Preview of FloydFest 2019 - “Voyage Home”

Words of Cristina Byrne

With a plethora of festivals to choose from all across America this summer, the one DIBS will be packing up and driving 421 miles to take part in is FloydFest. We are excited to pitch a tent in the Blue Ridge Mountains (which is considered to be one of the most beautiful and iconic parts of American landscape ) of Southwest Virginia for the five-night festival in Floyd, Virginia that is promising to deliver a celebration of music and art from July 24th to July 28th.

What caught our eye was not only the location and it’s scenery, but also the varying music genres of Americana, roots, and rock and roll, sprinkled with bluegrass, R&B, soul, funk, country, newgrass, reggae, blues, and indie as well as a lineup that features over a hundred artists on more than 8 stages. Appearances will include The String Cheese Incident, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Grammy Winner Kacey Musgraves, Grammy Winner Brandi Carlile, Tyler Childers, Grammy Nominee Margo Price, Grammy Winner Fantastic Negrito, Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real and a whole lot more. Check out the full lineup here.

“We care deeply about attention to details, and wait until you see our stages, timber-framed structures designed to meld with the high-mountain landscape,” explained Sam Calhoun, the COO of the Festival and treasurer of it’s non-profit arm, Blue Cow Arts. “Our foundation is live music, outdoor adventure, and craft beer, but we are so much more than that.”

With outdoor adventures such as on the water cool down, mountain biking, a trail running race, hiking trail, and disc golf and a vibrant and varied vendors, quality brews and grub, healing arts, workshops, art installations, and even activities for the kiddos. Calhoun says, “You should expect the unexpected.”

With this year’s theme as the Voyage Home, Calhoun explains, “We feature new onsite art installations and surprises built around that theme.”

“It speaks to the journey to this point and underscores the culture of community created on that mountain,” says Calhoun. “This really is a voyage home for many of our patrons. This really is their festival; this is their home; and that catalyzes our energy toward making this the most indelible FloydFest ever. To boot, this voyage is about the music, and how some of our headliners are ‘voyaging home’ to their roots … back to where it all began,” Calhoun continued.

With this event being nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the “home” vibe will have it’s own homage paid on the very stage the artists perform on. FloydFest centers around culture and community, and we look forward to seeing that cultivated by the picture-esque scene on the mountain. “Our culture is about family,” said Calhoun. “We have had our children grow up on that mountain, and, after 19 years, they are now adults and stewarding a new generation of FloydFest Family. FloydFest is a place where children can run free, and parents feel safe letting them roam, as there’s an unspoken collective responsibility for all. Our culture is also about camping and outdoor adventure, discovering new music and being one with nature. It’s about meeting new friends and having an annual sanctuary to reconnect with old friends.”

We hope to see ya’ll at the mountain for music and magic!

Want to partake in the “Voyage Home?” Purchase your ticket and get for more information about FloydFest here. Rules and packing list for FloydFest here. Also, if you want a preview of what to expect check out FloydFest19 Voyage Home on Spotify.

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Poems by Siblings

Photo by Cristina Byrne | Actress Alyssa Lou Ann Allen

Photo by Cristina Byrne | Actress Alyssa Lou Ann Allen

I’m a warrior.

I’m a women with dark fire within.

I’m lifting up mountains and praising the gods under the sun while I sing.

This land’s an unfortunate gift we’ve been given,

One that we’ve squandered away.

I fight to define her,

I carry her,

and protect her.

Keeping the demons I can at bay.

- Larissa Nemeth

Photo by Andrew Tanglao

Photo by Andrew Tanglao

You think you’ve stared into my soul,

Do you?

            Watched me exchange trainers

for my teacher heels

under my desk;

            contrived to sneak

up behind me to snigger

                                         while I clicked

in haste to class, late for lesson two.

 But rewind and you disappear like an overexposed ghost; it’s just me and my own two

feet in the dawn,


                             to socks

                             to soles

And that combination clicks

like a train

on rails

            I’m on my way, cushioned in sneakers

waiting for a bus in cold iron light, ground firm beneath my heels

 We’ve been trained

our whole lives to

bear the scars of these pink and puckered heels.

From Payless to red soles,

celluloid sneaks

stiletto spikes encircling our imaginations;

they corral, they protect, they beat us back into ugly cliques.

 You’re a woman?  You choose.

Stand out like two fingers clicked

at you with your tray of champagne in hand, or

                                                                               slide onto a last chance train

carriage unnoticed? sneak

or walk tall? fade to

chameleon gray or hobble through your night as the life and soul-

from which wounds will you faster begin to heal?

 Then there’s the fear, the Achilles Heel.

YOU CAN’T WIN is tattooed up your calf and it’s just clicked

that no matter what’s in your soul

or how hard you train

or how much you have to

give, you’re damned

at ground level or six inches closer to god, not safe in platforms or sneakers

  And whether sneakers

or heels,

or sandals, or square toes-

like the beating of an underfloor heart, the click-

the stomp – they reverberate, build me up as I train

to separate mind body and sole.

  Yes.  I see you sneaking your way up to the cliques

At the top, the eschelons of power, hell round a boardroom table,

Straining to appear alpha.  I may switch shoes when it suits. 

                                                                                                But you

                                                                                                Have swapped your soul.

-Leah Mullen

Photo by Cristina Byrne

Photo by Cristina Byrne

To whose fingers play the music

I bow for style

The rhythm upset my ears

The lyrics left me blind

Notes had me resigned

Neither matters

For in the end it is

The strum that has us combined

Twisted and rubbed

Take a look at these hands

They are not even mine

And yet here I am binded and blinded

Able to sway

Here, music for all.

- Thomas Byrne

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30 means,

Italian food,

Spanish wine,

French kisses,

And an Irish bar.

30 means,

live happily,

grow naturally,

dream freely,

And speak honestly.

30 means,

Less of over there

And more of over here!

30 means,

whatever I want it to mean

defined by me!

-Cristina Byrne


Poetry Project: Shoes

Illustration by    Bruna Mebs

Illustration by Bruna Mebs

Dr. Martens 8 Eyes

By Larissa Nemeth

These boots they have tongues

And speak volumes

 they say

Fuck you 

Or fuck me.

They take me miles.

Through dirt, city grime

Up mountains

Down alleys.

Do you hear their heavy heels?


Where we have gone

Where we are eager to go.

In shirt, pants and jacket

Still naked without them.

Like a warrior cinderella

This pair is my sole mate.

Combat-ready but steady wishing for peace.


For the Love of Shoes

By Christina Ihnken

 Head over heels only happens in flip flops,

Falling in love, that still requires real shoes.


Collect all the colors, brown, white, red, and black,

On a plastic shoe rack, arrange them neatly,

Put yourself on display completely.


The ones you love dearest, bring them everywhere you go,

That’s what the trunk of your car was secretly designed for.

Never confuse comfort with fit, fearlessly face buyer’s remorse and regret.


Scuffs and scars inside and out, worn out tongues,

Uneven base, old shoe boxes filled with faded receipts,

A crisp love letter as proof for stumbling into playful pitter-patter.


Your cobbler knows you better than your bar tender.

Are a pair of shoes soulmates, and we are the third wheel?

Barefoot, the new trendsetter, hide your sole but reveal how you feel.


A Start to Unfinished Shoe Poems

By Cristina Byrne

Sometimes I wear them,

And sometimes I don’t.


So, what is the occasion?

I need to remember to think of the season

And does it go with what I am wearing.

 Do you think I should change them?


 Are they real?

Or are they fake?

Said a kid about some other kids Puma’s.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Just look at them, they look fake.”

They look like real shoes to me!


Apparently, Billy Joel says,

“Don’t waste your money on a new set of speakers,

You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers.”

Yet, Wale (the rapper) gives this good advice,

“If they’re gonna judge you for life

Say we can’t always be fly

We gon’ be good long as them sneakers white.”

 And wasn’t there a story in Narcos,

About Pablo’s mom stealing a pair of shoes

So he wouldn’t get made fun of in school.


Some have many and some have few

Some have old and some have new.

So, “Where do my sneakers go at night?”

I know, I know,

Where you left them last,

 Or up someone’s ass.

So, if the shoes fits

don’t quit,

take a stand and lend a hand!


Talk Theatre. Do Theatre. Be Theatre.

Below is an interview with three Artistic Directors, from three different states - PA, NE, IL - to discuss elements of theater from their perspective.

Artistic Director James Jordan | Touchstone Theatre | Bethlehem, PA

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James has called Touchstone Theatre his artistic home for its last thirteen seasons. He has helped produce over seventy productions since arriving at Touchstone, serving in multiple capacities including director, designer, composer, actor, and playwright. Some of James’s most notable contributions were his leadership as Project Director for Touchstone’s last two community-based productions A Resting Place and Journey from the East and his original series of musical comedies under The Pan Show title, which chronicles the misadventures of the Greek God Pan as he is placed into modern day America, co-written with Touchstone Ensemble Affiliate Christopher Shorr. Both projects have brought accolades in the form of awards given by Bethlehem’s local press; notable amongst these honors were “Producer of the Year” and “Best Original Play.” Before coming to Touchstone, James worked at the Zoellner Arts Center on Lehigh University’s campus. During his five-year tenure as Zoellner’s Stage Coordinator, he helped in the production of hundreds of events – from lectures to Broadway musicals to some of the best ballets and orchestras in the world. While at Zoellner, James freelanced with many production companies and as a sound and lighting designer. James holds a BS in Telecommunications (video production) with minors in both Theatre and Music from Kutztown University, an MA in Performance from the University of Chichester, and an MFA in Creative Practice from Plymouth University’s Transart Institute.


Artistic Director Beth Thompson | Shelterbelt Theatre | Omaha, NE 

Beth Thompson is a director, actor and has been the Artistic Director of the Shelterbelt Theater in Omaha, Nebraska since 2013. She graduated with a BA in Theater, with a focus in acting and directing, from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2012. Favorite directing credits include Neighbors, Lovers and All the Others, Revelation, The Singularity, In The Jungle You Must Wait, The Other Sewing Circle, Abby In The Summer and Psycho Ex-Girlfriend for the Shelterbelt as well as Tigers Be Still and A Bright New Boise for the Omaha Community Playhouse’s 21& Over reading series. Favorite roles include Nan Carter in Exit, Pursued by a Bear (OCP's 21 & Over), Dale Prist in 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (Shelterbelt), Mom/Ms. Speigel in Dark Play or Stories for Boys (UNO), and Mrs. Hermannson in Eric Hermannson's Soul (Lone Tree Theater Project) which toured to both the Kansas City and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals in 2011. Beth, and her work, has been nominated for both Theater Arts Guild and Omaha Entertainment and Arts awards. She is proud to head the “Before the Boards” reading series, at the Shelterbelt, which presents staged readings of local plays to assist in their development. Her love of storytelling, collaboration and development of new work keep her striving to improve with each new project and learn a little more about herself and the world around her in the process.


Katlynn Yost | Artistic Director | Chimera Ensemble | She/Her/Hers | Chicago, IL

Katlynn Yost is proud to be the Artistic Director of Chimera Ensemble. She is an actor, producer, and arts administrator originally from Nebraska. She has worked with numerous non-profit organizations including: Hearts to Art -- an arts summer camp teaching children who have lost a parent; R.E.S.P.E.C.T. -- an educational touring company seeking to end bullying and raise mental health awareness to kids of all ages; Project Harmony -- an organization seeking to end child abuse and neglect; and Nebraska Shakespeare's Educational Tour, teaching and performing Shakespeare to young people in grades 7-12. Some of her favorite acting credits include: Sister Cities (Chimera Ensemble), 33 Variations and GNIT (Blue Barn Theatre), The Heiress (Brigit Saint Brigit) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, As You Like It, and The Tempest (Nebraska Shakespeare). Katlynn holds a degree in Acting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and is a graduate of The 2015 ACADEMY at Black Box Acting.

In your opinion, is the director suppose to adjust to how actors take direction or is it the actor's job to adjust how the director gives direction?

JP: I think it depends on the circumstance.  If a director is working with an amateur cast than they better be prepared to find out what those performers need to be successful.  That’s not to say a director working with professional performers shouldn’t also be tuned in to what the actors need to succeed, but I think in a professional setting a director when casting can say to performers “this is how I plan on directing this show, can you be down with that”.  All that being said, the question kinda presupposes that a director is a necessary or integral part of the process.  Good actors are some times better off without them. 

