Harmony in Diversity: A Theatrical Journey with Anita & Rachel Hollander

March 11, 2024 01:37:44
Harmony in Diversity: A Theatrical Journey with Anita & Rachel Hollander
Disability Empowerment Now
Harmony in Diversity: A Theatrical Journey with Anita & Rachel Hollander

Mar 11 2024 | 01:37:44

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Show Notes

Anita Hollander has performed throughout Europe, Asia & US, at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, London’s West End, NY Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre & White House. A Helen Hayes Award nominee, her solo musicals Still Standing and Spectacular Falls, have played Off-Broadway, nationally & internationally. Other Theatre work includes Ragtime, CATS  (Grizabella). On TV she’s Guest Starred on Welcome To Flatch & FBI: Most Wanted. Film work includes Handsome Harry, Musical Chairs. SAG-AFTRA National Chair, Performers With Disabilities. www.anitahollander.com Rachel Hollander is not only an ordained Interfaith/InterSpiritual minister but also a versatile professional, excelling as a speaker, teacher, writer, performer, podcaster, singer/songwriter, officiant, and performance interpreter. Her influence extends nationwide, with performances […]
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Episode Transcript

Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Welcome to Disability Empowerment Now, Season 3. I'm your host, Keith Murfee DeConcini, and today I'm talking to Anita Hollander and Reverend Rachel Harlanda. Anita, welcome back to the program, and welcome to your sister, Reverend Rachel Anita Hollander: Harlanda. Hi, it's great to be back. Thank you so much, Keith, for asking me to come back and especially to bring my sister, who I adore, and, uh, who's been my partner in crime, performing my shows all over the place. And, uh, um, I'm just, not only I'm, you know, I wear my performer hat and I also wear my, uh, National Chair of Performers with Disabilities for SAG AFTRA hat as well. So, hello! Thank you, Keith! Rev. Rachel Hollander: She also wears her director and writer and composer hat and sister hat and advocate hat. She has lots of hats, which is good because our mother likes to make hats. Anita Hollander: So she's got a hat. She's got a Rev. Rachel Hollander: hat for every occasion. Um, hi, my name is Reverend Rachel Hollander and I am, uh, an ordained interfaith, interspiritual minister and a writer and a teacher and, um, uh, sister and, uh, performance interpreter, performance sign language interpreter among many things. And I'm the baby, so I get to be the baby. He is. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Rachel, I'll [00:02:00] start with you. What made you want to become a reverend? And what was Proud Sons like becoming an interfaith reverend? Rev. Rachel Hollander: So it's interesting, you know, we grew up in a Jewish family and I kept finding myself sitting in temple services doing things like looking up when everybody else bowed their head or occasionally Like throwing my hand up in the air, like in a hallelujah that I didn't know why I was doing it. And, um, and I also, like, really got bored with prayers from a book and I, I wanted to, like, I'm like, just pray, just talk. So as soon as I was able to, I started exploring other, um, Places of worship and other spiritual paths and finding, like, the tie ins and the connections and, you know, this idea that whatever word we want to use [00:03:00] for a larger being larger than us, you know, God, spirit, whatever word we want to use. It's like this big mountain, and we're all climbing it from different sides. And just because I can't see the path on the other side of the mountain doesn't make it wrong. We're all climbing it and we're all. Moving towards the same thing, which is, you know, oneness and love and peace and kindness. So, um, I started out in a, in a new thought, uh, church up in Anchorage, sort of exploring this idea of connecting all the face. And then I found 1 spirit interfaith seminary in New York and was like, that's my jam. And so, um. I went through their program and I was ordained in 2009. Um, and it was a 2 year program, which for me was not enough. So I just kept doing their, like, continuing education and I stayed involved and I became part of the mentoring ministry and, and for this last. Last year, and now this year, I'm a dean in the seminary. And so I help [00:04:00] shepherd my little deanery of students through their first year. And, um, we are now expanding from just interfaith to being interspiritual, which is now including social activism, uh, anti racism work, um, anti all the isms work and, um. It's a, it's an exciting process. It's a great place to be. And, um, and when people say to me, well, what does that mean? You know, what does being an interfaith minister mean? And I said, basically it means whatever you believe doesn't matter as long as you're being kind, just be kind and yeah. And the belief doesn't matter. So I have friends who are atheists and they're like, do I have to believe something and I was like, no, just being a nice person and that's good enough. That's good enough. Yeah, Keith Murfee-DeConcini: I didn't think I would say this, but if you just snip out the golden rule, it is [00:05:00] probably the only passage in the Bible that can stand completely on its own, bar none. Yeah. What got you into studying American Sign Language and performance interpreting? Rev. Rachel Hollander: Well, okay, so here's my full disclosure. There was no study involved . Um, when I was in junior high, I started volunteering with a theater company here in Cleveland that was at that time called Fairmont Theater of the Death. And they would perform shows in simultaneously spoken English and sign language, incorporating the two together really creatively. And so at 14, I was like, I'm all in. This is great. Um, however, it was mostly signed English. And so after three or four years of hanging out with them, [00:06:00] they started introducing ASL and I was like, too scary. And I ran away. And many years later, I came back and I, when I auditioned for the theater company, they said, you know, what do you remember? And I said, I remember turtle, I remember tree and I remember my name is and I could spell my name and they were like, okay, here we go. And so, for the 1st, 3 weeks of rehearsals with a deaf director who did not speak and 3 other actors to deaf 1 hearing 10 hours a day, um, by the 1st. By the end of the three months, first three months, I was conversant. And by the end of the first year with the theater company, I became the company interpreter. So it was kind of like moving to Paris to learn French. I was living and breathing 24 7 Deaf culture, and I stayed with them for eight years. That's [00:07:00] Keith Murfee-DeConcini: English. So sign language was actually my first language. I did not speak until I was seven. I learned an abbreviated ASL. So English is actually my second language. And the only thing I remember from that time Rev. Rachel Hollander: The most important sign. Yeah, Keith Murfee-DeConcini: the most important sign. And then you factor in that on very much an old school, Hope led romantic, and then it becomes even better. And so, English is actually my second language. So, [00:08:00] Anita, since the last time we talked, I snuck on the board of the Peter Breaking Through Barriers, which is how we met. Uh, I don't know why it said snuck on. You can't sneak on to a non profit. Nick, if you're listening, I'm sorry. So, so we talked so much about, last time, about the process of, accessible theater and writing accessible musicals that I thought it was only fair that [00:09:00] we bring on your sister to continue the conversation because like every good interview, If we run out of time and we're having so much fun talking about other things, there's always another interview. So, picking up where we left off. I just blanked out. Yeah. Well, Anita Hollander: I know that you first saw Spectacular Falls. I don't think you saw Still Standing. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: No, no, I didn't. And I kept going back to Spectacular Falls. Not only [00:10:00] Ted's on Cornelius Street, which is something I walk. Always mention, always be envious of, and always, which I could somehow steal, uh, from you creatively. Uh, but also the humor of one of the opening songs, where you'd say, or you'd sing that it only takes a banana peel away. And I'm like, That is brilliant! It's so commonplace and something so innocuous can call disability. And so, what was it like writing the humor [00:11:00] aspect of Spectacular Folds and also combining it with very serious subject matter? Yeah. Anita Hollander: I think that that has always been my, um, maybe my, my skill, which is, uh, well, coming from a family with, uh, with black humor as our basis. I mean, we could make a joke out of anything, um, on car trips, long cars. I know Rachel knows what's coming on, on car trips. We, um, would all say. And there were four girls, my mom and my dad, and we would sing and, um, but we would make up medleys. And one of our medleys was the blood medley. So we would inject musical theater songs with the word blood, like the hills are alive with the sound of blood, you know, stuff like that. And [00:12:00] every musical theater song we could come up with, we would inject the word blood. So as, oh, um, Okay, there's somebody at our door. This happens a lot. But anyway, um. So, here's here's what I thought when I became disabled 1 of the 1st funny moments was, um. When Rachel saw that I, you know, everyone knew I had lost my leg, uh, back back when, uh, when I lost my leg in 1982, which was my second time of having cancer. So the family had gotten used to the fact that I had cancer. We had all dealt with that. The wig falling