwriting, singing, and jazz dance, in classes over 20 years in NYC, at HB Studio, Playwrights Horizons, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Iowa Summer Writers Workshop, and Columbia University’s School of General Studies.
I first performed a poem about Los Angeles in 1977 in Manhattan Beach. I performed the earliest pieces at showcase clubs in Manhattan, for audiences of a few drunks at 2am. The first version of this piece was a cycle of poems and monologues called “Penance for Los Angeles.” I performed it at Playwrights Horizons Summerfest in 1993, with thanks to E. Katharine Kerr. But after the first production bombed in Branford, CT in 1994, I put it away and tried to move on.
After I completed social work school in 2008 and became a therapist working with people recovering from substance abuse and trauma, I came to believe that my story could benefit others. I took up meditation, and read Shantdeva’s “Guide to the Bodhissatva Way of Life.”
And I returned to the story of how I had left my son for a false promise, and how I had been turned around and empowered to come home.
The Hollywood Dreamcatcher has been performed for private audiences in salons on Long Island and in NYC. The first public performance was at the Brick Presbyterian Church in NYC in October 2014.
I perform pieces from the Hollywood Dreamcatcher at open mics throughout Long Island and NYC, including the Nyorican Poets Café and the Inspired Word. Recently after a performance at Cyrus Chai and Coffee, the ten year old son of two poet friends, announced to his parents that “Dead Woman’s Head” is his favorite poem in the entire world. Wow.
I hope you enjoy these excerpts.
Poem at the Bus Stop Bench
Dead Woman's Head