BETH: That is a phenomenal question! Mostly, because you would get a different answer from each director you ask. I can only speak to my approach, which is meeting somewhere in the middle. I expect, and in some cases require, a lot from my actors and am clear from the beginning of the process what those exercises are and how they will be utilized to the benefit of the story later on. Actors require different things from you and I do believe a good director will pick up on those signs and direct accordingly. For example, my last show had 14 actors ranging from ages 14-31 with varying levels of experience. Some of the younger actors called for a more reassuring, confidence inspiring and back to basics approach to their character work while the more veteran actors found their voices through exploration and being encouraged to fly freer and give us some choices to work with. I prefer to collaborate on creating characters with my actors as I have cast them for a reason. Something about their artistic expression through this character intrigued me so why would I want to squash their voice with the performance that might have been in my head for a few months. While I hope to cast someone who shares my take, I am often pulled in by an actor who sees another side that I may not have seen and the idea of melding these together excites and inspires me. Actors are artists, not robots. 

KATYLNN: I feel the director and actor(s) need to find a balance between each other. A common language should be found within the first few weeks of rehearsal. Speaking as both an actor and director, I will say each person should be confident in the way they work, should both bring professionalism while also being adaptable to change and play. Ultimately the director is the one with the vision of the world of the play and assumably the experience to be the one leading from off stage - I would hope any actor would be able to adapt and be open to learning from their director. Through my eyes a director is meant to lead, inspire and create. An actor is meant to be inspired, taught and moved to live in a new world the director/playwright has given them.

 Is it important to work with other theater's and why?  

JP: When I was growing up playing music I went through a phase of thinking that I didn’t want to listen to anyone else’s music because it might affect the way I was writing and playing.  In retrospect, that was ridiculous.  Plants can’t grow in a vacuum and neither can creativity.  Creativity needs input from the world around it to ingest and abstract.  Creation comes from finding the relationship between things and having partner theater’s to play with is a great way to get those juices flowing. 

BETH: Yes, it is important to work with other theaters if given the chance. It’s an opportunity for fresh eyes on your work via the designers and audience. While working with the same people creates a shorthand, collaborating with new designer, actors, crew men members allows you to grow in unexpected ways. 

KATLYNN: Oh yes, yes, yes. It’s important to not only know your community and work with them but to gain support from them in any way you can. Co-producing, sharing resources, scripts, artistic’s all one more step in making theater available and open to everyone. There is too much competition in theater, it’s an art centered around love and passion - we should embrace that with each other rather than fight it.

Why do you think theatre is not as predominate in a community as it should be and what can we do it fix that?  

JP: Theatre sometimes strikes me as a somewhat antiquated term.  It feels like something stuck in time.  I prefer to think in terms of performance.  Performance is all around us, it makes up the fabric of our everyday lives.  From lending someone a friendly smile to flipping someone off while we are driving, to holding protest marches, we are constantly in a state of performing and those performances have the ability to change a person’s day just as profoundly as sitting in a darkened auditorium.  We’ve moved into a DIY shorter attention span YouTube culture and theatre as an art form has not evolved along with the zeitgeist.  Art needs to be immediate, accessible and participatory.  Flash mobs, processionals through the streets, random acts of performed beauty in our parks, these are the types of things practitioners need to focus on.  Meeting the people halfway.  The grand facade of theatre has a time and place but it is not the modern every person’s everyday art.  

BETH: Access is the biggest road block, especially in the Midwest where sports is king. Changing the mindset of those who decide what children will have access to is key and I do see it happening but Omaha is very separate from the rest of Nebraska. My sister and her family live in a small town in the north central part of the state and my nephew and niece were cast in a production of Mary Poppins last summer and I was THRILLED. The program that produced the play is amazing and run by 1 woman, a teacher, who dedicates her entire summer to getting this show up. She casts kids from kindergarten through 8th grade and these kids learn so many life skills through their experience. It is women like this that are keeping the arts alive in small rural communities and sparking interest in kids. Women like this are my heroes. 

KATLYNN: I wonder this question quite a bit. Sometimes I think it’s because movies and jaw dropping cinema has taken away the appeal of live theater. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because this is an oversaturated market (at least here in Chicago) and you can only afford to subscribe or commit to one or two theaters when you have over 300 to choose from. But what I like to believe is that going to the theater is scarier - you have to go and actually watch people be vulnerable on stage. Mistake might happen, an intimate scene might happen 3 feet away from you, you might get hit with fake blood, you may be the only person in 100 seat house that laughs at a line. This is all scary and can make anyone uncomfortable. This is one thing I love about theater. It excites me -but it may push some less risky audiences away. I think our goal should be to keep finding work that excites those hard core community members and hope that the rest of the community joins in on the fun.

What is your vision for your theatre?  

JP: I hope that any piece of art I create, allows people to connect to the beauty in life.  I want joyous celebrations, I literally want people singing and dancing in the streets.  This is how I believe a community grows closer and flourishes.  That’s what’s important to me!  You don’t get that by sitting through three hours of Harold Pinter.

BETH: To find a new home!!! We are on hiatus at the moment but I am working on a few projects that can be done in found spaces. We focus on local new work so the vision is always to facilitate in these voices in being heard. 

KATYLNN: My vision is to keep expanding on our mission, and finding out true selves within it - which is ultimately the good in us while asking scary questions. We don’t have a certain ‘type’ of play we produce, but we do have a mission to make our theater accessible for all and to give back to our community of Chicago for every production. So, first and foremost we make sure we provide services for folks who are hard of hearing or deaf for every single performance by offering Open Captioning during each of our shows. We also offer Touch Tour and Audio Description for folks who are Blind/Low Vision. I’m researching into adding Sensory Friendly Programming for folks and young people who are on the spectrum and want to incorporate more ASL performances into our shows. I want to truly immerse myself in this learning experience. I want everyone to be able to experience theater no matter what their abilities are. We are making small, but ambitious steps each show we produce to ensure we are always improving on this mission.

We partner with an Chicago non-profit organization for every show we do and with each partnership we increase our level of involvement and fundraising for it. It’s important to me we know the community around us, even if it’s not theater or arts based. We just partnered with Project Exploration - a non profit that teaches STEM education to underserved kids in Chicago. It was amazing to see how integrating the science and art of theater was to their curriculum. We’ve had partnerships with 8 different organizations over the 3 years we’ve been a company. Our goal is to raise awareness to their mission and better ourselves by volunteering..

As we are currently closing our final show of the season, I’m starting to think about next season, and where I want this company to go. I know I want to keep expanding on our mission but I also want to share a piece of myself a bit better this go around. I want to just say ‘fuck it’ to the scripts that scare me to produce and go for it. I want to stand behind every piece I fall in love with and I want to work even harder to represent the artistry inside me. I’m not sure what scripts lie in wake for that but I’m ready to find out.

Our company is small. There 5 people who do a main chunk of the work. We all have full time jobs outside of this. It can be easy to lose track and sight of what kind of art we want to produce. I want to gain better clarity of my vision to inspire not only my company, but my community and myself. ---Inspiring, scary, beautiful work. That sounds nice.

What excites you about theatre right now?  

JP: Anywhere I see a resurgence in the carnivalesque.

BETH: The focus on diversity and TRUE diversity. It is exciting to see more writers of color being produced; directors, designers of color being hired and actors of color telling their own stories. In Omaha, The Union for Contemporary Art Performing Arts program is doing ground breaking work within the African American community led by Denise Chapman. Check out their website:

KATYLNN: I see so much more self produced work which is exciting. In a city like Chicago you are a small fish in a huge pond - it’s incredibly hard (and expensive) to get seen and/or even get representation to help get seen. So this community was like “no, that’s not good enough. I will make my own art and put myself in it,” It’s a huge base for many successful artists in Chicago right now. It’s inspiring because as a producer, I know it’s hard work, it’s your own money, and it’s a lot of your time and it can be isolating at times. It deserves respect. It’s risky - risky theater is all over the place right now and that is also exciting. I’m seeing things I never would’ve guessed someone had the courage to produce. Again, It’s inspiring, scary and beautiful.

Best piece of advice you have ever received in regards to Directing?  

JP: “You should cut that scene."

BETH: Two things: 1. Be very particular in your casting; cast a show well and half the battle is won. 2. Actors are not robots so don't try to program what is in your head into their bodies. Allow them to bring what you hired them to bring and work together to create the character. In the end, you will both have learned something and they will take ownership of their character in a much more productive way. 

KATLYNN: Table talk can kill the process. As actors, we all have different characters to navigate, when we start the process with table talk it can not only kill momentum of creative workflow but it can also impair other actor’s thoughts on their own characters. Who are we to judge other actor’s view of this world they live in?

How can you make something that is unfamiliar familiar? How do you make an audience feel or relate to the subject matter that they aren't familiar with? How do you get people interested in something unfamiliar?

JP: Simplicity and metaphor.  There’s no point in being overly clever if people aren’t going to be able to understand what you're trying to say. You need to explain things to people in terms that they understand and tie those thoughts to something that they have an emotional investment in.  

BETH: You have to find the common ground. Why did the playwright write this? Why did they spend months/years/decades creating these characters around this story? They had a purpose and my job as the director is to get at that heart and find what every person in the room has in common. I directed SHE KILLS MONSTERS for the Omaha Community Playhouse last fall and for me, the common ground was understanding the connection between the sisters, Tilly and Agnes, and what one does when that connection is lost. Everyone has someone in their life that has left them in one way or another. We tapped into that. Invest in the heart and all of the fighting, fucking and funny will deepen. 

What makes a good script?  

JP: I’m delighted when I see scripts that have clever recalls to things earlier in the writing.  When the unexpected wraps around at the end.  The writers on the old HBO series Mr. Show with Bob and David were geniuses at this.  I strive to emulate the brilliance of their technique every time I work on Touchstone’s Christmas City Follies.

BETH: Oooofffff...Art is subjective so this is tricky. For me, there has to be a compelling story that is begging to be heard. With new work, I don't expect it to be polished, hell sometimes it isn't even finished but if the idea is solid I am willing to put the work in. 

KATLYNN: In my opinion a good script has at least one thing any person can relate to, even if it’s only relating to the  way the characters speak to each other. The last thing theater should be is exclusive in their topics and content matter. We should work to find scripts that are inclusive and expansive on content. However, it’s obvious that not everyone is going to relate to everything - but I find there is always something in a good script - that special tinge of something that hits you somewhere as you’re reading or seeing it that makes you go “wow, I get that.” or “huh, I never knew that.”. If I’m reading a script that doesn’t cause some sort of internal or external reaction, I don’t conconsider it a good script. And normally these reactions are caused by things that we familiarize with or even things we are unfamiliar with...So, basically this whole rant is saying if a script is good (and unfamiliar) it should be relatable in some way to an audience. Scripts are people living in this world in some way. They may be different than you, doing different things but at the end of the day we are all people...

How does personal bias influence how you read a script?  

JP: Being that my job is focused around the creation of original work, I rarely sit around considering scripts.  My script reading happens in development when I need to give feedback to in-house writers.  In this case, I try to leave my personal bias out as much as I can to assure that any feedback I’m offering my partners is helpful in them solidifying their own voice and intentions.  Outside of that, the act of reading a script is 100% steeped in my own bias.

BETH: It seeps in no matter how hard you may try to stay objective but I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing. I receive scripts from friends who are simply looking for my first glance reaction to something they are working on. I believe they find this helpful as I, and any others they share their early drafts with, act as the audience who will, most likely, only see their show once so that first impression is important. What is inspiring? What is rubbing me the wrong way? Why? Why? Why? 

What life skills can we learn from theatre?  

JP: Theatre is inherently collaborative.  If there was one thing that we can and should take away from the theatre, it is learning to work as a group.   

BETH: Collaboration, Discipline, time management, patience, learning to build new skills off of ones already established

KATLYNN: How to speak to each other. How to take risks. Every day since we are young we are trained to cover up our our inner feelings or tone them down to fit better in society. We can be led by fear rather than courage. In the state our world is in today, it’s so important to learn from theatre. It’s a place where courage and passion live. A place to escape, to belong, to imagine, to create, to love, to debate, to make connections. We need all of these things as humans and I wish more humans would come experience this.

 Does theatre have boundaries and should it?  

JP: The boundary is when it ceases to be theatre and becomes something else.  But it is such a broad thing, from politics to the workplace, performance is everywhere.  We can’t escape it.  We just need to be aware that what we are seeing and experiencing is to some degree always fabricated, and we have to know how to sort through those things to find the truth.  The art form has been used to heal deep wounds as well as commit some of the greatest atrocities in the history of civilization.  From Live Aid to Nazi Rallies.  We are constantly watching and there is always someone performing.

BETH: Concerning subject matter: No. Concerning safety and a sense of security for the actors? Yes. Concerning safety for audiences? Yes. Concerning a sense of security for the audience? Hmmmmm....Yes and No :) Pushing back on people's preconceived notions through theater is exciting but must have purpose. Shock simply for shock value is boring. 