off, things like that. But five years later, when I lost my leg, we had a Passover Seder and yeah. Rachel, the youngest of us said, um, said to us, um, she came [00:13:00] in and I was like, I was taking my leg off, you know, for the Seder and she said, Oh, um, I was looking for a slipper and she said, what size, what size foot do you wear? And, and suddenly went, Oh my God. And I. Burst out laughing because that was like joke number one. That was going to be joke number one for all time. So coming from a family with a sense of humor like that, who can make anything funny, um, it was a natural progression that all the songs I would start writing about my experience, there would be very few serious, um, ballads. But the but the most important thing to me was if an audience can laugh, If you can make an audience laugh, they're going to, they're going to settle in and listen to what you have to say. This was true on the stage of the, the improvisation, um, the, uh, the comedy club, uh, the improvisation. [00:14:00] If I had got up on stage. First, I would wear both legs, but when I was pregnant, I had to get up on stage on one leg. And the owner of the club, Silver Friedman, Bud Friedman's wife, I said, can I go up on stage on one leg? Pregnant, one legged woman getting up on stage at a comedy club as the opening music act. And she was like, I don't care how many legs you have. You're great. You just get on stage. And she'd throw me on stage. Here I'd be. on one state on, on one leg and singing. And, uh, the men in the audience were like into it, they were like, Whoa, you know, this was like this fantasy thing, but the women in the audience would sort of like, go like this. Um, because here's this one legged woman on stage. I mean, this went long after the pregnancy was over and I had lost the baby weight and I wore sexy outfits and they were like this because to them, it was. It was [00:15:00] not, it was an uncomfortable thing, but as soon as I made the audience laugh. With the first song, though, Rev. Rachel Hollander: the Anita Hollander: men were like laughing away and but the women, like, put their hand down and started feeling more comfortable and watching many of the women were in their 30s, many were my age at that time. And I could understand their discomfort there but for the grace of God, as we say. They, they put their hand down and they started to laugh and by the third song, everybody was cheering and you know, like they were having a great time. And that was Silver's idea that I warmed the audience up. I warmed the crowd up to laugh at the comics. So I had to be funny. So I was writing songs like. Paper napkins, a song about writing songs on paper napkins, but when I would cry, they'd get all snotty and mucusy and, you know, I'd lose the lyric and stuff like that. I mean. I [00:16:00] had songs like that and and made fun of other composers sometimes and um, things like that. So when I went to do my show, the first song, the first show was still standing, and I was going to walk on stage at the beginning of the show on two legs, and after a brief little intro, just a few lines of singing, I was going to take off my leg and sing about the advantages of having one leg. Well, in nine 1993, when I first did this on a stage, it was quite shocking. Not to me. I mean, I threw it over my shoulder and made everybody laugh. Once they got over that, they then were comfortable and they could hear all the serious things. I would, if I had had my way, Keith, my show would be all comedy with no seriousness. [00:17:00] And there was a song in still standing and I'm sure you will go and watch the video or listen to the album, but there's a song in the right smack in the middle of the show after everybody's been laughing and having a great time. There's the darker section of the show. The first song being about the pain, which still has humor in it, because the way I describe the pain, my nerve pain is pretty funny, actually, but then it gets into this serious place of this is serious, but everybody's laughing and it's just like turns a corner like, you know, like putting on the brakes on a car. Of Rev. Rachel Hollander: course, the darker section of the show is my favorite, but Anita Hollander: this is what I'm getting at, Rachel. This is where I'm going with this. It goes to the main song after the pain is a song called The Choice. It was the very first song I ever wrote. And it was a challenge by a professor at Carnegie Mellon who said, We hear you sing songs by [00:18:00] James Taylor and Joni Mitchell and Carol King and Carly Simon and all that, but we never learn anything about you. You, you've just gone through cancer. You're on chemotherapy. I was at, in college when that first operation happened. She was like, but we didn't learn anything about, you just had this cataclysm and you're still having chemo and radiation. And we know nothing about that world. All we know is you're a great singer, great piano player. And that's it. Entertaining, but you just went through something major. And I said to her, what do you want me to write my own songs? And she was like, Yeah, so that night I wrote the song, the Choice and came back to spite her to, to stop her from ever suggesting that I should write any songs. It was the song, the Choice, which is about what it feels like at three in the morning when you don't know your life is hanging in the balance. You just realized you had cancer. You didn't really know [00:19:00] it. You don't know if Under the cast is a real. Is your left leg or if it's not there and this is just them trying to help you understand that you now don't have a left leg because at that point I knew I didn't know what was going on and nobody told you things in 1977. So that could have been a fake cast. Because my nerves had been severed, so I didn't know if I had a left leg or not. So I wrote this song about what it felt like to be all alone at three o'clock in the morning. Couldn't call a friend, uh, and the radio is playing love songs, and you know, like, that's sort of like smooth listening kind of things, and you're like, this doesn't compute. Well, I sang it to her the next morning at 8 a. m. thinking, Ha ha ha ha, and I said, So, what do you think? And she goes, Well, that's what I was talking about. That's the exact song that you needed. And that became the [00:20:00] cornerstone of what 16 years later would be the show, Still Standing. It went through different phases, But it ended up being that song. And at one point during the years that I was performing the show, After it ended, Become a show. It had become an album. I had premiered it at Don't Tell Mama Cabaret, which was an odd place to premiere a show, a musical about such serious subjects. But, um, at, at a certain point I took it out of the show because I was like, this is whining. This is serious. This is just too serious for this show. I don't want people to cry. I want people to laugh. Well, that was a mistake. It belonged in the show because people kept saying, Anita, if we don't know where you've been. Then we don't appreciate. the story very much. You know, we can laugh at funny things, but if we don't know that you went through serious pain and suffering, then we think, [00:21:00] well, it was easy for her, but it's not for me. And like what Rachel just said is that her, it's her favorite song. I can't tell you how many people come up to me after the show and say that 3 a. m. song. It's that 3 a. m. I've been there and they didn't have cancer and they just had been there, but it's funny that I. A side story is that I had entered that song in the Billboard Songwriting Contest in around 1979, 78. And the response from Billboard was, because in those days in the contest, they would send you a recorded feedback. On a cassette tape and my recorded feedback about the choice was when you're writing a song, you really need to be able to be earnest and, you know, and really, um, go be, you know, they thought it was a song about losing my boyfriend. Can you [00:22:00] imagine a song about 3 a. m. having cancer? I never said the word cancer in the song. I just said this is what it feels like at 3 a. m. And it's a song that all over the world people have related to that song as themselves. At 3 o'clock in the morning with no one to call and feeling depressed and all that. But in 1978, it wasn't an acceptable popular song. Because it was like, you know, this is You know, you really need to, it has to come from the heart. Rev. Rachel Hollander: Well, and I just, can I jump in on something here because, so there are two songs, Keith, in the middle of the show, there's the pain and the choice, and they are my two favorite songs, um, to interpret, uh, well, they're my two favorite songs and they're my favorite songs to interpret and not just because I was there and cause I lived this with her. It's because I live with depression and those songs. have [00:23:00] meaning for me as somebody who lives with depression and physical pain. So when she sings the pain, it's very hard for me to interpret that song without crying because I'm living that as well in a totally different realm than she wrote it. And the same with the choice. I had my 3 a. m. moment. I have had a few 3 a. m. moments where it's like, when you're living with depression, you have to make that choice every day. You know, am I going to stay? Am I not going to stay? Is today worth it? Is it not worth it? And so, for me, you know, I love the humor, and there's a song in the show where she actually becomes me. And I'm interpreting her being me, which is very meta. And we have a lot of fun with it. However, it's those two songs that, um And I can see the audience like as I'm interpreting. I can see them just connecting in. So my vote, those two songs. Anita Hollander: Yes. And just to add one [00:24:00] more thing is