by Erica Lann-Clark
Here is another Rogue 2015 performer article. This is the final one before Rogue 2015 opens tomorrow! Watch for a bunch of Rogue show reviews starting this weekend. To learn more about this year’s event check out our Rogue 2015 preview article, and check out our Rogue Performer event page to learn about more of the performers this year. You can find all of the Rogue articles as they go up in our Arts & Entertainment section.
I was born Jewish in Vienna, Austria, on the eve of the Nazi invasion and escaped with my parents. Austria was annexed into Germany in less than 2 days, and the Germans began immediately going after the Jews. Austria was home to 192,000 Jews in 1938 when the Germans invaded. 100,000 managed to leave by the end of 1939.
My parents and I ran from country to country till we got to Brooklyn, New York, where I grew up listening to my mom and dad tell vivid stories of their vanished worlds. Their kitchen table tales inspired a passion in me for the power of story.
I grew up, married, raised my family and then, my children grown and gone, I threw caution to the winds! As a volunteer, I began telling stories to children. I told in every classroom in every school in Santa Cruz, where I live.
The children were my teachers. I made them shiver with fright and laugh from delight. And they gave me skills and confidence! I became a nationally known storyteller, performing at major festivals and teaching other tellers. My adult students told some great stories and I told them lots of stories, many funny ones, because I love laughter. It’s truly the best medicine.
I began writing and performing solo plays, and as a solo performer got a reputation as a “spark plug – cracking jokes with pitch perfect timing” and as being “revelatory and bittersweet!” (San Francisco Bay Guardian). I told from my personal experiences, but I never told the story of being a child survivor of the Holocaust. There were lots of adult survivors who could tell much more. But, by now nearly all the adults have passed away, and we child survivors are the only ones left to tell – but to tell what kind of story?
When I was a little kid, I thought my Jewish holocaust was the only one that ever happened, but by now, how many, many I’ve witnessed in my lifetime!
So what can any of us say or do? There must be some other way! That’s what pushed me to work hard, developing, writing, producing and performing my solo play, Still Shopping For God, refining it again and again, and now, bringing it to The Rogue Festival.
Still Shopping For God is my story of how a person just like you or me can turn our fear and our hatred into both personal freedom and personal power. That’s what my show is about and why I’m taking it on tour while I’m still strong enough to go on the road.
I’m thrilled to be bringing this story to Fresno, because William Saroyan is one of my heroes. And the many Armenian families in Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley who suffered under and/or escaped from the Turkish genocide against Armenia know how hard it is to heal the wounds of history. And that’s what I hope my solo play can begin to do.
I named my story Still Shopping For God because aren’t we all looking to connect our souls to The Power and Intelligence that runs this show down here? Stories are how we make sense of our lives. That’s why stories are our shared power. They make our experiences mean something! I’m asking you to help me start the conversation about how and when we express forgiveness, and I promise you’ll laugh, you’ll think – you’ll laugh about thinking! And, if I’m lucky, you’ll even shiver with fright and laugh from delight!
Where and When:
The Voice Shop, 1296 Wishon Avenue, Fresno, CA.
February 28, Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
March 1, Sunday, 5:00 p.m.
March 4, Wednesday, 8:00 p.m.
March 6, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
March 7, Saturday, 8:00 p.m.
More info & to purchase tickets online: roguefestival.ticketleap.com/shoppinggod