KATLYNN: Hmmm.. this is a difficult question. I think that theater is a place where you should ask difficult questions and challenge boundaries for sure. But, there are times when I’ve seen theater recently where I’ve felt unsafe as an audience member and I don’t think that is a good thing. So, it poses another question - how far can we push boundaries? All aspects of art center around life - my personal view of  life centers around empathy, compassion - with that, navigating fear and trauma through both metamorphic and real life experiences. My boundaries are vastly different than someone else’s. How do I push boundaries as a creator, but also respect everyone’s personal boundaries? I’m still figuring it out...

How is creating art different from observing it?  

JP: One is simpler but they are both sometimes painful.

BETH: This is a great question! I have found that, since making art, I appreciate the work that went into something even if I don't love the end product. I wish that audiences had more of a connection with the process rather than simply seeing the result of that work. Marketing and social media has the opportunity to show "behind the scenes" moments that are hoping to get audiences excited for shows much in the way that movie trailers can.  On a deeper level, as an artist the main difference is putting a piece of yourself out there versus absorbing someone else's perspective. It is the personal versus the observational; both have their lessons to teach and abilities to inspire. 

KATLYNN: Woof!! What a question. I love both of these things but, I feel creating it has actually changed the way I observe it (and not in a good way). I’ve created a standard or expectation in my head of what I want to create, what I want to see, and what I feel should be created...this is not a good view to go into another person’s creation with. It takes a strong will and mind to go into observation of outside art with a clean and open mind. With creating there is a freedom to be able to do what your heart is pushing you do to. Even though it instills an incredible amount of fear and vulnerability, it gives a sense of belonging before you crave it. You made it -it’s yours. With observing, you get to see someone else’s interpretation of the world. It may not be your own, but that is beautiful too. For me, the hard part is putting judgement away and enjoying what I observe.

How realistic should a production look?  

JP: Depends on the production.

BETH: It depends on what the production calls for but for me the acting has to come from a real place or it is hard for me to connect. Farce needs elements of real moments for the jokes to truly land; if it's all hijinks's I am bored. Laughter comes from pain so dig deeper and it will pay off. Some productions require imagination from the audience, which I love, but not all audience members want to work that hard and that is fair. It can also backfire when a production requires magical elements but the production team wants to ground it in realism; both artists and patrons need to open their minds a bit more for these pieces which can hinder their ability to get produced. 

KATLYNN: This is totally dependent on the theater’s style. I personally love realism - I like seeing real props, set dressings, real people doing everyday things but I also love seeing spectacle and avant garde theatre. I love seeing different interpretations of what ‘real life’ is. Keep making me question what is real and I will eat it up.

How does technology influence theatre production?

JP: I love low-fi street theatre.  People face-to-face interacting.  But, I also love me some big tech.  While in college I was working at the school’s large auditorium where the guest artists performed and my boss there was once the Lighting Designer for the band KISS.  He had this saying, for when all tech elements came together in a moment of perfection with the performance.  He used to whisper into the clear-com system “BFT, gentlemen, BFT”.  "Big Fuckin’ Theatre" became a personal mantra for me when dealing with tech.  Something to strive for.  As a director, I feel lucky to have a solid background in all things tech.  Having even a small mastery of these elements allows you to communicate with your designers about the magic moments you want to create during the performance.  I could go down the rabbit hole of discussing Arduino systems, Max, Qlab and exciting future of tech, but I’ll leave it at BFT.    

BETH: They complete the world in which the story lives. Everything comes together once the technical elements are added and the story becomes more clear. A monster becomes a monster, a sword in the hand can transform the way an actor approaches fight scenes and good lighting can create an atmosphere like no amount of good acting ever could. 

KATLYNN: Now a days it can influence greatly. I want to incorporate more technology into my theater company because frankly, it’s the world we are living in right now. But I also enjoy the simplicity of a bare bones production. Technology can makes waves in portraying a vision in a production but it can also alter it if not done right. It depends on script and the director’s vision of the world they want to share. I’m a fan of a show with heavy tech and a show with no tech. All is beautiful and none should be considered less than if they don’t have high tech elements included.

How do technical elements influence actors?  

JP: At their best, they are invisible to actors.  At their worst, they are a show-ruining distraction, pulling the actors out of the moment.

BETH: It changes the way they approach the material and the way in which they see their character. The whole world we have spent weeks living in and trying to imagine comes alive and a certain confidence grows; it's the most magical time for me. 

KATLYNN: Again, I think this all depends on the script and direction. With certain shows it can influence greatly, I’m currently in a show where there are ‘space moments’ - a moment that is driven by emotion but expressed through technical elements. They don’t read if there aren’t technical elements to drive the actors into them. But there shows that simply take place on a much tech do you need on this? A simple warm lighting device would suffice a sunset -nothing complicated to suggest the sun is rising. Also, as an actor I do a majority of my work before tech is even in the conversation so while it can influence later on in the process, it shouldn’t be something we rely on.

About Touchstone Theatre: Founded in 1981, Touchstone Theatre is a professional not-for-profit theatre dedicated to the creation of original work.  At its center is a resident ensemble of theatre artists rooted in the local community of Bethlehem, the Greater Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and the international community of Ensemble Theatres. The Ensemble: 1. Creates original theatre and re-imagines select texts through a heightened theatrical vocabulary. 2. Tours and presents original and ensemble-created works. 3. Offers educational programs that: – Inspire students of any age to discover their unique creative voice. – Provide high quality training to the next generation of theatre artists. 4. Transforms audiences through community-based theatrical productions and community-building projects.

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About Shelterbelt Theatre: Shelterbelt Theatre is Omaha's home for new plays.  Our mission is to provide a safe and nurturing environment in which to focus the development of original work and to provide for the practical education of writers, performing artists, creative and technical staff, and the general public in the art and science of moving an idea from the mind to the stage.  The objective of the Shelterbelt Theater is to develop, workshop and produce new works by local and national playwrights. We love to present world premiere work that engages and inspires our audience. We are rooted in the belief that theater can make a difference and change the world, no matter how big the stage.We have a diverse reading committee dedicated to finding scripts that fulfill our mission, and inspire and entertain our audience. We host an annual reading series, Before the Boards with four slots that offer local playwrights an opportunity to hear their play in front of a live audience in a staged reading, before it hits a full production.  From one-acts to slam poetry, imagination is the only limit.

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 Chimera Ensemble: Mission Statement: To create a quality innovative theatrical platform. To give back to Chicago organizations that advocate for the betterment of our community. To provide accessibility for all people. Above all, we seek out the good; we question our fears and judgments so that others may question theirs.

Vision: We are unapologetic explorers navigating stories about hope when there is no hope, about levity when it hurts to laugh, about love when it seems damn near impossible. We fight for necessary truths with uninhibited grit.

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Sustain the Ability

Let's talk sustainability. A hot topic that has been growing more and more of interest throughout the rumblings of the universe.

DIBS was able to reach out to Stephanie from Conscious Food Project in Meadville, Pennsylvania and Dr. Karen Eisenhart an Academic Advisor and Associate Professor of the Geosciences Department at Edinboro University,  whom live a fairly sustainable lifestyle and touch the surface of sustainability, what it means and even go a little deeper into the subject.

Please introduce yourself and talk about what it is exactly that you do. 

STEPHANIE: My name is Stephanie Thauer, I am a mom first and foremost. I take that job very seriously, I strive to raise a consciously evolved human who understands their connection to everything they touch, and ingest. I think it's important to raise an aware person. I am also the owner/producer of Conscious Food Project @Raintree Farms. Conscious Food Project was created with the idea of being more sustainable from the inside out, from the food we eat to how we walk this earth and our connection to it.

Conscious Food Project helps people retake control of the food they consume and how we as a whole use and produce waste. I offer nutrient dense food mixes and reusable eco-friendly products that help people reduce their plastic output. I also teach basic wellness classes and classes on how to live more waste-free. I am an earth advocate, food advocate, and striver of self-balance and accordance with all around me. On the farm/home front, we recently added solar panels and are now producing our own energy, which is very exciting for us. We also have a bit of a blueberry patch (140 bushes) and a bunch of bees. Every year we work to plant trees on land that was used for mass agg for many years. We grow and store food, and plant lots of assorted trees. We also participate in our local farmer’s markets with what we produce.

KAREN: I am Karen Eisenhart a College Professor and Enviornmentalist. I teach courses on topics of Earth Sciences, Conservation of Natural Resources, and Environmental Issues. I try to practice what I teach.  I practice conservation in my house, in my yard and garden, in the way that I live, shop, and consume. I have been thinking about the environment for more than thirty years.

What does it mean to live a sustainable life? What does it mean to you? What does it mean to a community?

STEPHANIE: To ultimately leave an as little footprint as possible. To live cohesive with nature, keeping balance not throwing it out of whack.  Being in control of how and what we eat, grow, how we live, produce, consume and our impact and awareness of how we are all connected. Only use what you need and give back as much as we can.

For the community, I would love to see small shops or farms in every local town, where people grew/raised/produced all goods locally and shopped/created relationships for those goods. Working together towards a common goal of not having to go outside of ourselves while living harmoniously with nature.

KAREN: I read somewhere (but can’t recall the source) that to be “sustainable” is not enough.  We truly need to be “regenerative” in the sense that we allow natural systems to recover and generate more abundance than we take from the system.

I am not sure that the world can become sustainable without major changes to long-entrenched systems of economics, governments, industry, development, and so on.  I fear that we would need a change in everything…truly a revolution.  Many powerful people have a lot to lose if we change the existing systems, and therefore they resist change.

For a community, I think if a community really embraces sustainability it can bring quite a lot of benefit.  Supporting the local environment connects people to their place and to their neighbors.  It can start to make you see things in a different way than you did before.  Greater care for the local environment and for one’s neighbors encourages people to support their neighbors and their local businesses and food producers, which can greatly benefit the local economy and keep more dollars circulating in the local region.  However, it comes at some costs, too.  People must be willing sometimes to pay a bit (or sometimes a lot) more for a product or service produced locally because small businesses do not enjoy same tax breaks and subsidies as large businesses and corporations, and do not have the ‘economies of scale’ that allows things that are mass-produced to be cheaper.  Another cost is convenience.  The things that benefit the community or your family may sometimes take longer, and more planning.  “Care” for those around you can be ‘inconvenient’ in terms of time and effort.  For example, think of the time it takes to make a meal from scratch as opposed to buying ready-made or from a restaurant. 

Greater care and involvement in the local environment may cause people to be more involved in local government, too, which can increase civic connection and activity in local government.  This is a very good thing and should appeal to people of different political views.  When people with different views come together for a common cause they meet each other and learn to be more tolerant of one another.  They are often willing to consider things from another viewpoint and find ways to compromise and work toward a larger, shared vision.  This allows us to move away from caricatures and stereotypes of other groups and to see them for who they are and to try to understand their legitimate concerns and how we can work together to seek solutions that benefit everyone.

Why is it important to gear more towards a sustainable life?

STEPHANIE: Because as a society we consume too much. There is a great imbalance in what we take, consume, and the waste we create to what nature is able to cope with. We as a society are not being accountable for the mess we have created. If every person focused on not eating out of a package the effects on every level would be huge.

KAREN: There are so many reasons!  I think that it is the ethical thing to do.  Humans share the planet with so many other species…or rather we SHOULD share the planet.  In reality, we (humans) tend to take everything for ourselves without thinking about the consequences.

One of the heartbreaking things about caring so much for the natural world is to see resources depleted or degraded for things that don’t really bring much emotional or other benefits to people.  Every day the mail carrier brings me junk mail, which goes straight from the mailbox to the shredder.  The government subsidizes this junk mail by offering cheap postal rates, which subsidize the whole postal system.  If Americans want a government-supported postal system it has to be subsidized in some way, yet when I think of all the raw materials, energy resources, and so on that go into making the paper and materials used to prepare the advertisements and the energy and effort to sort it and deliver it to every house and every PO Box, I can’t but think how wasteful that is of natural resources.  This is only one example out of millions of daily examples of wasted resources.  Another example is all of the raw materials and energy that go into packaging.  It is very hard to purchase anything in America without also purchasing the packaging.

Over the decades, all of this waste has been snuck into society and Americans have been conditioned to accept it without question.  Unless someone says to specifically think about all the packaging waste, most people never even consider it.  And more and more of it is made from plastics, with the effect that plastics are ending up everywhere and impacting food webs in all kinds of marine and aquatic ecosystems.  It is so sad that the bulk of plastic waste comes from single-use items that are sometimes not even used once before they enter the waste stream.  It ultimately is coming back to impact and harm us.  It harms many of the beings that share our planet. 