at the very end of the show, after the triumphant song, here I stand, which is about, well, I'm still here. And that's the point. After that song is a song is like an app. It's called the epilogue because to me it. I was afraid that a song like here I stand would make the audience feel well she did it, but that's her. She's just built that way. But epilogue was literally related to the. The, the young man composer who inspired me to make all these songs into a show for his sake, because he was dying of aids and he wanted a checklist of tools of how to survive tools for survival. And that's what Still Standing is, um, a toolkit for survival, surviving life's catastrophes. And so the epilogue is. This, [00:25:00] there was this person named Michael and he said, how do you get from there? Here I stand, you know, to here, how, how did you get from, sorry, why did you get from their cancer to here? I stand, how did you get from there to here? And I wanted the audience to know this is why this show exists is that I tried to figure out. How? Sense of humor, imagination, family, love, um, chutzpah, all the, all those things were in, in each of the songs. So after, oh my gosh, I'm sorry, podcast in my living room, there's another, there's a phone ringing. But anyway, uh, besides that, I, I wanted the audience to know that it's just about just be here, do whatever you can, but just, just. To be here and and people relate to that [00:26:00] one because it's a dark song it tells about it's like and two months later Michael died. I mean, yeah, and I didn't know if I had been able to help him survive. Because he, he didn't, he, he listened to everything, you know, but he still died. And I was going on with this feeling of, how can I help the people in the audience? How can I help those who are still struggling? And Rachel, you wanted to say something. Rev. Rachel Hollander: I was just going to say, and for the record, that is actually my favorite song in the show. Um, because I love Michael so much and a little shameless. Little shameless plug. I'm gonna do a little shameless plug. I actually took the lyric from that show, and that's the title of my book. That's right When they're to Hear an Insider's Guide to Navigating Depression, the Navigating The Darkness. And Michael is in my book from when he sent me a letter saying, these are all the questions I have about living with depression. Answer them for me. And so Anita and I [00:27:00] share this beautiful connection with this wonderful human who lives in the EERs. Um. And that song, yeah, that song is definitely, uh, my first favorite. Um, because like Anita, um, when people see me today and they're like, wow, you don't seem depressed at all. Like are you healed? Are you cured? And when I published the book, people were like, oh, so you're this, you publish this book cause you're over it. And it's like. No, I published this book because I'm showing you that you can live with it as opposed to not living with it. So you get from there to here multiple times a day. From there to here is this ongoing living process of hour by hour, minute by minute. Um, so yeah, that song is very powerful. And after the triumphant, you know, here I stand moment, it brings the audience right back [00:28:00] in super close. Super close. And so when the show ends, there's just this, ah, now I get the message. And, and interpreting that is, is such a beautiful thing. Cause there's a, a, a, a sign choice that I choose at the end of the song that, that sort of leaves it ethereally going off into the air. And I, I just gave myself goosebumps. Um, so it's, uh, it's a really, it's, it's a beautiful, um, it's a beautiful combining of the arts. Anita Hollander: If anyone's listening to this podcast, you can go online and look for, um, still standing Anita Hollander epilogue. And I think you'll be able to hear the song because there's a YouTube version of it, but, but it is something that people it's like bringing it down. And even in South Korea, in Seoul, where everybody's first language was Korean, and even the deaf interpreters, they were Interpreting in [00:29:00] Korean, uh, Korean Sign Language, and then there was And then there was America. There was like so many interpretations going on, but people loved that last song. They felt something and they, through the interpreters all told me that, you know, without that last song, they didn't, they, they would have missed something. They would have missed, as Rachel said, The connection. This is true. And I want to throw one last thing in before you ask another intelligent question. Keith, you always have great questions and I'm getting in your way. But, um, But I'd like to dedicate today's podcast to a rabbi whose birthday it is today, but he is long gone. He, he left his earthly coil a while ago, but his name is rabbi David Hagen. And, and when you think about. When I think, I always think of myself as a positive person. And when I think of positive people, [00:30:00] he was one of those people who just, his smile would light up a room and he, he had a family connection that for some reason he just kept being, he kept being the author of changes and things that happened and how we met people and all this stuff. So I just want to put that out there with that. We both dedicate this to him. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Thank you. So, was the language sensibility always full? Oh no. Yeah. When you did mid morning. Yeah. So, Anita Hollander: yeah. It's like me and my bells and whistles going off everywhere. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So, was language sensibility always [00:31:00] still standing spectacular folds on the the third, the third musical that you're writing, Anita, and how did the language accessibility Aw, right. Anita Hollander: Wow. As I say, you always ask incredible questions, language Keith Murfee-DeConcini: that kids in the mail, . No, I'm kidding. Anita Hollander: No, I love it. That's why I like doing interviews with you because. There are questions I get asked a lot. And then there are the unique ones that you always seem to find. Language and sensibility. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Language accessibility. Anita Hollander: Accessibility. Sorry. [00:32:00] Thank you for qualifying. Language accessibility. So, at a certain point of doing. Here are still standing. I thought it was important that if I was going to do a show about disability that it needed to be physically accessible. There had to be a way to get into the theater and there had to be a way for my death colleagues. to be able to come and see the show. And instead of having one performance, that most people probably, you know, who knows if that's a day, a good day for them. I thought, well, here I have a sister who is like incredible at Signing, you know, at an interpreting, not just interpreting language, but interpreting theater because she did go to Juilliard and get the theater interpretation training. So, so when she told you she had [00:33:00] no training, that was kind of, she had no initial training to be an interpreter. That is true. But she went to Julia, by the way, she was ordained at the Riverside Church. So my, my sister, who a person who doesn't live in New York, only lived here for a very short time. She's, she's actually shown up in the biggest places, but here was Julia giving this wonderful course, Candace. Oh, what's, uh, Candice Broker Penn. Candice Broker Penn as Stephanie Fain. Fain, Alan Champion. Alan Champion, the best interpreters in the business. We're teaching interpreters how to interpret theater, which of course helped to inform her work with in Cleveland with Cleveland Sign Stage, which Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf turned into Cleveland Sign Stage. And all of this stuff morphed together and she came here and studied at Juilliard. So, Rev. Rachel Hollander: I [00:34:00] have a Anita Hollander: sister who can interpret theater. Well, because of her work with Cleveland Sign Stage, they Asked me to come and do a benefit, a gala performance of still standing at the Cleveland Playhouse, which was fun because as a child I was in their children's apprentice program and I I did a show there with Peter Ostrom, who was Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the first movie, a little bit of trivia, but at any rate, this was me, my homecoming back to the Cleveland Playhouse, but if it was going to be a benefit for a deaf theater company, we'd better have it interpreted. And there was Rachel. with Joan, her cohort interpreter. And while I did the show still standing over in the corner was Joan and Rachel doing the show. I mean, performing my show, it was hard for me to do the show and not watch them because I was fascinated that the show they were doing seemed. Almost more interesting to me than Rev. Rachel Hollander: my own [00:35:00] show. And um, I just have to jump in on that. So when we, when we translate a show, we write something called a gloss, which is, you know, English to ASL. And Anita wanted to see my gloss. And I said, no, because Anita is notorious for having difficulties remembering lyrics. And I was afraid she was going to start singing the gloss. So I would not show her the gloss. Anita Hollander: Exactly. Her, her scripts for my shows do not have my lyrics. They have her interpretation of the lyrics, how to do it in ASL, which is not the same grammatical structure and, you know, songs, rhyme and all that stuff. Well, You know, if you watch Russell Harvard sometimes do some of his videos, I love watching him because it's like the meaning of the song is what's important, what grows, you know, what, you know, all these, these things. And I'm seeing some of the signing I'm learning, but at the same time, he's interpreting it his way. [00:36:00] And that's what