Once you start to recognize these things and take it upon yourself to examine your life and to gradually seek ways to reduce your personal waste stream you become increasingly more aware of your connection to the natural world and the impact of society upon it.  You may seek out hobbies and maybe even livelihoods that are more supportive of the environment and your community, which can bring more personal satisfaction to you that can lead to a more peaceful existence.  People thrive when they do things that they enjoy, that exercise their creativity and intellect.  Thus, a more sustainable life may encourage greater physical health through a better diet and more physical activity, but it can also bring about greater emotional health and spirituality (defined very broadly), which may also support a person’s total health and well-being. Working with your family and your neighbors to facilitate and maintain community sustainability (re)connects us to other people and builds social networks that appear to support the mental and emotional health of individuals.  And shopping in your local community, especially buying products and services made/completed by local people supports the local economy, which brings greater financial stability to your local economy, which can bring more revenue to your local government, and so on.

Thus, when the majority of people in a community are striving toward sustainable living it can bring about better health and welfare for individuals and families, local governments, local-to-regional economies, and regional-to-global environments.  I mention regional-to-global environments because when you try to source more of the things you eat and need regionally you reduce the demand on materials from other places, theoretically concentrating your ecological footprint.  Making less waste, and also depending on products that can be readily assimilated by the Earth (i.e., organic fertilizers and pest control methods in food and fiber production) improves the environment.  To the extent food and other materials can be produced locally supports the local economy, also improving the local tax base so that the community can develop local solutions to turn biodegradable waste into a resource.  For example, a community can turn yard and kitchen wastes into household or community compost that can be returned to the soil to support more productivity and biodiversity, build soils, sequester carbon, reduce stormwater runoff, create spaces for children and families to recreate and prosper, and so on.  For a community to do these things reconnects them to the natural cycles, and demonstrates to children how natural cycles work and emphasizes the value of natural systems and cycles.

 What are the different aspects of sustainability? 

STEPHANIE: Growing food, storing food, conserving energy, environmental, livelihood.

KAREN: Commonly used definition of sustainability comes from UN Conventions, and typically discuss environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and social and economic justice.

There is a lot of emphasis on what an individual can do, but rectifying the largest impacts on the environment will likely involve government policy changes.  Major sectors of the economy produce a lot of impact. Some of these sectors are out of control of the individual: agriculture; transportation; industry; energy generation.

But it's still important for individuals to do what they can and start where they are. Examining one’s personal impact and making lifestyle changes brings increasingly greater awareness of what is going outside of one’s household.  Small actions that don’t make a big difference in the community can start to make a “newbie” aware of their behaviors.  When you change something small, sometimes you start to see more things you could change with little effort. 

Consumers have great power when they decide to collectively exercise different behaviors. Look at the campaign to get rid of plastic straws and the impact it is having on large franchises such as Starbucks.  In America, we definitely can ‘vote with our dollars’.  When we get the attention of big business we also get the attention of big government.

Another quote I have heard that I really like (but do not know the original source) is “when you change the way that you look at things, the things that you look at change.”  Changing the way we look at things is a very important aspect of sustainability.  We need to examine and question our values.  Do our actions and lifestyles support what we think is most valuable?

Besides sustainability being about ecological balance and conservation, what else does it mean?

STEPHANIE: Self-sufficient, self-reliant, not relying on a system that really doesn't care about each other.

KAREN: I don’t think sustainability is about balance.  I think its more about resilience.  How do we behave and use resources to allow natural systems the continued capacity for regeneration?

‘Balance of nature’ is an older idea.  It's useful, but incorrect.  It comes from a time when scientists believed there was stability to nature.  In reality, the disturbance is a very important part of nature.  All natural systems have evolved over time to be resilient to certain kinds of disturbances that occurred within a range of sizes and severities. For example, in the eastern USA, forests periodically experience hurricane damage.  Southern coastal forests experience greater severity more frequently, whereas inland and more northerly forests experience high severity hurricane disturbance less frequently.  Yet, following these disturbances forest were able to recover. The recovered forest may not have looked exactly as the disturbed one did, but the ecosystem was resilient in the sense that the biological material was there to re-establish a similar type of ecosystem that would provide similar types of habitats for a similar biological community of birds, mammals, insects, microorganisms, fungi, and so on.  This led to patches that were newly recovering, older patches, and very old age patches.  But sooner all later disturbance would impact a patch and “reset” recovery to time zero.

One of the major impacts of humans on ecosystems is that we have tended to greatly simplify them.  We have caused a decline in biodiversity, with fewer kinds of species, fewer numbers of individuals in each remaining population and therefore lower genetic diversity, fewer types of habitat, and so on.  This simplification has made many ecosystems more fragile and susceptible to catastrophes that are outside of the historical range of variability for size and severity.  The ultimate simplification is the vast fields of monoculture we see in conventional agricultural systems (which is a man-made type of ecosystem). 

Monoculture means only one species and variety of plant; think corn field or soybean field.  To grow a high yield of a single crop in this way vastly reduces the biodiversity in this highly simplified ecosystem, which invites insect pests that like this particular crop. To keep the pests from destroying the crop, conventional farmers use synthetic chemicals that also can kill non-target species.  Destroying non-target insects that maybe would feed some kinds of birds will eliminate those birds from the system because they won’t nest where they can’t find food.  In this sense, I guess you could say that the system has been greatly “unbalanced” because it is held in this artificial state through chemicals and fossil fuels.  Over time, the ecosystem will become less productive, requiring more artificial inputs to support the desired yield.

Do you think there are enough awareness and information on sustainability? Do you think it's talked about enough through the media, in a community? I know that there are some people that are aware of it and parts of the world that practice sustainability. Where do you think the lack of sustainable awareness is?

STEPHANIE: No, there is never enough information. I think people’s scope can be very limited when viewing sustainability. It’s in everything we touch.  

KAREN: I do not think there is enough awareness.  I think there is a lot of “eye rolling” among people who think it’s a fad when it is brought up by someone interested in a more sustainable society.  I think many in the media who are left to present it to the masses don’t understand it.  They present it in small ways and sound bites that diminishes the importance of it.  They like to present it in sensational ways that make supporters look ridiculous.  Look at what they do to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  She has put forth bold suggestions.  It may be that some of what she proposes is not possible (or maybe not desired), but instead of saying that some of this is good and right and some of this won’t work, they denigrate the whole suggestion and then they denigrate her by saying she is too young and naïve and doesn’t understand things or know what she is talking about.  Outrage sells newspapers, I guess.  So instead of having a productive national dialogue about the actual merits of suggestions for protecting against and adapting to human-caused climate change impacts, we get a media circus.

I think that the Western world doesn’t have the right value system to shift enough in the appropriate direction.   Money and building wealth at the expense of the environment and even of other groups of people is given a lot of emphases.  If you ask someone what it means to be successful, most people would probably answer in material terms.

 What are some ways to teach sustainability in schools?

 STEPHANIE: Teach children to grow, cook, and store their own foods, how to shop locally (farmer's markets), sustain the local economy, manage consumer output completely.  

KAREN: I wish it were possible to teach these values through direct experience.  You can capture someone’s imagination in a classroom, but if you really want their hearts and minds you have to take them out into nature.  They need to put their hands in the soil, turn over rocks, grow things.

I guess one thing would be for the school itself to practice sustainability: sustainable landscaping and gardens where students grow food and other things; how they purchase supplies; energy efficient buildings; running their school bus fleet on biodiesel; etc.  These things would complement a curriculum that integrated sustainability.  But it would also be expensive and we are in a period of time right now in America where some powerful groups of people do not feel it is a natural priority to support education; some of these groups have a narrow of idea of what should be taught in schools, and would probably consider everything I mentioned in this paragraph to be a waste of resources.  That’s because they think that education should pay for itself and spending money on these things is not economically efficient.

Maybe we need a revolution in the educational system.What are kids learning?Are these important things?Is the current system effective in educating kids in the areas that are important for them to be successful

 Does being successfully sustainable depend on where you live geographically?

STEPHANIE: Not necessarily, it depends on the person/family and how they prioritize their "needs". It takes time to cultivate food but the cost is minimal.

KAREN: I think geography can make a difference.  Climate is probably one of the most important physical geography factors that impact opportunities for sustainability.  In the southern US, you can get by without winter heat, depending on your type of dwelling and how it was constructed.  You definitely need winter heat where I live!

The society that you live in and the government can also make an impact.  Some countries make it easier to live more softly on the Earth.  In other countries, it is more of a challenge.  It is a challenge to live sustainably in the US regardless of your income level.  It’s hard to go to the store here and be able to buy anything not wrapped in plastic.  It’s hard to find things that were not mass-produced using fossil fuel for energy.  In the northern states, it’s hard to heat your house without fossil fuels.  The alternatives don’t exist or are too expensive or too difficult for most people.  Community ordinances may make it challenging to build an energy efficient house because they follow national building codes designed to be “one size fits all”.  If the local government does not include elected or appointed officials with progressive interests you tend to find that they are not very open to trying out something different.

Is sustainability more so buying products that are sustainable or is it more so an individual creating their own sustainable products or is it learning to live without certain products? 

STEPHANIE: I think it's a combination of all three, more so the latter two. Being sustainable takes time to do the work, to make the things you need rather than run to a store and buy it or have a shopping list that not only contains the most nutrient dense food but to take as little plastic packaging home. I do think we need to reevaluate the way we buy and consumer products. It helps to have like-minded people to work with and trade goods.

KAREN: I think it involves a lot of simplification of one’s lifestyle.  It certainly requires doing more for yourself and getting away from convenience.

I had a roommate a while back who would spend a lot of money on organic food.  But a lot of it came in plastic packaging and therefore generated a lot of waste.  At the same time, I was trying to drastically reduce my packaging and waste.  I carried cloth produce bags to the market to bring home bell peppers.  She bought a 3-pack of organic bell peppers on a piece of Styrofoam wrapped in plastic cling wrap that was imported to the US from Holland.  Now, what is actually organic about plastic-wrapped produce shipped from Holland?  It's not like they don’t grow peppers in the U.S.!  My roommate was very interested in conservation topics and environmental issues but wasn’t ready to stop trying to shop her way toward sustainability.  For myself, I had to struggle with whether it was better to buy a conventionally raised pepper without packaging or an organically grown pepper picked before its peak, shipped across the ocean, and wrapped in synthetic, nonbiodegradable materials.  I opted for the local pepper.

I go to a local food co-op for dry goods.  I take my own jars and fill them from the bulk bins.  But how did the bulk bins get full?  Food that came in packaging was dumped into the bins!  If you don’t grow it yourself you contribute to the pattern of waste!!

Mainly for someone in a more urban setting who doesn't have access to land, how can they live sustainably? 

STEPHANIE: Urban food access is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I think a great way to reach people and get them involved in creating food is community gardens. Maybe something where people can go and put in the time and that equates to shares of food. More time=more food. I think the more people get their hands into the dirt the less intimidating it is. Education has to go hand in hand with fresh food. It’s like we have to relearn to cook when moving away from packaged/processed foods. It’s a very empowering feeling when you can grow your own food. There is a shift that happens when people connect to fresh food. I personally would love to see bulk foods made more readily available in urban settings, along with the education. Bulk could equal better food quality and less packaging waste. 

Also, does sustainability divide classes/races because it is not as accessible for certain cultural groups or geographic locations?

STEPHANIE: It doesn’t have to, but it probably does. I do think sustainability does change a bit depending on where you are. I do think having commercial community kitchen space in community centers available to members of the community would be an asset regardless of the location of the said community.  It could facilitate a place of education, people working together to prepare food to store, give people a greater sense of well-being and purpose.  It may also generate income for people. 

 Can living sustainably save money?

 STEPHANIE: Yes, renewable energy, gardens, and fruit trees, supporting your local farmer's market, storing food, the list goes on.

KAREN: I think it can, but you have to work at it.  You can buy high-quality food in its raw form.  You have to prepare it, though, which makes it less convenient.  When you buy more convenience products you trade your money for time.  The prepared foods often cost more than the raw ingredients.  You can buy produce in its harvest season when it is at its peak flavor, abundant, and often less expensive. But then you need to process it in some way to preserve it for use in other seasons.  That takes time and also requires some knowledge and skills.

Certainly using less energy is more sustainable.  You might have to spend a chunk of money now to be able to use less energy over the long term.  For example, I saved my money and bought an expensive high-spin front-load washer.  It cost nearly $1000.  It has high water-use efficiency and spins at a high speed which drives the water out of the laundry.  I only needed to shake out my clothes at the end of the wash cycle, put them on hangers, and hang them on a rack to air dry the rest of the way.  They are dried within a day, often faster.  I didn’t need to buy an electric dryer, so I didn’t have that expense and I don’t need to use electricity to run the dryer every week.

A number of times in my life I have lived without a car in small towns of America.  There are some challenges to it.  But if you can manage to live close enough to work that you walk or bike, and have access to food stores and other places you want to shop or hang out, then it is cheaper in the long run and also saves energy.  Plus, walking is free and great for your health and for stress management.  It’s easier to live without a car in an urban area that has forms of public transportation.

Do you think people are not catching on to being sustainable because it's not something convenient or accessible and requires more work?

STEPHANIE: The consumerist society is not designed so that people can have time other than consuming.  Most people want things that are quick and easy, sustainability takes work, time, and dedication.

KAREN: People do want quick and easy.  I think it has to do with values and learned behaviors.  People growing up in today’s America have lived with convenience all their lives.  We are trained from a young age to be consumers.  So we are good at shopping, at buying things.  The society here places a lot of value on income and wealth.  Instead of having a smaller house with a smaller carbon-footprint, people want a giant house.  They want every one of their kids to have their own bedroom and bathroom, and a giant kitchen, and a three-car garage.  Think of the size of the garden you could plant in the excess space taken up by that giant house!!

Another aspect is peoples disconnect with nature.  They may jog in the park or go skiing, but many people are not ever really IN nature.  They can’t identify common plants or birds or trees.  They can’t cope with flying insects. They may not know the names of their local streams or be able to identify local places where they could hike.

Do you think sustainability could solve global and local problems such as poverty, hunger, climate change, and violence?

 STEPHANIE: Absolutely! If people are able to grow and cultivate their food or produce their own electricity, then why would they need to steal to get money to buy food. Not only that when you eat well you feel good, when you feel good you do good. It's a ripple effect.

KAREN: I have been looking with interest at the Green New Deal that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced into Congress.  A green deal emphasizes social and economic equity along with environmental equity.

I have addressed this question in other parts of the interview.

In your opinion, why is it hard for individuals or society to suddenly change their habits and their lifestyles? Even after all the evidence people still have a hard time wanting to change or care to change. Why do you think that is?

STEPHANIE: People have to want to change. Nobody likes to admit that they aren't doing something to the best of their ability. When you actually commit to doing your best all the time, it is a lot of work. Also, the way things are structured makes it extremely difficult. How do you get people to consume without any kind of plastic wrapping? Because really that's what clean eating and producing minimal waste comes down to. People would have a very hard time because of the way industry is structured, it's not structured to keep people healthy, it's designed to make deep pockets full.   It takes work. It's easier for people to throw away and buy new then to reuse and repurpose. I think education and communication are important. There is a certain “re-wiring” that goes along with all of this. A re-structure.

KAREN: We could radically change every aspect of society – culture and behaviors, economic systems, political systems – but there is no guarantee of sustainability.  It would generate a lot of turmoil for an uncertain end. Maybe it’s because the people in power would have too much to lose.  They won’t let it happen.  They spend lots of money to spread disinformation and keep things as they are.

On a personal level, it can be very hard to change even if you want to. It is hard to overcome convenience.  Convenience products and appliances were invented because it was hard when everything had to be done by hand.  I have heard statistics about the time and physical labor it took women to do the laundry before the invention of the washing machine.  You would have to set a whole day aside to do the laundry!  That is very hard to do when have to work outside of your house.  I don’t think many people would be willing to give up their washing machine. 

A culture of work where everyone works 8+ hours per day at least 5 days of the week is not conducive to the planning and work required to do most everything for yourself. Yet you have to have an income in our society to survive. 


Cartoonist, Writer, Musician Jeff Koterba

JEFF KOTERBA is a cartoonist, writer, musician, and creativity advocate. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and during the summer before his senior year of high school, he was struck by lightning. Instead of taking him to the hospital, his dad gave him a shot of Jack Daniels.

You have always known you wanted to be a cartoonist. What was it about cartoons that you were drawn to?

For me, growing up in a chaotic household filled with broken TVs and junk, and considering all the noise from those TVs and family arguments, a blank sheet of paper represented a clean start, an escape. I actually dreamed of living on the ceiling—talk about a space for a mural!—but alas, I couldn’t overcome gravity.

Do you have any formal training or are your self taught?

It’s a mix. All along I had teachers encouraging me. I studied art pretty seriously in high school and college, although I have yet to finish my degree. But I’m also self-taught. When I was starting I sought out mentors, always asking for advice. I also lost a lot of sleep staying up practicing, just trying to get better.

It also bugs me a bit when people on Instagram say they are “self-taught” artists. Even if you have a formal education, I would certainly hope they are also self-taught but by saying that in an Instagram profile seems to diminish the person’s own work.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Everywhere and anywhere. It can be from keeping up with the news, but also from overhearing a conversation at a coffee shop. Sometimes I work backwards, like I might be enjoying an apple and days later I’ll think, gosh, is there a way for me to work an apple into a cartoon?

Who are the cartoonists you look up to?

I had many cartooning heroes when starting out, people whose work I would study, trying to figure out how they did what they did and those were Jim Borgman, Pat Oliphant, and Jeff MacNelly. These days, hands down, it’s Steve Sack in Minneapolis who draws on an iPad and his stuff is gorgeous. Certainly, I gain a lot from other cartoonists, too, but to be honest, I really don’t go out of the way to look at other work anymore. It’s more of an incidental thing now like if I’m at a cartooning salon like the ones I attend each year in France.

I would love to think I’ve been inspired by cartoonists from outside the U.S. but really, I get more from just talking with other cartoonists and from reading great books and watching great films.

You are a cartoonist, a musician, and a writer. Why is it important to have other creative outlets? How do they affect each other?

For me, because I have Tourette Syndrome, it’s a way to keep myself occupied, lest I sit around and obsess and twitch (laughs). But really, I do all those things because I must. There is a lot of suffering that goes along with creating anything, from making oneself vulnerable and I know no other way. They are all connected like I might be stuck on a cartoon idea so I’ll pick up the guitar and play a funky jazz chord and voila! A cartoon idea will come to me.

How has technology changed your art?

Working in color was a big one. There was a time when I only appeared in black and white and in print. Color and being able to use technology to make my work look a bit crisper is a good thing but I still draw with pens and brushes and ink, I love the tactile experience.

You have accomplished so much in your life creatively. Do you feel like there is more to do? Do you worry you wouldn’t have enough time to do it all?

There will never be enough time and I feel as if I am just getting started. I’m really trying to focus more on book projects—I have a couple of novels in the works and a graphic memoir. Anything worth doing takes huge amounts of time so I try to choose wisely by getting less sleep and working more (laughs). I also don’t waste time by passing it playing board games or engaging in small talk, I have zero interest in that, UNLESS those activities deepen my relationships and friendships then it’s worthwhile.

 You had a close encounter with a UFO and your work has literally flown to space. Please talk about that.

The graphic memoir I’m working on has to do with the UFO—so not really ready to talk about that. Let’s just say that I’m a believer.

Regarding my space cartoons, I had one day received an email from the International Space Station. I’d drawn a cartoon about Nebraska-born astronaut, Clay Anderson, who at that moment, was flying 200 miles above me. Someone had managed to beam the cartoon to the space station and he emailed to thank me. We became friends and a few years later, when he returned to space, he asked me to come to his launch but only if I would draw a couple of cartoons he could take on board. How could I say no?

How, in your opinion, can cartoons contribute to great freedom?

Cartoons are probably the clearest and obvious example of what freedom of speech looks like. Even when I don’t agree with a particular cartoon, I respect the cartoonist’s right to their opinion. Good cartoons can be part of a big conversation. I might not change anyone’s mind but I just love being part of the conversation.

 What do you like and dislike about doing editorial cartoons?

After I have the idea and the idea is the hard part, I enjoy losing myself in the actual drawing. When I’m inking, though, I can listen to music or French language lessons (laughs).

What I hate most is the awful stuff people say on social media about me. Never gets easier.

 Despite your own political beliefs how important is to stay unbiased in your editorial cartoons?

Some cartoonists are so stuck to one extreme or the other their work becomes predictable and boring. I mean, I admire that they stick to their convictions, but for me, the truth is often not just over here or over there but it might be in the middle or a little here and there and a bit more from way over there. So I try to look at each issue with clarity and not with hatred that has permeated so much of the current political climate. But, of course, I can’t help but see the world through my own lens. Still, I strive to seek the Truth, capital-T.

Do you think editorial cartoons will look any different in the future than they do now?

Scientists are working around the clock to create a little pill that, when swallowed, puts you in the middle of a 3D cartoon.  I really have no idea. Aside from the occasional animated editorial cartoon, the form really hasn’t changed much since Ben Franklin drew one of the first political cartoons with his “join or die” segmented snake drawing.

Do you have any new exciting projects in the works?

Besides, the books mentioned earlier? An animated short film based on a short story The New Yorker loved years ago but didn’t publish. It’s another project that is so time-consuming and I’m only writing the thing and doing the music. Not the actual animation. The animator lives in Omaha but is from Scotland by way of Australia who worked on Shrek and Lord of the Rings.

You were born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska please talk about what is it about Omaha that made you stay. How supportive has the community been with your art?

Well, I did live in Austria for two years, all while working for the World-Herald which gave me an interesting perspective. Otherwise, Omaha has advantages for creatives.

When my band played several shows in New York several years ago, it took nearly all day just to drive the van into town, unload at the club even though there was no official place to unload, find a parking spot—in one case nearly a mile away - It was a nightmare. Love that city but if I lived there I could only do one thing, maybe two. In Omaha, I can get around pretty easily and find time to write, draw, play music, and also get to the gym.

What sorta of perspective did you gain while living in Austria? Was it a personal one? An artistic one? A global one? And how did that perspective change your outlook?

Having been born in Omaha, and having lived there my whole life, it was interesting to DRAW about Omaha from the Alps rather than drawing about my surroundings. I was drawing about that place back there, in the U.S. I can’t say for sure that it changed my work in any dramatic or obvious way, but it felt I had some distance, room to breathe and that allowed the perspective to comment on things with that distance. Whereas, when living in the U.S. and commenting on things happening in Europe, well, that also feels like events that are happening way over there, stuff that doesn’t impact me directly. 

Furthermore, living in Europe and commenting on European issues felt more immediate, more personal. Although I still had to be careful not to make my work too “inside.” Reminding myself that I was still drawing for a primarily-U.S. market. This, too: Seeing how people in Austria live—with their 4 1/2 day work weeks, and how coffee shops are places for conversation and reading, and not for sitting on your phone or laptop … and how sometimes in the U.S. we are too focused on making money or finding success or whatever. 

Since joining the Omaha World-Herald in 1989, he has been a finalist for Editorial Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society—2002—and has twice placed second in the National Headliner Awards—2000 and 2012. He has also won first place for editorial cartooning in the Great Plains Journalism Awards five times, most recently in 2017. His cartoons are distributed through Cagle Cartoons to 850 newspapers around the globe and have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, the Washington Post, San Diego Union-Tribune, Dallas Morning News and USA Today. In 2010, two of Koterba’s cartoons flew aboard space shuttle Discovery. In 2017, he gave his second TEDx talk where he discusses Tourette’s Syndrome, vulnerability, and cartooning. His work has been included in multiple exhibits around the U.S. and in Europe, including alongside Picasso and Banksy, and in the Austrian embassy in Paris. His memoir, Inklings (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) traces Koterba’s path on his journey to become a cartoonist, and more so, to rediscover the love of his family that was there from the start. Inklings was named a Chicago Tribune Favorite Nonfiction book of 2009. Entertainment Weekly called Inklings “…a powerful and moving portrait of an artist.” In 2019 he was named a finalist for a novel in the Tucson Festival of Books, and a semi-finalist for a second novel. He is the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the Prairie Cats, a swing and jump-blues band he formed in 1998. The Prairie Cats have performed at the South by Southwest Music Festival, Windows on the World at the World Trade Center, and at the Derby Lounge in Hollywood. And in case there was any question, he now avoids thunderstorm whenever possible. 

Jeff’s website
here and keep up with Jeff via Instagram here

Screen Shot 2019-02-20 at 5.44.42 PM.png

Check out The Prairie Cats website.

The Art of Directing With Artistic Director Beth Thompson

DIBS checks back in with Beth Thompson, Shelterbelt Theatre’s Artistic Director, in Omaha, Nebraska to chat about the art of directing.

DIBS: What is a director's job? 