Rachel has always done. So, um, so they did it. And when I thought about it, I thought, you know, if I'm going to tour this show, I want. Deaf audience members now. Okay. I'm going to say something that the, your deaf audience is going to be pissed at me, but, um, sometimes they don't show up for the show. It's like, come on, people I'm doing this for you, but whether they showed up or not. I want to be ready. I want to, I want to be able to say my show runs from this state to this state, and you can come any night to the show, and it will be interpreted so that you will be able to understand what's going on in the show, and those who have come. have really enjoyed it. And I think because we choreograph it so that sometimes she's shadowing right next to me, sometimes she's over on stage right and I'm stage left cause I'm dancing around and [00:37:00] stuff. As we've gone on, when we moved into Spectacular Falls, it was a lot more incorporated so that she's next to me, she's behind me, she's, you know, wherever. So that at some point we actually Rev. Rachel Hollander: look at each other, there's this, well Anita Hollander: you've seen the show, the song about 9 11, the towers, at the end of that song, we're so close to each other, and then we watch what happened on 9 11, at the end of the song, there's a musical moment where we both, Are remembering our, you know, we are both in that moment and hopefully the third show, which is going to be called balance a footnote, which is sort of like to bring together what I've learned and about hopefully about wisdom I've gained over the time that I've written these shows. I want to keep exploring [00:38:00] that kind of thing. Now, I couldn't take her to Korea with me, which was sad. But, um, they did budget for me to go business class, so I can't complain. But fortunately, and I told Rachel this, fortunately, the Korean interpreters were artists. And art is so important in Korea, particularly South Korea. I've never been to North Korea, so I don't know, but art is funded and it's so important that these interpreters were sensitive people. They couldn't speak English. They couldn't understand me when I spoke English, but through an interpreter, The Korean interpreter who stood behind me for the song, the epilogue for the epilogue. He didn't know Michael. He didn't know anything about my life. But afterwards, he told me through an interpreter, he said, I, I'm so sorry, but I [00:39:00] could not help crying. I couldn't. Help myself. I mean, he felt that he had, that he had, um, damaged the performance because he was, he was crying. He was interpreting the song with such emotional connection to it. He said, I couldn't, I couldn't help it. And I am, I am very sorry. It was like, out of respect for me. And I was like, no, you don't understand my sister, who does this. And we, I'm sorry. We weep when we sing this song because, and he said, I didn't know Michael and I'm like, but you kind of do know Michael. If you felt what you felt, then you know, you knew Michael and this connection made me understand back to your point about making the show accessible, making language that I'm speaking into a universal language.[00:40:00] Is the aim and has been the goal ever since Rachel first interpreted the show at the Playhouse when I said, I don't like doing the show without her. Fortunately, I get to go back to Cleveland didn't do stuff. So she's all she's there, but she's come to Boston to do it up in in Concord, Massachusetts. We've done it in Canton, Ohio. We've done it in New York, Rev. Rachel Hollander: Virginia. Anita Hollander: Oh, my God, in Virginia at the, um, and, and actually the video of spectacular falls in Virginia is the best video of any performance. I think any live performance I've ever done and really worth seeing. because we and we got to see what the show really looks like with beautiful lighting and a great designer who just like designed as a set from just hearing the show for one night only. Um, [00:41:00] at the, um, uh, the Reston Performing Arts Center. Uh, thanks to Paul Douglas McNevich who Is a sensitive soul on every level, a director and not just the curator of the season, but a great director who directed me at the Kennedy Center, um, doing John Beluso's play, Gretty Good Time. And again, Paul brought Brought on board these incredible designers, and that was all shadow signed. So Keith, it's not just my shows, but at the Kennedy Center, we did John Beluso's play, Gretty Good Time. John Beluso's are the most famous of disabled playwrights who unfortunately died suddenly at the age of 36, but had already created an oeuvre, you know, he has a collection of plays that speak to the disabled experience, but in the United States. the most dramatic and [00:42:00] amazing and funny ways. And, um, I had Susan Karshmer as my shadower. And there was, um, an Asian, uh, an American, Asian American interpreter for the Asian American actress. And each person had their shadow signer. Was tailor made for them and their character and their cultural background. And because Greti Goodtime, the play by John Beluso, it's about a woman who existed in the 1950s, had polio. But before Salk, just before Salk created the, the vaccine. So, and she, nobody knew what to do with this 30 year old vital young woman who was severely disabled. And they put her in a nursing home. She watches TV all day, even though she's. She's smart and she's funny and she has, she wants a life. She watches and she sees a thing about Hiroshima [00:43:00] and she starts to imagine a friend, a woman, one of the Hiroshima maidens. So there was a Japanese character in the play and the two of them, they go on this journey that helps Greti to find herself and to. But she couldn't stand up, but to stand up for herself and say, I need a life beyond this frigging nursing home. And the doctor helps her to escape, basically. And a fascinating show. But with all of these, um, multicultural characters and multicultural interpreters. It was amazing. So it's and and sign stage was doing that all the time. Um, that the plays that they did, they went on tour with Treasure Island and things like that. And, um, I mean, sorry. I call my sister, my daughter's name. It's just the way it happens. [00:44:00] But with Rachel on tour with a deaf company, she has all kinds of adventures to talk about. Um, at one point Sign Stage linked with Deaf West or one of the other, uh, companies and Troy Kotzer was there. So there's a picture where Rev. Rachel Hollander: Troy He was with, he was with NTD. This was in 1993. National Theater of the Deaf, right. National Theater of the Deaf was doing a production of Ophelia. And it was a world premiere. And for the first time in the history of all of the deaf theaters, this was before Deaf West. It was NTD, Sunshine 2, and Fairmont Theater of the Deaf. We were all together. Um, and there's this great picture of us. And that was the first time I ever saw Troy. So that was 31 years ago. And he blew my mind. I was like, this guy is amazing. Um, there was something I was going to say though, about what you were. Talking about, uh, shadow Anita Hollander: signing or the diversity or, Rev. Rachel Hollander: uh, Oh, about Treasure [00:45:00] Island. I got to play five male pirates in an hour. Anita Hollander: And this is true. Rachel's been able to do Shakespeare playing all these wonderful roles in Shakespeare. Now that she's interpreting for Great Lake Shakespeare, she's getting to play roles that she hadn't played. You can talk more about that, but, Rev. Rachel Hollander: but I've gotten. I've been able to play roles that I'll never get cast in. I've been Hamlet twice. I've been Burr and Washington and Hamilton. Yes. Um. Hadestown, uh, Book of Mormon. This is because, Anita Hollander: uh, Rachel interprets national tours that come through Cleveland. And when she was up in Anchorage, when she lived in Alaska, she would interpret the tours, the national tours that came through many different cities. Actually, she has, she's done that. But in Cleveland, she, she may have been the first interpreter of Hamlet, uh, Hamilton. Sorry, Hamilton, because we're not sure. Yeah. [00:46:00] York. I spoke to the interpreters and it was so soon after the tour went out. They were saying to me, no, I, I don't know who has been an interpreter on the show yet. So they were like saying, can we have your notes? Like what did Rachel do? Oh my And Hamilton has so many characters like whirling around and And she had to learn the whole show in 11 days, the whole show. The first time they told her she was gonna interpret it, Rev. Rachel Hollander: the first time it came through Cleveland was 2019. And I had not even listened to it yet. I hadn't even heard the show. And, um, they said, well, we've got a Keith Murfee-DeConcini: request. They thought it was that was going to judge everything. Anita Hollander: Yeah. It would just be there a second. Rev. Rachel Hollander: So wrong. Yeah. And I, and I'm, I'm, I'm fad [00:47:00] resistant. So like, if anything super popular, I'm like, so I hadn't even listened to it. And we got this request and they said, uh, it's an 11 days. So I just, I started listening to the, I downloaded the album and I listened to it 24 seven while I slept in the shower while I drove. I didn't even look at the script. I just kept listening and listening and listening and, and there were only two of us to interpret the show, which is insane. If you ever do Hamilton, please request more than two interpreters. Um, and so I knew I was going to be Burr. I knew I was going to be Washington. I wanted to be Mulligan because his signs are so big and I got to sign like Mulligan. Um, and I wanted to be Angelica. And so the other interpreter picked up everything else and, and. It was insanity. Um, the 2nd time we did, it was a little better because