To assemble the best possible people to tell the story. Whether you are able to pick your own design team or have one assigned to you, the director's job is to make that table a comfortable, exciting and inspiring place to work together. Casting is half the battle; if you are able to cast performers whom you see bring the story to life in auditions and carry that energy forward in the work, then your job will be much easier. This is not always the case but if you can help your actors grow throughout the process then you have done your job. 

DIBS: What do you think it takes to direct? 

A detailed eye of the whole picture. You should have a good idea of what you want the audience to feel when seeing your show. I love collaborating with the design professionals and working together to create what the show will look and sound like. I am a director who prefers to let the team’s creative juices fly and then discuss any issues that come up from there. Dictating what "I want" to designers can stifle their artistic expressions and that is not what theater, or any art form, is about. I also believe that you have to know how to talk to your actors and how to bring the most out of them. Each person responds differently to taking direction, working out a scene and notes so you have to be able to read early on what they need and adapt to each personality. This is tough and can be a lot of work but ultimately, I believe you will get the best work out of them when handled correctly.

DIBS: In your opinion, is the director suppose to adjust to how actors take direction or is it the actors job to adjust how the director gives direction?

That is a phenomenal question! Mostly, because you would get a different answer from each director you ask. 

I can only speak to my approach, which is meeting somewhere in the middle. I expect, and in some cases require, a lot from my actors and am clear from the beginning of the process what those exercises are and how they will be utilized to the benefit of the story later on. Actors require different things from you and I do believe a good director will pick up on those signs and direct accordingly. For example, my last show had 14 actors ranging from ages 14-31 with varied levels of experience. Some of the younger actors called for a more reassuring, confidence inspiring and back to basics approach to their character work while the more veteran actors found their voices through exploration and being encouraged to fly more free and give us some choices to work with. I prefer to collaborate on creating characters with my actors as I have cast them for a reason. Something about their artistic expression through this character intrigued me so why would I want to squash their voice with the performance that might have been in my head for a few months. While I hope to cast someone who shares my take, I am often pulled in by an actor who sees another side that I may not have seen and the idea of melding these together excites and inspires me. Actors are artists, not robots. 

 DIBS: Why were you drawn to directing? 

I fell in love with the idea of telling the entire story. As an actor, I was able to concentrate on my role and how to handle that but directing allowed me the challenge of the entire process from reading a script to opening night. I fell in love with the process of putting a project together from start to finish. 

DIBS: What qualities make a successful director? 

This is a big question! (laughs)

I believe a director is successful if their work speaks to people; this can happen in a variety of ways but if the work is not affecting audiences then what is the point. I also believe that the way they treat their actors, designers, and crew is important as theater is not made in a vacuum and while one can tell stories by themselves, it generally is not as electric to watch. Collaboration is the word that keeps coming back to me as it truly takes a village and if designers or actors don't want to work with you then you are sunk. Too many people confuse directing with dictating and thus the work suffers.

DIBS: How important is communication in a theater?

Communication is EVERYTHING in theater. The point of any art form, that is shared with the public, is to communicate something otherwise that artist would just stuff their art in a closet somewhere and let it rot. I believe it is an artist’s responsibility to keep the dialogue of what is happening in society alive and to use their voice to share that message. We also have the unique ability, in theater, to encourage empathy as our audiences “take a ride in others’ shoes” for a few hours. If you can relay a message while they are in your seats, whether they agree or not, they will most likely discuss and that is the greatest thing art can do. 

DIBS: What is a misconception people make about directors or directing? 

That the director knows it all, and from the very beginning. Preparation is key but I think that it is valuable to continue to discover things about the characters or story via your actors. Allow them to make choices and to show you the aspects that you didn't see before. I always say at the first read through that "right now, I know these characters better than you do but by the end of this process you will know them better than anyone" and that is exactly how it should be. I require my actors to make up their own character bios, whether we are working on a new script or an established one, as I find that this gives depth to what they are exploring and ultimately deciding. 

Also, the designers will pick up on things you may have missed as they are analyzing the script in a different way, so never disregard what they see or hear just because you didn't think of it. 


Beth Thompson is a director, actor and has been the Artistic Director of the Shelterbelt Theater in Omaha, Nebraska since 2013. She graduated with a BA in Theater, with a focus in acting and directing, from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2012. Favorite directing credits include Neighbors, Lovers and All the Others, Revelation, The Singularity, In The Jungle You Must Wait, The Other Sewing Circle, Abby In The Summer and Psycho Ex-Girlfriend for the Shelterbelt as well as Tigers Be Still and A Bright New Boise for the Omaha Community Playhouse’s 21& Over reading series. Favorite roles include Nan Carter in Exit, Pursued by a Bear (OCP's 21 & Over), Dale Prist in 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (Shelterbelt), Mom/Ms. Speigel in Dark Play or Stories for Boys (UNO), and Mrs. Hermannson in Eric Hermannson's Soul (Lone Tree Theater Project) which toured to both the Kansas City and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals in 2011.

Beth, and her work, has been nominated for both Theater Arts Guild and Omaha Entertainment and Arts awards. She is proud to head the “Before the Boards” reading series, at the Shelterbelt, which presents staged readings of local plays to assist in their development. Her love of storytelling, collaboration and development of new work keep her striving to improve with each new project and learn a little more about herself and the world around her in the process.

Celebrating with Shrooms

On the one-year anniversary of the inception of DIBS, creators Cristina and Larissa ventured deep into the forest … at night … with no firewood and survived (due to the kindness of a friend, of course - Thanks Alicia)! They took a daytime hike near Raymondskill Falls in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, where they rap about life, love, the earth, and human nature.

The gems they stumbled upon in the past year are well represented by the fungus Cristina captured growing in the late summer undergrowth. Props to Sarah Prentice who provided insight into the magical mycological finds and helped with ID-ing them.

The year ahead sure has more mystery in store.


Cortinarius sp.

Cortinarius sp.

Ramaria or other Coral Genus

Ramaria or other Coral Genus

Cantharellus sp.

Cantharellus sp.

Marasmius sp.

Marasmius sp.

Lycoperdon sp.

Lycoperdon sp.

Entoloma sp.

Entoloma sp.

Russula sp.

Russula sp.

Dingmans Campgrounds-Mildford,PA Sept. 2018-2949.jpg
Laccaria sp.

Laccaria sp.

Hypomyces chrysospermus?

Hypomyces chrysospermus?

Laetiporus sp. AKA “Chicken of the Woods”

Laetiporus sp. AKA “Chicken of the Woods”

Amanita sp.

Amanita sp.

Calvatia sp.

Calvatia sp.

Trametes sp.

Trametes sp.

Dingmans Campgrounds-Mildford,PA Sept. 2018-2930.jpg

Mushroom Finds by Larissa Nemeth and Cristina Byrne | Photographs by Cristina Byrne | Help Identifying: Sarah Prentice

Matt Jacobs, Marine and Actor

Matt Jacobs is a Active Reservist Armorer for the United State Marine Corps who has a passion for acting. DIBS talks to Matt about when it started, what happened along the way, and what has he learned.

DIBS: From my understanding, you want to be an actor? How far back does this passion go?

MATT: My passion for acting goes all the way back to my childhood days. I’ve always loved movies and did some high school plays. I’ve always imagined being in movies and becoming “BIG”, being able to have an impact and being role model to people around the world. 

DIBS: Why did you do Plan B and not Plan A?

MATT: I was choosing a path for film in college when I was going for a film degree at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

While I was there, I interned as a Camera’s Assistant on a 50 Cent music video, Philadelphia Flyers Commercial, and a USA Network Commercial. While I was on set of the USA Network Commercial, I ate lunch with Jeff Goldblum and Matt Bomer. We talked about their acting careers and it turned into talking about the military.

DIBS: How did that conversation go with you, Jeff Goldblum and Matt Bomer?

MATT: The conversation started with just wanting to know how they started in the acting business and where they got their foot in the door. From there, it turned into them saying that they wished they had joined the military to help give them a way to serve their country and they advised me to do the same. It would transform in how I see the world, help me become a better man and have a better respect towards authority.

It was a unique experience and an ironic situation. Never had any intentions or desire to every join the military but one day, after eating out with a Marine recruiter, God changed my mind and course and I decided to join the Marines then. 

DIBS: What sort of acting debuts have you made so far?

MATT: I have debuted in the new upcoming M Night Shyamalan’s Glass (Coming January 18th 2019) starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy as the “Sniper.”

I also followed that up by appearing in the new Sylvester Stallone’s Creed 2 (Coming November 21st 2018) starring Michael B. Jordan as a Russian Officer. 

DIBS: Has the service taught you anything about working in the "Film Industry”?

MATT: The service taught me how to listen to authority and have patience and maturity through all circumstances

Also, the longevity of days, adapting and overcoming situations as they come and to stay positive when things don’t go your way. 

DIBS: Are there any similarities between being in the service and the film making world?

MATT: There are some similarities in the two businesses.

Speaking in front of an audience and being a leader type role in any situation are some major ones. Long days are another one and adapting to changes constantly. 

DIBS: Were you able to do any acting singing or dancing in the service?

MATT: My two acting debuts were while I’ve been in the service. No major singing or dancing opportunities yet. However, that won’t stop me from keep pursuing them all. 

DIBS: So you have been behind the camera and in front of the camera, is it safe to assume you prefer in front?

MATT: Oh most certainly in front of the screen. It’s been my life passion ever since I was little and being able to start my journey has become more than I expected.

DIBS: What do you like to do on your free time?

MATT: Hang out with my 3-year-old son, sing and record songs, watch movies, play sports and all around explore new places with my beautiful wife.

Filmmaker Keith Chamberlain

DIBS sat down with Filmmaker Keith Chamberlain, the Person behind Aquariarts Pictures, to talk about the success of Herrings Season 1, the challenges of an Independent Filmmaker, possible expectations of Season 2 and a few things in-between. 

DIBS: Give a synopsis of the show Herrings.

KEITH: Herrings is a dramatic thriller about two men who use the internet to disguise their clients’ digital footprint, which allows those clients to hide in plain sight.

DIBS: How did this series come about?

KEITH: About four years ago, I came across an article about a skip tracer who became a skip maker by using the internet to hide his clients’ digital footprint and thought it would make a great series. However, I was working on other projects and I forgot about it until 2015. Once I decided to make this my next project, it took me 2 years to break the story and another to cast the right actors. Once everything came together, the first episode took about 3 days to make. Now, here’s a  little bit of trivia, the first episode was originally a sizzle reel that I was going use to pitch Herrings as an hour-long show. However, when that fell through, I thought the story was too compelling to abandon and thus I adapted it as a short form web-series.

DIBS: What are the themes highlighted in Herrings?

KEITH: ·Season 1: Everyone has secrets and what some people are willing to do to keep them.

Season 2: Secrets may bring people closer... or tear them apart.

DIBS: Does the show Herrings say anything about the world we live in and if so, how?

KEITH: Definitely, this season, the show tackles timely issues like racial and gender discrimination, the MeToo movement, opioid addiction and the state of modern journalism in the digital era.

DIBS: Have you done other things besides Herrings?

KEITH: Prior to Herrings, I wrote, produced and directed four short films. I’ve also worked in shows and films like “Worthless”, “How to Get Away with Murder” and  “Paranoia”.

DIBS: In your opinion, what sort of stories are important to tell?

KEITH: Right now I’m drawn to drama and personal stuff.  Stories about people living real lives that aren’t afraid to be ugly, very in-your-face type of stuff. The characters in Herrings are complex individuals that just like real life, can garner your sympathy at one moment and your scorn at another.

DIBS: As an independent creator, what are some challenges that you face? And how do you overcome them?

KEITH: The two biggest challenges for me has been scheduling and money.  

A lot of the episodes are made based on the availability of the actors. There was a 16-month gap between Season 1 and 2, several of the actors are either no longer in the area, no longer acting or have moved on to other projects. There was also the matter of recasting certain roles and eliminating others that proved very challenging. Also, for Season 2, I had a definite end date of production and that, at times, conflicted with several of the actors, which is why some characters and their storylines are featured more than others. Trust me, there was a LOT of rewriting involved. In regards to money, while many of the cast and crew were fine working for free, I decided not to go that route for Season 2. This was one of the main factors for the 16-month gap as I wanted to pay my actors more than gas money for Season 2. Even though the budget for Season 2 is larger than Season 1, it was still relatively low and I was upfront about the budget with every D.P and Sound Mixer that I contacted. There were a few no’s but surprisingly there were quite a few yes’s. At the end of the day though, it all comes down to sheer will and a lot of faith.

DIBS: In your opinion, what defines success in filmmaking?

KEITH: When your film resonates with an audience, there’s no better feeling, in my opinion. Some filmmakers want name recognition, but I would much rather have my work recognized.  