we just, we had a little bit of a [00:48:00] foundation. Um, so, yeah, it's, uh, it's, it's. It's an adventure and it's always um, it's always different. It's always different. And, and having been an actor has prepared me to be a better theatrical interpreter. Because now I know, like with Great Lakes, when we were interpreting, um, Julius Caesar, and I had, I had this idea for what, Brutus meant in one of his signs, but I wasn't sure if that's what the actor was meaning. And I got to talk with him about it. I got to actually sit with the actor and go, okay, so I'm translating this line and I'm thinking that you're thinking this. And he was like, actually, no, I'm thinking. And so we got to collaborate so that I wasn't interpreting incorrectly. I got to actually translate his thoughts, um, with Hamlet, I'm a little more stubborn. I love Hamlet. It's my favorite show to interpret. [00:49:00] And oftentimes I will just do what I want, which is bad. So don't put that out on the podcast. Nobody heard that. Nobody heard that. Anita Hollander: But that's true also in my shows, because sometimes Rachel will say, well, when you say that. I love Hamlet. What exactly are you meaning like the song share the world where I actually interpret this at that point in the show, I give Rachel a break in spectacular falls and you've seen this Keith, I give Rachel a break for Rachel's hands a break. And then I sit on a stool instead of dancing around the stage. And instead of singing. I also give my voice a break. My children's choir comes over the sound system singing share the world, which is the song about immigration immigrants, how we are all immigrants, and, um, that. When she helped me to understand how to interpret it, I had to read realign my thinking in the fact that this is [00:50:00] ASL. This is not English. So, you know, some of it is a bit English. But then there's other things where she taught me how to make something happen. But I had. It was good that I wasn't singing it, but rather in the, in my head, speaking ASL in my head, you know, like, um, um, um, however, if we. If we help each other, what? We can share the world. You know, that's not the lyric is like, um, a helping hand can make change and help us share the world. But it's like, um, if we help each other, what? Well, we can, we can change the world or share the world. Anyways, um, the kids of the children's choir, I taught them how to sign it. And in the middle of that, The kids wanted to say [00:51:00] welcome in all of the languages that they're families. Immigrated from that their families came from. So their ancestors because these were kids age 6 through 16 or 18. And, um, so they had their assignment was to go home and find out what countries they came from and in the middle of the song. We said the word welcome in all the languages. So when I went to sign it, I decided it would be best to sign just the sign word for the country so that anyone who was deaf in the audience, instead of trying to sign the word welcome in those languages, because I don't know, um, Uh, sign language in Chinese and sign language and, uh, Hungarian or, you know, or Bulgarian or whatever Russian. But instead of that, we signed the country signs so [00:52:00] that they would know we were, we were doing this. These were the different countries that the kids all came from and that we all, that as immigrants came from all these places. It's not just about Ukraine. It's not just about Mexico. It's not just, but that all of us here came from somewhere. You know, uh, except of course the Native Americans who were Native Americans, but, uh, at any rate, um, uh, I know I lost the train of thought, but, but it was, it's, um, the idea that, that we went from just her over here, signing a show and me doing, you know, performing the show to us collaborating throughout the show, um, so that, And I, and I do understand that a lot of times that's not. The way it's supposed to be that interpreters are interpreters and that's it. They're over here [00:53:00] and the deaf people sit in that area so that they can watch the show, but also see the interpreters right there. I totally understand that, but they are, they are. Separate in my show because so often Rachel is a part of the part of my life that's being sung about like in still standing the song Lazy Day, which Rachel was referring to is a song that I sing as her and mine and the sound system has me talking to her. So it's me talking to myself, but Rachel's interpreting. And so I thought, why would she sit over there, if she's actually, you know, the person? So, it just began to be more interactive. But my feeling is, if theater could be more interactive, and Greti Goodtime was interactive, that we can do, and, and that Playwrights Horizons, they tried the experiment of, um, I Was Most Alive With You, the Craig, Craig [00:54:00] Lucas, Lucas play that Russell was written for Russell Harvard. They had deaf actors on an upper level and Russell deaf actor with the hearing actors downstairs. It was an experiment. But me, I say, let's get us all together. and see what we create. And I know there's other shows that are experimenting and have always been experimenting with it. Rev. Rachel Hollander: But, and I know, I know Keith, you haven't gotten a question in for a really long time, but I want to add, I want to add to that, that with sign stage, it was always very creatively done because it was spoken English and sign language on the same stage. Um, sometimes we were same coming, which is signing and speaking at the same time. Although we tried to avoid that. Um, but sometimes that happened, but similar to, um, Russell show when we did glass menagerie. The set on the floor was the deaf actors, and then the hearing actors who [00:55:00] voiced them were sitting up in a bar. It was set up as a bar above the stage where Tom would be in both worlds. So Tom would go to his home and then he would come up to the bar and hang out with the voice actors. And we would, so we bridged the gap there. Um, with Miracle Worker, we had shadow interpreters. So I was with Annie Sullivan the whole time, just following her around. Um, the, the interpreter for Captain Keller in Miracle Worker was actually a deaf man who was his shadow interpreter. And so he had visual cues. The actor playing Captain Keller, the hearing actor playing Captain Keller, would do visual cues to let Aaron know where he was in the line. I'm going to pick up the glass here. I'm going to turn my shoulder here so Aaron could be right with him. So there are so many creative ways to use interpreters. Um, there's also straight up, you know, A lecture, you don't want to interact with the interpreter in a lecture [00:56:00] or mostly in a comedy show. My rule is don't talk to me. Um, however, with theater and with music, there is the possibility of this beautiful collaboration that I think is possible. Okay, Keith, we're going to let you ask a question. So, Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Rachel, when would the first time you Noticed your older sister's brilliance and how did her brilliance motivate Rev. Rachel Hollander: you? Two, two very interesting questions. When did I notice and when did it inspire? So, um, we sang together as children. Um, we had, there's a picture of us on a local talent show called Jean Carroll, where I was four. So that made Lisa [00:57:00] seven. Anita 10 or 11 and Celia 13. And, um, and Anita was always our, our director. She was, she was the big sister. She took charge. She, she was our spokesperson and I was not the Anita Hollander: oldest, but I was the front man, basically. Rev. Rachel Hollander: She was the bossy, bossy pants. Um, And we all were doing theater as well. My first time on a stage was in Fiddler on the Roof where Anita played Chava and I played Bielka. So I always like looked at her as like, wow, this is somebody who, who just goes up on stage. I think I can go up on stage too. And, um, And so that was kind of like, that's what got me to New York. When I lived in New York for a hot minute in the eighties, I went there to go to performing arts school because. Anita did it. I'm sure I can do it. Not so much. Um, however, in those three [00:58:00] years, I got to perform with Anita at 88s and The Duplex and Don't Tell Mama. I got to meet people who are now creating all of the musical theater on Broadway and sing their songs. I got to meet Michael, our beloved Michael. Um, so in those short three years, I really got a flavor for what her life was like, and I knew that wasn't my life. So it was like, well, good on ya, you know, um, inspiration wise, and we're going to go a little dark here. Are you ready? Here we go. We're going to go a little dark. Uh, while I lived in New York for those short 3 years, um, I was hospitalized in a psych unit for 5 and a half months for depression. Um, and it was a bit of a debacle. Um, and Anita would come see me pretty much every day. And one of the nurses, my beloved Georgie, actually had to tell her, [00:59:00] You need to stop coming because I looked at Anita as this courageous, powerful, vibrant human being who lives on one leg, who survived cancer twice, and instead of seeing that as a goal, I was constantly comparing myself and so the depression was getting worse because I just felt so lousy about myself. I, I'm not like, I'm not like Anita. I'm not strong like Anita. I can't do what she did. Why should, why am I living, you know? And so while Anita was coming there every day and showing me so much love, I was sliding down into a pit that they couldn't get me out of. And so they had to lovingly and firmly say. You have to stop visiting your sister. That was so painful. Anita Hollander: I just want to throw that in there. It was for me because I didn't know, I didn't know the other side of it. Why? I just like, why are you