DIBS: What sort of success has Season 1 brought?

KEITH: The show has won several awards, including Best Cast, Best Drama and Best Actor awards for both Dax Richardson and David Ogrodowski. Recently, the show was picked up by JivewiredTV,  a streaming television station launching on Apple TV in late June 2018.

DIBS: What can viewers expect in Season 2?

KEITH: Viewers can expect a more nuanced look at the characters introduced in Season 1 as well as several new characters that I think audiences will find equally, if not more, compelling.

DIBS: Lastly, in your opinion should filmmaking be used for entertainment or social change?  

KEITH:Why can’t you do both?

Keith Chamberlain is an award-winning filmmaker who currently resides in Blackwood, NJ. Since 2010,  he has written and/or directed several short films. His last short film, “The Burning Tree”, was both nominated and won at several film festivals, including Golden Door International Film Festival, Pittsburgh Uncut Film Festival, and Hang Onto Your Short Film Festival, among other venues. He also was the founder of the Dysfunctional Screenwriters Society, which from 2010 - 2015, paired local screenwriters from the Philadelphia area with actors for table-reads of their screenplays.

Stay tuned for Season 2 coming soon to the Internet


About Aquariarts Pictures : The goal of Aquariarts Pictures is to produce films, music videos, documentaries with other production companies as well as independent film investors to create challenging and powerful productions and bring those pictures to as wide an audience as possible.

Check out Season 1  HERE

Follow on social media on Twitter | Instagram

Still By Cristina Byrne

Still By Cristina Byrne

Still #1, #2, #3 are from Unnamed Photographers -  Still #4 by Cristina Byrne.

Free Man Poetry Part II by Olguin Perdomo

"On the block that I grew up on, we had this game called Free Man. When I eventually moved to Pennsylvania, this game ended up becoming Man Hunt. I ended up calling the game Man Hunt Free Man. So, I guess I am calling this Free Man Poetry because it's literally a man hunt of words while I create them." - Olguin Perdomo

Art Work Created by Olguin Perdomo

All For The Skittles

All For The Skittles

My Fabolous LIfe

My Fabolous LIfe

She Said Wonka Sucks

She Said Wonka Sucks

Shoot Ya Shot!

Shoot Ya Shot!



Click Bait

Click Bait



Bodied The Sky

Bodied The Sky

Word Play Monday

With a Collaborative Effort by a Handful of People | Assembled by Cristina Byrne

Translating Tradition- An Interview with Babushka's Owner, Ann.

" It's rare for me to be inspired by a business. But the moment I passed the stall in the Q-mart in Quakertown, PA called Babushka's, I was struck with a multitude of feelings. Hunger being one of them. This true gem of a shop is a weekly stop for me and I hope if you're in the area you stop by- they are open Fridays and Saturdays from 9am-9pm and Sundays 10-5. You can also activate your salivary glands by following them on Facebook (@whippedcreamontop)  and Instagram (@mybabushkas). Enjoy! " - Larissa Nemeth

DIBS: Brief Bio - Tell me about yourself and what you did leading up to Babushkas

Ann: I am a Jersey girl 100%.  Make all the fun you want of New Jersey, but growing up there was great.  I had a pretty normal childhood in the suburbs.  It was the 70’s and life was pretty simple.  We didn’t have a lot to worry about growing up.  The big excitement every year was the neighborhood block party and the 4-H fair.  

My first job was at a diner in Fairfield, NJ.  I was 14 years old.  Of course, I didn’t drive so I would ride with my dad from Bridgewater, NJ (where I grew up) to Fairfield (where my dad’s business was 45 minutes away) and he would drop me at the diner down the road.  It was owned by a very loud Greek couple.  The money was great for a kid and I really enjoyed it.  Through high school and into my early adult years I worked in a series of restaurants.  Everything from McDonald's to country club fine dining.  I was a bartender on and off for many years.

After I started having children I began working as a secretary (this was before you had to call them administrative assistants) and that eventually led to jobs in marketing which is pretty much where I stayed until the economy tanked and I found myself unemployed.

I am married to the only man on the planet who understands my kind of crazy.  Last year I came home one night and said – the ice cream shop at Qmart is available.  I want it and I want you to remodel it for me – He laughed for a minute because he thought I was joking.  When he realized I was serious he just sighed and said – My back hurts already.

DIBS: When did you open?

Ann: Babushka’s opened August 4, 2017

DIBS: What was the scariest part of opening?

Ann:  Honestly – money.  Whatever you think it is going to cost to open a business DOUBLE IT.  My husband and I work hard, but like many people, we have spent a lot of our lives living paycheck to paycheck.  Taking a financial risk this big, especially with a family to support was terrifying.  

DIBS: What is your favorite thing to make or bake?

Ann:  Chicken Soup.  Some of my earliest memories are of my Great Grandma Ann cooking (this is the Hungarian side of the family and her picture is the background on my Facebook page).   When we would visit her she was always in the kitchen, babushka on her head, making something delicious to eat.  Her soup was the best thing I ever tasted and it took me many years to recreate the flavor in my own soup.  You understand my GG Ann died when I was very young, maybe 6 or 7, so I never had the chance to learn from her, plus she spoke very little English and I only understood a little Hungarian.  Her recipes and methods didn’t get passed down.  My grandma Ann (my mother’s mother) died before I was born (my namesake) so I never got to meet her or learn from her either.  I know the years of practice and experimenting paid off because I have a customer who is a deeply rooted Hungarian and he had my soup a few months after I opened.  When I asked him if he liked it he gave me the best compliment I have ever received.  He said, “It tastes like my childhood”.  I know exactly how he feels.

DIBS: Any baking or cooking challenges you'd like to try that you haven't yet?

Ann:  Everything new is a challenge.  I’m always learning.  Last week I learned that if the frosting color doesn’t turn out the way you want it, adding more color isn’t going to help so you might as well just throw it all away and start again, which is what I had to do.  Nobody wants to eat gray icing.  I don’t have any ambition to bake extravagant desserts, but I would like to try to make some more authentic Hungarian desserts like dobosh torte and Rigo Jancsi.

DIBS: How does your family history play a role in your business?

Ann:  I talked about the soup earlier, but my very first memory of cooking was with my Great Grandma Sophie.  My parents were on a vacation and she had come to stay with me and my sister.  She wanted to make cheese blintzes.  She was a short woman, maybe 4’ 8” so she had me pulling out chairs from the kitchen table and climbing up onto the counters to fetch her the pots and pans and ingredients she couldn’t reach.  I remember watching her closely and how she taught me all of the little details that went into making her blintzes.  I was about 5 years old at the time.  

I grew up in the post war 1970’s when everyone was eating TV dinners and food from a can, but my dad always had a big garden where he grew vegetables for us to eat.  I learned what fresh food tasted like from my father’s efforts.  We would eat peas out of the pod and string beans off the vine and stuff ourselves with red raspberries right from the canes.  His garden is where I got my love of clean, fresh food.

DIBS: Do you have any dreams or visions for the future of Babushkas? 

Ann:  I would love to see Babushka’s open new stores in different locations.  As long as I can maintain the feel and quality.  That is pretty far down the road at this point.  Right now I am working on perfecting the menu and expanding it a little bit.  There are still a lot of things I want to do to make this shop the absolute best it can be.

DIBS: Do you feel the experience of owning and operating a business as a woman is different for You?

Ann:  Since I never ran a business as a man, I don’t know if it is different or not.  I can tell you that when customers ask about the owner, they usually ask for a ‘he’ and not a ‘she’.  People are still stuck in the mindset that restaurants are run by men.  I’m okay with that.  I like the idea that I am setting an example for the young women that work for me.  I am showing them that women can do anything thing they want, including running a business.

DIBS: What do you think is unique about operating out of the q-mart?

Ann:  The Qmart itself is a unique place, so of course, running a business there will automatically come with an extra helping of Quakertown charm.  I love it.  Every weekend the hallways are filled with an interesting cross-section of humanity and there is no way to pigeonhole who the ‘Qmart shopper’ is anymore.  The market has been open for 85 years and has had to change along with the needs of the people who shop there so it is constantly in transition.  One of the reasons I chose to open Babushka’s in the farmers market was that I saw the next generation of Qmart shoppers looking for something more like they would experience in Philly or New Hope without having to make the long drive.  They want familiar but fabulous and I hope that is what I am giving them.

DIBS: Any crazy stories or experiences you can share?

Ann:  I don’t know about crazy, but interesting things happen every weekend.  It’s just part of the deal that comes with being in the Qmart.

DIBS: What's the #1 reason you can give for someone to stop by and give Babushkas a try?

Ann: Quality.  We all need to eat to survive.  Shouldn’t eating be more than that?  If you are going to come into my store and hand over your hard earned money I want to be certain that you feel it was worth it.  I am always asking customers what they think, how I can improve, what would they like to see offered because the customer experience is what matters beyond all else.  If I work hard to provide the best quality in everything from the ice cream to cupcakes to soup and bagels, then add in staff that are as dedicated as I am to making every person who comes into Babushka’s feel valued and appreciated I have a winning combination.  It seems to be working so far.

Images Provided by Ann

Earth (day) Life

One of my earliest memories with my Nana, who spent a lot of time caring for me in my youth, is her pointing out the Robin Red-Breast. “See, Larissa, when he comes back, you know it's spring.”  So, each year when the snow and ice and gloom get to be too much to bear, even now, I look out for Mr. Robin.

Nature came to me in a small scope- raking leaves, helping plant flowers, catching earthworms, stomping in streams. It was these intimate experiences that parlayed into a much wider admiration and certainly adoration for the outdoors.

Now I have two kids of my own- and a small patch of earth for them to explore and call home.  It is both heartening and terrifying. I wonder quite often what parts of this earth we will lose in their lifetime- what will I have to explain as “well, this USED to be…” it is a question too big and troubling to tackle most days.  So, I just bring them outside. We collect rocks we find and talk about how they have arrived at that spot (Glaciers? ICE AGE!), take them to the creek (is it rushing today and muddy? Low and clear? Bone dry?). We also talk about the weather, animals we see, bugs, weeds and more.  Even the news can play a part. We visited Puerto Rico about two years before Hurricanes Maria & Irma hit the small Isle of Enchantment. We talked about their weather patterns, why this might have happened, what was lost and what will have to be rebuilt.

These efforts may seem small or random at best- but they are not without an inherent lesson. Be an observer.  Be present. Catch the light through the leaves in the trees and the raindrops glancing off your skin. What we hear, see, smell and feel today might not be here tomorrow.  And you should NOTICE that. Bear witness to the changes around you because they matter.  

What my children and your children and their children do or don’t do to protect what has sustained us in in their hands.

What we do to aid them in realizing their role in this web of life is entirely ours.


Words by Larissa Nemeth Images by Cristina Byrne

An Ode to North Country


In the country, there are many different Americas. I recently visited Vermont, just one of the variations on the theme of "USA."

In Vermont, well, the place has veins.  

Steep ski slopes cut down mountainsides- powdery white and elegant.

Rivers- everywhere, racing you.

Spiderwebs of tubing crisscross through the woods. Pulsing with sweet sap that will crystallize into sublime maple, pure.

A state among the 50 that I feel is a beautiful haven.

Words & Images by Larissa Nemeth

Journal Entry of Entrepreneur Sarah Lieswald

In July of 2015, I decided to make a huge leap and go out on my own as a graphic artist. I left my 9-5 graphics position and could not have been more excited and scared at the same time. I was confident that I would be successful. I mean, you have to be confident when you make a leap like that, or at least pretend to be. I was definitely pretending. But, the leap took me out of my comfort zone and it’s the best thing I could have done. Two and half years later and I’m a very different person.

I don’t mind being told what to do when I am in an environment that is productive and everyone I am working with is invested in a joint effort. I do mind putting effort and time into a job that is not invested in me. When I left my job I had been disheartened that I couldn’t make a bigger impact within the company. I wanted to do more and have more freedom. It terrified me to think about sitting in the same desk five or ten years down the road. I wanted more in life and knew the only way I could do that was to take some risks.

Deciding to go out on your own and be 100% responsible for your income changes someone in a lot of ways. No one is going to pick up the slack for you or do your work for you if you’re sick and no one is going to pay you vacation time. Starting out — at least for me — these are things I realized that were initially difficult to cope with. I’ve learned that being 100% accountable for everything you do can also be a blessing. When I worked as a 9-5 employee I felt accountable for my work, but I really wasn’t. If a client wasn’t happy my manager dealt with it. If something needed to be done over the weekend then it waited until Monday. Now no one is there to clean up the messes, I have to own them and fix them for myself. This may sound undesirable but, when you reach a higher level of responsibility you reach a point where you start to improve yourself, personally, to match. This is good, it puts you in tune with a whole new level of self-exploration.