telling me, you know, Georgie, [01:00:00] who we all loved, why are you telling me, what do you mean? I can't come and visit my sister. Now I'll shut up, but it was painful. And Rev. Rachel Hollander: I write about that in my book as well, where I just, it was, it was. It was so difficult to see my sister as this amazing inspiration and to also weaponize that her inspiration became a weapon against me that I was using on myself. And, um, so, as I've worked on healing, and as I've learned to navigate this life of going in and out of the darkness, um, now, when I interpret her shows. People will say to me, you know, wow, your sister is such an inspiration and I can actually embrace that and say, yeah, yeah, you think, you know, and, and there's no comparison. And I think part of that revelation for me came from interpreting songs like the pain and the [01:01:00] choice. Which was my revelation, my realization, wow, I also was there and, and I'm also here. I'm also still standing. I'm also still living. Okay. That's, that's the message is there are going to be times that are dark as hell and those times don't last forever. And then you can write a song about them and you can move forward and you can look back on those and go, okay, like I like to say, you know, in times when I still slip, I had a really rough December and I remind myself every day, you have a hundred percent, uh, success rate of survival. Rachel, you have a hundred percent success rate. So lean on that. Lean on that accolade. I have 100 percent success rate of living. Um, so yeah, so [01:02:00] that's, so now her inspiration, now she's very inspiring to me. And it's just, it was an interesting journey that that inspiration took. But of Anita Hollander: course she inspires me too, because Rachel has actually talked, literally talked people off ledges. She has, well, it's still to me sounds like, you know, it's like she's has the ability to talk someone out of. jumping. And she did this at a hotel, someone she didn't know. So she inspires me and plus she just adds and she writes her own songs too. And she has a really beautiful voice, which people know this about. And when she started writing songs, she's come a really long way with her song writing. It has gotten richer and deeper. So I think, I think we go a little back and forth on that inspiration thing. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: I'm so glad that [01:03:00] we're changing to the meat and potatoes of the episode. Have you to the Musical dynamic duo that you all ever thought of co-writing a musical together after Anita Finn, her third personal Rev. Rachel Hollander: musical. I think the danger of that, Keith, is we're both a little bit of bossy pants. . Joey, Keith Murfee-DeConcini: my Cohot next . Plug that in there. But yeah, no. No, I can appreciate that. Although, I'm also a musician in one of my other lives, one of my [01:04:00] other jobs, and I've always loved collaborative music. Thank you. Because I can't write music. I can write lyrics. No problem. I'm, I was born a poet. I will die a poet. But Music is just beyond me, and so that collaborative nature, so that's probably out of the long shot. Anita, have you ever thought of writing your own autobiography or your own memoir? Yes, you can! You can see the shows as your autobiography, but have [01:05:00] you ever thought about following in your sister's footsteps and writing your own? Anita Hollander: Yeah, that's interesting. Even Michael, um, The last time I visited Michael before he died, he said, I need to stop writing musicals, write a book. He had stacks of books on his coffee table. I mean, he was very ill. He had these stacks, Gilda Radner, um, all these various books about people going through a struggle and surviving or what, or not like Gilda. Um, but what they did and how they, he said, Okay. A book is what people need. Nobody needs a musical. Stop writing your musicals and write a book. That's what you need to do. And this was, this was 1990, 1991. I mean, that's like a lot of years ago. So that was the first person who did that. Um, I, uh, I have a social worker that I [01:06:00] talked to, you know, like to go deal with stuff and we're dealing with some issues, medical issues here, uh, at home. And, um, and she was like, yeah. When are you going to write a book about this? I mean, you have like so many things. And I think when when Rachel's book came out, I was like, I don't have the patience. I have a lot of energy to write musicals because I love sitting at a piano and figuring it out, you know, and just like letting it just pour out of me. That comes naturally and I'm a good writer. I'm actually a good writer, but, um, you know, I've written speeches that I've written, like, lectures and things like, but. But to sit down and put it all together. And it's funny because this particular social worker, I said, you know, part of my other job is I work with authors, you know, we could work on. Then I thought my most recent thought is [01:07:00] that balance a footnote, which is the title of my third show that perhaps. In a way, that may end up being my book, you know, end up being the book, um, Karen Mannheim, wonderful actress who right now is on Law and Order, the, the reboot of Law and Order. She's I think the police chief, maybe, um, wonderful actress who fluently speaks English. Signs ASL. Um, Rev. Rachel Hollander: back when we, Anita Hollander: Oh, totally. She's an expert at it. But back in 1992, when she and I did Wojciech at the public theater with Joanne Acolytis directing, um, I met Cameron on the first day. I was a little intimidated. She was such a strong woman. She rode a motorcycle to work and she had leather and some chains. I mean, she was a, she was imposing. But then the moment we had our first conversation, she was like this kitten. She was the [01:08:00] sweetest human being. And then I found out that she'd worked with the deaf theater company and she signed, but she had written something, a one woman show called, um, something like I'm fat, Hey, I'm fat or something like that. Wake up, wake up. I'm fat. And it was a one woman show, not a musical book, the show, which. At 11 p. m. at night at the public, they would show people's, like, experimental things. So we would do a performance of 11 o'clock she was doing her show upstairs in one of the smaller theaters, studio spaces. And that became her book. And, you know, shortly after, when, when she Oh, did the practice, um, when she got the TV series, the practice, which was kind of her big Hollywood break. Anyway, um, she, uh, she put that show as the book. And so that is what I've been thinking because still standing [01:09:00] is in a book is published. It's published in a book called, um, it has a really long title, but, um, always forget the name of the book, but, but it's, um. The, the connection of disability and theater, and it's a, it's an anthology of theater where, um, where disability and theater meet really mad that I cannot think of this book that my, my play is in. But, um. But they have the full text of Still Standing in, which has been really great because people can go and find it and read, read the show. So I think eventually you're right. It has to go into a book, everything. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So that's an interesting point because Richard's about to say compiling Still [01:10:00] Standing. Spectacular Falls, Imbalance of Foot, even though those are musicals and you can include all the music into itself, it would be a multimedia, that, that is basically the memoir Which is not like any other memoir or autobiography that a person would read. But that would be, late to me, very true to who you are, Anita, creatively. And [01:11:00] that's a book that I will buy 30 copies easily and give to my friends as Christmas gifts. It would just be astounding so you basically already written your autobiography you should have to compile it or put the cds together maybe re record a few songs and then publish it. So, there's that idea. Anita Hollander: It's a great idea. The, um, Primary Stages Theatre, Casey Childs, is doing a, um, an audio, well, is doing, um, video interviews to do the history of Off Broadway. And, It's going, [01:12:00] it's this wonderful, amazing, um, compiling of people like Austin Pendleton and Joanne Acolytis and all of the people who created Off Broadway and who has have moved it along. And he's including me in this. So, um, we've spent hours of interviewing like this and I realized in preparing for those and in speaking with My history in off Broadway and and in theater in general, I realized I have it and I have the beginnings of an autobiography already written as far as my life in the theater, and it's also people can click and see. me talk about it, but it also reminded me that all these things, my shows and that interviews and stuff like that helps me organize my thoughts to put something out like that. And, and I think that I would want to do that. I once pursued, um, children's book [01:13:00] publishing to, to do mommy is a mermaid, which is a song from still standing as an illustrated children's book with the song as a CD at the end. You know, nowadays, CDs, not a thing anymore, but, um, but, and I had a young, young artist. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: You couldn't bring them Anita Hollander: into a Keith Murfee-DeConcini: gallery, Anita. You can do anything. Anita Hollander: Well, I had this young artist, um, start doing some, some beautiful, uh, illustrations and I submitted them to a publisher and they were like, well, we, we do young people's books. That's what we do, but we don't do actual picture. Books of children's books with songs, but she said, but there is a market for that. If you can find the people who do it, I was like, well, that's not helping me much, but I do eventually want that. Rev. Rachel Hollander: I wanted to jump back in just for a second. Um, to go back to your question [01:14:00] about collaborating keys, cause so there are times when I forget all the things that I've done in my life. And that's part of the problem is like, there are moments when I'm like, Oh yeah, I did that. And I actually do have a one woman show about my experience of living with depression called choose again a journey to wholeness and a really awesome idea title. Thank you. Thank you. And, um, I've always like one really great idea. Would be for Anita and I to collaborate on an evening of our shows so she could do one of her shows and I could interpret and then I could do choose again and she could interpret that. Um, or we could get, you know, an interpreter in to interpret that. But the idea of, um, I did submit it once to United solo artists, and I did not get chosen which is okay, which is okay but I've done it a few times I did it for a NAMI, uh, [01:15:00] National Alliance of Mental Illness Conference and, and the cool thing about, um, the show that, that I've created is that it evolves because when I first created it, I thought I was healed. And so it was a little bit egotistical and a little bit, uh, I'm all over depression. I'm done with it. And so since then it has evolved to continue the story. But so I wanted to get back to that just because I was like, Oh, wait a minute, we could collaborate. We could do an evening of Hollander stories. Anita Hollander: Yeah, and it wouldn't have to be whole show, whole show. It could be pieces that, that tell a history that could even even tell our own history through our own journeys. I mean, that's good idea, rich. Good idea, Keith. See, this is what Keith, this is what Keith's magic is all about. Yes, folks, [01:16:00] listening out there. Keep listening to Keith because he's the idea man. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Well, I will try not to let that go to my ego. Anita Hollander: Oh, let it go. Let it in there. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: If there are any advocates or performers just starting out journeying, listening, or watching arts, what would be some action step that Each of you would imply to them. Anita Hollander: Uh, I can say, uh, uh, Rachel was just about to say something. Okay, um, I, um, there's a young actress named Rachel Handler, which I think, Keith, I think you've actually interviewed her. Yes. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, two weeks. Anita Hollander: When she first got to [01:17:00] New York, she was a very new amputee. Uh, she had, this had been brand new for her. And, um, I recognized myself a little in her coming, coming to New York, a new amputee, a performer, a singer, a dancer, actor, and all that stuff. And what, what she has found. Her way into is the, um, the Easterseals disability film challenge. She started making her own every, all of us make our own films, uh, you know, uh, once a year in April, and this has helped people get TV series. Films Marvel hero roles. Um, I mean, it's, it's. Helped Nick Novicki did a great service to the business when he came up with this because he wasn't getting enough work and he put it out there for everybody. Let's just make five minute films. Well, Rachel Handler has excelled at this and she's written some screenplays as well, which I've done readings of. And she has also, as this young woman, who's like half my age, [01:18:00] um, She supported my work. She brought me out to New Jersey to do my show, you know, and I like supporting her work because it's, uh, it's really good stuff. And I think that's been her. She's a great example of younger artists, uh, starting out and finding a way to make their voice heard, but also through making their voice heard, they're showing their talents. And she has managed to do that. So she's a good example to look at. And you can look at it online. You can go look her up and see what she's doing. Um, I've seen a lot of deaf actors creating things. Garrett Zurcher. Oh, my gosh. He's a director, just got his directing degree at Hunter. And, um, he sees things his own way. And I saw his phalloptides, um, deaf version of phalloptides, the Greek version The guy who was left. He was a warrior who was left on an island because he got [01:19:00] injured and it was like the island of broken toys bake basically. Um, and, and he wrote his own deaf version of it with John John McGinty. Oh my God. Oh, the wonderful actor and John McGinty the gorgeous actor did this beautiful thing. People are getting out there. For a long time, Keith, I was by myself, in a category by myself. Why would you do a musical about losing a leg, first of all? Why would you continue to be a performer once you've lost a leg? And I went back on stage four weeks after I lost my leg, doing a show in Boston that had nothing to do with disability, with Jacques Brel. Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in Paris, was the show. And, um, I, I was born in a trunk, meaning I was born to be an actor. I was born to do what I do to direct to do those. So this is, this is what comes naturally to me, but for everyone who's out there who has, um, I mean, [01:20:00] Garrett is writing and collaborating, directing shows. Here on the East Coast, not Deaf West, um, creating theater, uh, in, for the, of, about Deaf culture and for Deaf and hearing audiences. Um, these are some of the examples. Oh, and of course, Ryan Haddad and, um, and Greg Moscala and all these wonderful folks. Monique Holt doing, um, uh, Deaf. Deaf film festivals out in the West Coast. I, I taught a course at the Dramatists, for the Dramatists Guild, on, um, writing theater, uh, playwriting with disability in mind, focus. And I had Monique on, and I had Greg on. And, and, um, all of these Wonderful. I mean, I, I push a lot more women, Christine Bruno, people, people who are out there, not just, not just [01:21:00] doing theater because she's doing cost of living right now, Katie Sullivan, who's doing Richard the third at Chicago Shakespeare, double amputee, and she won awards for cost of living here in New York. That's what I do. I advocate and encourage and support this a new generation and sometimes people don't notice who was like doing this for the past 40 years because that was me and sometimes people don't realize that there was someone who's who may who opened those doors and fought with the equity league and fought with the Broadway League and and came up against casting directors who now like we're you. Thank God they liked me because now, now we have a great relationship, but I was pushing the envelope out there and film and television with all the diversity directors of the networks and the film studios and oftentimes feeling that I was jeopardizing my career [01:22:00] by speaking up. The way I spoke up was, Hey, if we work together, you're going to get a bigger audience because you're going to get the disabled audience and they have money to spend and their sponsors will love them and your commercials and everything. And there'll be money. It's money. I'll make money out of this. And they took that advice and ran with it. And now we see so much more happening. And I, I just like, I did have part of that just in case anybody didn't know, but, um, That's what I spend my life doing is encouraging the next generation to take, to take these on. And the doors have been opening, but I've always said to everybody, if you're not getting enough work, like Nick Novicki, if you're not getting enough work, write it yourself and find whatever stage you can find, find whatever audience you can find. And nowadays you can do that online. We didn't have [01:23:00] that. We didn't have a way of doing that we had to find a live place to get ourselves out or make our own, uh, film or video and send it out. You know, but, you know, it was a different kind of camera. You can just take your phone out and make a film or tick tock or something and then get a million likes or go viral. These things did not exist. for most of my lifetime. So it was really about showing up at auditions. It's still is about showing a bit of auditions, by the way, for performers, um, getting yourself out there. And for me, cabaret was a real foot in the door. And since I only have one foot, it got me in the door. So like here in New York was to take. Because I was, because I could write songs and got accepted into the BMI musical theater workshop and the ASCAP theater workshop. That was another way, I was taking all these routes [01:24:00] just to get, to get work. Whatever I could do, show up at auditions, write my own stuff, sing other people's stuff. In a cabaret act at don't tell mamas or the duplex or any or 88 bring in people that I met along the way here at Manhattan Plaza. Thank God. I live in midtown Manhattan at Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan. Plus, neighbors are all artists, you know, incorporate people into what you do so that people can see your work and so you can get. Work and it's it all really is an effort to get work. Rachel. What were you going to say? Rev. Rachel Hollander: I was going to say as far as theatrical interpreting and and wanting to get into interpreting for musicians or Speakers or theater is look towards your mentors look towards the people who are Already doing it. People like Stephanie Fain in New York, who is this quiet, [01:25:00] mighty giant of theatrical interpreting and, um, and ask the questions. One of my interpreting partners from Alaska will email me and say, Hey, we just got come from away. How many interpreters do you think we need? How would you sign this? I've got interpreter collaborators in Boise, Idaho, who and, you know, when because Great Lakes. is Sister City with Boise. And so when I interpret a show for