Now, let’s talk about expectations: What I am doing now is not what I had imagined. Yes, I am creating art for paying clients, but I also a developed a second income. About 6 months into going out on my own I realized I needed a supplemental income. I was making money but I wanted to be making more and I’d read frequently that it was smart for entrepreneurs to have multiple sources of income. I knew I wanted my second source of income to be something where I could control the hours and pay, so I decided to try dog walking. After a few months, I started to acquire regular clients, now I walk 5 to 10 dogs a day. I love it. It’s been the perfect partner for my design work and still allows me freedom. When I first started walking dogs there was a level of shame I held onto. I’ve always been too worried about what people thought and I worried that people would think I was a failure because I wasn’t a graphic artist 100% of the time. I thought they would think I was a joke because I was walking dogs for a living. There probably are people I know that think what I do is a joke. It wouldn’t surprise me and nothing I do is going to change their minds. What I’ve come to realize is that too many people live their lives doing what they or other people think they should be doing. People get caught up in what society dictates as success. I’m happy and I love what I do, I’m not sure how many people can say that.

There’s so much advice out there and so much you can spend money on to help you figure out what you want in life. My advice is to take risks and learn that going against the grain can be one of the best things you can do for yourself. The journey of self exploration is messy, but I guarantee you it will be worth it.

Art Work Created by Sarah Lieswald

"One of my current art projects is creating illustrations from quotes that inspire me. For the longest time I struggled with making personal art because I felt like everything had been done. The world we live in is very saturated, I’ve come to realize that it’s unrealistic to think that anything you make can be 100% original. What I focus on now is how to make art out of what influences me. Obviously, my influences always need to be given credit, but I don’t think there is any shame in creating art because you are inspired by someone else’s work. We all need some kind of muse."

Cartoonist Joe Patrick

Joe Patrick is a freelance cartoonist doing his best to make his hobby into a career. He currently fills his days designing websites and scheduling ads for the Omaha World-Herald. To the delight of his wife, he also spends way too much time obsessing about comic books.

Cristina Byrne and Joe Patrick possibly met in 2015, in Omaha, Nebraska. It was on the 6th floor of the Omaha World-Herald building downtown.

DIBS: So, Joe, we meet on the 6th floor. You are what is called, Ad-Ops, an ad trafficker for the Omaha World-Herald. I would say that we became friends fairly quickly.

JOE: That's sounds right.

DIBS: It was probably because I needed something from you guys. I feel as if most work-relationships start that way. 

JOE: We met fairly early on - you were buddies with my cubicle mate [also named Joe], and you stopped by to ask a question about one thing or another.

But the thing that told me we'd end up being pals - is when I took a couple days off and came back to a picture you made with Joe's and my faces Photoshopped onto Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat. It's still hanging up in my cubicle today!

DIBS: Ha! I remember that! I actually had Rex do it for me because I didn’t have Photoshop on my computer at work. I couldn’t figure out which Joe was who. I could only identify you as Things 1 or Thing 2 not Joe McCampbell and Joe Patrick.

Since I've known you, you had this new year’s resolution, correct? Something like every day you would post a positive thing that happened that day? Could you go into detail about how that started?

JOE: Okay, you are sort of right. This all started back in 2015, when I made a New Year's resolution to write and post one haiku every day on Facebook. It started as something silly to do, but people really seemed to enjoy it, and then started asking me how I was going to top it for the next year.

DIBS: I remember reading those and I really liked them.

JOE: So for 2016, for better or for worse, I decided that I would resolve to draw something every single day. I did this partly because, like you said, I was trying to recapture a love for making art that I had kind of lost over the years. At first, I thought they'd just be quick pencil sketches, but as the year went on, the drawings got more and more elaborate, transitioning from pencil to ink to full color - some small, some large. It ended up being a huge undertaking, but I did it!

DIBS: It’s nice to hear that you stuck with it. You said you were going to do it and you did. There is a sense of hope and or motivation to that.

JOE: This year's resolution has been more vague - not a daily task but a more general commitment to expanding my art into new areas and learn new techniques; to basically better myself artistically however I can.

DIBS: What has changed in your cartoons from last year to this year? What sort of cartoons do you draw?

JOE: Well to start, I hope I've gotten better! Most of the characters I draw are existing characters from pop culture - movies, comics, etc.

DIBS: How do you decide what you are going to draw each day?

JOE: I don't really know what I'm going to draw each day, but I will run with "themes" that cover several days or weeks. For example, I spent a few weeks just drawing characters from The Venture Brothers, then several days doing characters from old Hanna-Barbera cartoons later that year. This past August, I did an entire month of characters created by the famous comic artist Jack Kirby (creator of Captain America, among many others), in honor of what would have been his 100th Birthday.

DIBS: What responses have you gotten with all this?

JOE: I've been lucky enough to sell several pieces from my 2016 batch, and I've also been hired to do various logo and t-shirt designs. In 2016 and 2017, I also helped Legend Comics & Coffee collect donations for their annual fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Nebraska by "selling" original sketch commissions during their Free Comic Book Day event in May.

The response to these art experiments has been really great, and even if I never sold anything, just getting back into creating art on a regular basis has been really rewarding.

DIBS: Please feel free to add anything else.

 JOE:  In addition to the art thing, I also have a podcast that I produce with local rockstar/chef Matt Baum (drummer for Desaparecidos and Montee Men, head chef at The Blackstone Meatball).

Matt and I are lifelong comic book fans and started working together in local comic shops over 15 years ago. We decided to take the daily nonsense we talked about and share it on the Internet with everyone. The show is called The Two-Headed Nerd Comic Book Podcast -- we started in January of 2011 and have been going strong ever since!

Were to find Joe Patrick socially:

Art Work Created by Joe Patrick

Filmmaker Samantha Paradise

Samantha Paradise, a candy-corn-binge-eating, giggling-at-poop-jokes, writer and filmmaker from the Philadelphia area focuses on strong, nontraditional female characters with her production company, FrankNBeans Films.

 Their most recent film, Homewreckers (a short), is currently in post-production.

DIBS: Could you describe the Independent Filmmakers of or in Philadelphia. Is there a scene? Do local filmmakers hang out together? 

SAM: The great hub of the Philadelphia film scene is our very supportive film office ( This is where filmmakers, actors, crew all find each other and can also keep up to date on what’s going on (festivals, productions, etc). While our film scene may be smaller than NYC, the size really does allow for knowing one another. I’ve met some really great people!

All filmmakers are different, but I love hanging out with other film folks. Great people who help one another out. 

DIBS: What’s harder: Getting started or being able to keep going?

SAM: I think most filmmakers would agree that keeping things moving is the biggest challenge. Making a movie is a lengthy process with various elements. It’s easy to want to quit if you’re knee deep in a part of the process that you don’t enjoy.

Lots of folks have great ideas and start the conversation about storyline, production, etc. However, it can be tough to weather through all the small projects that need to happen prior to shoot day (script planning, storyboarding, shot lists, casting, budgeting, etc). 

DIBS: That is true, there is a lot of planning, staying organized and communicating efficiently that happens in filmmaking. The audience only sees the final product but don’t realize or know about the amount of work that actually goes into it, the behind the scenes.

How much do you think commerce affects your art? And how much do you have to compromise as a filmmaker because of financial restrictions or business?

SAM: I'd rather be an independent filmmaker with zero creative restrictions (although there are financial ones) than a fully funded Hollywood director who is only allowed to make what will sell. Like all independent artists, I have hurdles when it comes to finances. My biggest frustration is usually that I'd like to be able to pay the cast and crew what they truly deserve, but that just isn't feasible without funding. 

A small, silver lining of having financial restrictions is the ability to flex a certain kind of creativity. It can be rewarding to figure out things like "how do I find a creepy house to shoot in for under $100?  Can I make my house look a certain way? Can I shoot in something abandoned? Do I know anyone?" It's a fun challenge.

DIBS: I would have to agree with you, I think there is a sense of resourcefulness or critical thinking that comes out when you have to work with what you got and or can afford. You expand your brain a bit, stretch it out and find solutions in places you might never have known until you were limited. You had to find another way to get what you were looking for and every once in a while, in most case when you do, you find a better solution.

What is the one mistake most filmmakers make, regardless of experience?

SAM:  You can never plan enough! We started pre-production on Homewreckers over a year ago, and despite my OCD databases and a phenomenal Assistant Director (such a blessing!), we still ran into some serious snags. Two production assistants canceled on the day of a shoot, a script supervisor ducked out the day before and the weather created a last minute schedule change. 

Back up plans are a must. 

DIBS: Do you think there are few women in filmmaking and, if so, why?

SAM: There are plenty of women in filmmaking, but very few of them end up directing (or in positions where they're calling the shots, like the Dir. of Photography). I love this question. In fact, I've answered it so often that I wrote an article about it (Unicorns with Baseball Hats: The Mythological Female Filmmaker). 

It always baffles me that I've seen male directors be completely unorganized on set, but the crew will only label them as being "eccentric" or "just really artsy." Any female director who has a rough shoot is "emotional" or a total mess.

Unfortunately, I've had male crew members direct over me every shoot because they don't trust me to handle the actors. Those are the moments I personally want to quit and fade into the background. I think this is why there's so many women in the "background" jobs (screenwriting, editing, makeup, etc.) 

DIBS: What do you mean by “can’t handle the actors” is there a way to “handle the actors?”

SAM:  Ahh, I suppose I should clarify. Direct them. The main job of the director is to focus on the actors to ensure they’re delivering the story & character correctly.

I’ve always been a fan of “not overdirecting.” I don’t direct just to hear my own voice, so if an actor is nailing it, let them keep going! Talented people don’t need to be micromanaged or you’ll kill their spirit.

I think this silence is when others may try and jump in. Almost as if they’re concerned I forgot to direct. That’s silly.

DIBS: Do you think any story can be told in a film? Is there a certain element of the storytelling that film does better?

SAM: I think the best films are the ones that were specifically written for film. Filmmakers focus on imagery and we want to tell you a story with colors, costumes, special effects and lighting we see in our heads. 

Sure, some books adapt nicely. But writers are gifted at weaving together words and you miss their magic by adapting it into a movie. 

DIBS: Does this Homewreckers say something about the world that we live in? and how or why.

SAM:  I'm hope it does. Although Homewreckers is short and fairly "light" in terms of content, I'd love to start a dialogue about the modern workplace. It's very broken. 

DIBS: So does art imitate life or does life imitate art?

SAM: I feel like I need to drink a nice whisky or smoke a cigar before answering this.

Don’t want to give away too much, so lets just say I hope no one experiences (or imitates) a Homewreckers scenario in real life. 

DIBS: So often we hear about the lack of original stories. That we’ve all “seen it before.” How do you stay fresh in the face of an idea like that? Or do you think its okay to tell a story that might have already been told but in a different setting or perspective?

SAM:  There is a ton of original content out there. Unfortunately, main stream media only funds movies that are remakes or based on superheroes. 

DIBS: Is it okay to produce stuff that isn’t that good? Or at the time might have been unexperienced.

SAM: Absolutely. No ones first film is going to be great. The important part is finishing the movie. You’ll learn from the process and be able to make a better one next time.

DIBS: Does how much money a film make, defines its success?

Success to me is if I made someone (even if it was just one person) feel something. Ideally the feeling of “Me too” or “I’m not alone.” My third flick, Conscious aimed for this and when anyone told me that movie helped them or impacted them, it was priceless. 

Homewreckers is targeting anyone in the working world. If you’ve ever felt like “shit, this isn’t fair” at work. Well, this one is for you.

...did I mention my day job is in Human Resources?

DIBS: What does independent filmmaking bring to a local community?

SAM:  New perspective, fresh ideas. We live in an era of unlimited access to entertainment, so if you’re bored with the mainstream, this would solve that problem.

Image by Cristina Byrne

Filmmaker and Director Samantha Paradise on the set of Homewreckers. 

Free Man Poetry by Olguin Perdomo

"On the block that I grew up on, we had this game called Free Man. When I eventually moved to Pennsylvania, this game ended up becoming Man Hunt. I ended up calling the game Man Hunt Free Man. So, I guess I am calling this Free Man Poetry because it's literally a man hunt of words while I create them." - Olguin Perdomo

Art Work Created by Olguin Perdomo

#21 Savage

#21 Savage

Four The Money

Four The Money

Feds Hit The Spot

Feds Hit The Spot







Love Me

Love Me

Love Me Like Kanye

Love Me Like Kanye

Passion Fruit

Passion Fruit