Great Lakes, I'll send my notes out to them and say, Hey, the show is coming out to you. Here's what I did for this. Or they'll ask, you know, how do you do to be or not to be collaborate, find mentors, um, you know, and, and just talk to other interpreters and, and see what they say. Um, and take it or leave it, you know, sometimes I'll get guidance that it's like, Not for me, and that's okay. That's okay. The important thing is to, the important thing is [01:26:00] to, to reach out and connect with each other. Um, and I'm, and I'm going to say 1 thing that's controversial. Here it comes. Please do not watch the interpreters on YouTube interpreting bands. Just don't watch them because it's usually not a really good example. Talk to people who do this, um, and get different opinions. That's my opinion, get different opinions, see what works for you and what doesn't and, and then of course, work with your deaf audience and see what works for them and what they want. Because some people do want English. Some people do want ASL. It's always going to be different. So just ask the questions. Anita Hollander: And when we think mentors, I should mention one mentor. I don't want this scope because I know how it feels when people forget that I had anything to do. But Kitty Lunn, who had the company, who has the company, Infinity Dance Theater, um, way back when I first [01:27:00] moved to New York, she noticed that I was I'm And the clubs that I was getting press and she was like, uh, here's some stuff that you know, she, she was a real mentor and she fought me for me. Sometimes she put herself in an uncomfortable position. Sometimes she uses a wheelchair. She was getting ready to rehearse a Broadway show when she slipped on some ice after doing an episode on a soap opera and never walked again, but she danced and she has this. So to me, it's really important to, to know that you have mentors and she was pushed me into the, into the union, into the committee, into being a leader and all that stuff. And Kitty fought for us the way I fought that I. continue to fight for folks. And she has, and I wouldn't, I would be remiss if I didn't mention when Rachel said mentors, that was like kitty. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: [01:28:00] So what do you hold people with disabilities away from this episode? And what do you hold people to their Rev. Rachel Hollander: I'm going to jump right in, um, and just say, be kind to interpreters because we are in fact a dying breed. Um, there has been so much a controversy, um, and some pushback, uh, with interpreters. Well, there was a controversy with an interpreter on Broadway, and that was, I won't even bring it up just because that was the interpreter's fault. However, um, there are times when. You know, an [01:29:00] interpreter is not up to, up to snuff and that instead of encouraging that interpreter and offering ways to get them up to snuff, there can sometimes be just flat out criticism about their abilities. Which makes them quit. And so we're losing. We're actually losing interpreters now because they're tired of being yelled at. And so if you're at a show, you know, and you see an interpreter, and, you know, sign language, or you're a deaf patron, and that interpreter isn't doing. The best work they could do, talk to them, offer help, offer support. Don't just go, wow, that interpreter sucked. No, go up to that interpreter and say, listen, you know what you need? Do some training on facial expression. Do some training on really translating the script. Stop signing English. Really understand, tell the story, be present. You know, offer [01:30:00] encouragement to the theatrical interpreters. Because we really do just want to deliver the story. And some of some are better than others at doing that. So help those who are not good at it yet. Help those who need encouragement. Um, and I would say to those who are thinking about becoming interpreters, take acting classes. Take theater training, make that part of your interpreter training, because even if you're not a theatrical interpreter, nobody wants to sit in a history class, watching an interpreter do this for 2 hours with no facial expression, get some facial expression. You're telling history. So, even if it's not straight up theatrical interpreting, when I interpret anthropology or chemistry, or, you know, other college classes. I try to engage because I want I want there to be Anita Hollander: engagement. So that would be it is, um, encourage interpreters. Rachel, the 1st lesson at the sign language center is [01:31:00] that your face is part of your interpretation that you cannot sign with your hands and not your face. Your face tells the story. I love that. Part of the training is that I would suck at the hand stuff. And my teacher would say. But you told the story, you told the story with your, with your face and she would point it out to everybody. She's really bad with the hands. She's not remembering any of her son. Did you see, you understood because she's telling you the story with her face. So, and, and that was when I was told that actors make the best interpreters because they do use their face. They do engage their emotions. They engage it's. It's not one of those skills that you disengage on. It's just not. And I'm glad Rachel mentioned it. The thing that I, um, would like people to take from this, first of all, I would like them to hear all the names that we're mentioning because some of these people are [01:32:00] leaders and they deserve all the attention. The other thing is self identification. It's a controversial thing. How can I get an acting job if I've already identified as having autism? How can I get an acting job if I identify that I have an invisible disability that may never come up? How can I get an acting job if I have, if I visibly move a certain way, not like anybody else? How is that going to help me if I put that on my resume? How are they going to, they're going to look at that and they're going to throw the resume out? Well, not true anymore. I would like to just say not true anymore. If I could tell you how many times casting directors now consult with me to find that person who's right for this role, who's authentically disabled because they can't find someone. Self identify. If you're in the union, [01:33:00] self identify. There's a place in the union where you put your account and your self, your details about yourself. Self identify because the more of us who have self identified, the more of us who do say, yes, I have a disability and this is a boom. This is, this will enhance this character. This will enhance your diversity casting. This will bring in more of an audience. The more you do that. The more we get employed. Eric Grace, double amputee, now a beautiful black actor. Oh my God, he's so beautiful. And in Triple Threat, he can sing opera and rock and dance as well. But he's now on, um, I think it's, um, oh, Tracker, the new, new series called Tracker. Uh, he's the guy who does all the computer stuff and everything. But the first appearance of him on the series, just about a week ago or two. Is him walking on both his artificial legs to his [01:34:00] office, we see him on metal. Uh, you know, it doesn't have covers like my beautiful like, like, you can tell these are two artificial legs, he walks down the hall, and then he goes into his thing. And then so that right up front. This is a double amputee, Daryl chill Mitchell. In a wheelchair, you know, I would like to see more women in these roles. Um, and there are deaf women are doing fairly well in light. Well, it's a new Amsterdam had a deaf deaf doctor who was female. I mean, there's. This is, this is what they're doing to show that their show is diverse. So get in there and tell them you're part of that population. It didn't used to be true. People felt they were shooting themselves in the foot to self identify. But I'm telling, now I'm on council at equity. Um, having done my 40 years with SAG AN after and all that. It's like. And I'm realizing, you know, I'm telling this people the same thing, [01:35:00] um, tell people you have something that's unique and different that will add quality to your production or, you know, that's so self identify and self writing and direct make you create your own, um, content, create your own and find it. Find your audience and nowadays you can find your audience online. So lucky. Um, but you know, that's That's I hope people hear what we're saying because what Rachel is saying is so valuable and in a way that nobody's been talking about that. And with me, I've been shouting this to the rooftops for a long time. Well, Rev. Rachel Hollander: and I want to add on at the end about self identifying and also making your own product. Russell Harvard is putting out video after video and it's brilliant and it's beautiful. And I've known Russell a very long time and. It's [01:36:00] so exciting to see him just exploding onto social media and, um, he's a rock Anita Hollander: star and the stage and film and television. Oh, my God. Yes. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Well, I want to thank you both. And it's a bit so good. Let go another two. Without running out of material, I can give you to come while we shut up and let you guys just talk because It's really fantastic and invigorating, or maybe all my co hosts should talk. Anyway, [01:37:00] I appreciate and admire both of you, and I look forward to seeing both of you in person. Hopefully very soon you do all the musical theater dynamic duels, ladies in my eyes, and I wish you both all the best. Rev. Rachel Hollander: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you, Keith, for the time and your patience. Thank you. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Take care.

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