Hearthside Salons with PageCraftWriting
Michael Mack - Writer, Actor, Director - Euripides, Cervantes, Jim Crow

Michael Mack - Writer, Actor, Director - Euripides, Cervantes, Jim Crow

June 27, 2020

Beside breaking boundaries as the first black Romulan in Star Trek history, Michael Mack led a life of service and craft. From a family with preacher roots, Michael grew up ministering to the less fortunate. When he returned to the DC area he became renowned for his work with at-risk youth in communities of color. His method was using theatre training to allow kids access to speak their truths. He talks about theatre from the ancient Greeks onward as social policy and how many historical atrocities were not based in difference but in sameness. He shares how the Man of La Mancha unlocks the central truth: the way forward is not to think of life as it is but life as it should be. 

Michael discusses Septimius Severus, the first African senator in Rome, in this "family portrait"

Michael discusses the film Becket as an example of the Saxons versus the Normans

Michael recommends the book Racism: A Short History

We discuss his favorite teaching tool: Don Quixote/The Man Of La Mancha, book and film

Michael's film about MLK: The Drum Major

The influence of the Roots miniseries

Trisha Nelson's Black stories essential viewing lists articles one and two

Durga McBroom - Singer, Songwriter - Pandemic, Riots, and Murder Hornets - The perfect cradle for creativity

Durga McBroom - Singer, Songwriter - Pandemic, Riots, and Murder Hornets - The perfect cradle for creativity

June 22, 2020

Singer Songwriter and Actress Durga McBroom has performed backing vocals for Pink Floyd and is a member of the house music band Blue Pearl, best known for their hit single "Naked in the Rain". She’s also a badass and activist who speaks out against racism around the world. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Durga finds this unrest a good time to be a passionate creative. She talks about her formation as an artist and how encountering racism at a young age pushed her toward a different path. 

A note to listeners: this episode contains adult language and themes. 

Durga and I met when I was directing her for this music video in the desert.

In educating ourselves on race in America, Durga recommends the documentary, Lalee's Kin,

the book White Fragility: Why it's so hard for white people to talk about racism

the article Black Crime Rates When the Numbers Aren't Neutral

the Ava Duvernay documentary 13th.

I recommend The Case For Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates

 

 

Nagin Cox - Mars Exploration Engineer - Mars Needs Women

Nagin Cox - Mars Exploration Engineer - Mars Needs Women

June 18, 2020

When Nagin Cox was born in Bangalore, India she couldn’t have imagined she’d one day have an asteroid named after her. This space-obsessed kid grew up in Kansas City, and Kuala Lumpur.  Her experiences as a girl in a multicultural household showed her how easily we separate ourselves based on gender, race, or nationality, and inspired her to do something that brings people together. Now as a Tactical Mission Lead on the Mars Curiosity Rover, international and TedTalk speaker, Nagin loves to share the wonders of space with the world.

There are a lot of ways you can get involved with space:

JPL

The Mars Lander Program

You can follow Nagin's work on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter

You can check out her TedxTalk: What Time Is It On Mars?

Find inspiration with Carl Sagan's Cosmos, or Star Trek, or Chesley Bonestell

Learn more about Nagin's favorite organization: Human Rights Watch

Learn more about the self defense training where Nagin and I met

 

Michael Mack - Writer, Actor, Director - Boldly going where no (black) man has gone before: Star Trek, spirituality, creativity

Michael Mack - Writer, Actor, Director - Boldly going where no (black) man has gone before: Star Trek, spirituality, creativity

June 4, 2020

As we cope with a pandemic and wrestle with national and global unrest following the murder to George Floyd, actor and writer Michael Mack and I sat down to search for a little light. As the first Black Romulan in Star Trek history, Michael is a trailblazer and he’s part of a show that’s a cultural touchstone for so many of us. A show that, from its inception, dealt with racial issues in America through the metaphor of SciFi.

Michael asserts that success isn’t about what you can get. You have to decide: what’s your contribution to the craft, and to the world. and then live with faith in that. In this peculiar and painful moment in American history, Michael starts by drawing parallels with now and the Civil Rights marches of 1968.

Conversation and Q&A has been edited for time and clarity.

We obviously talk a lot about Star Trek: The Next Generation

And Michael's episode: The Pegasus

His mentors Jeri Taylor, Brannon Braga, Ron D Moore

Working with LeVar Burton

And someday, taking over for James Earl Jones as Darth Vader.

On an early mentor's advice, he entered The Nicholl. He attributes part of his early success to doing well there.

And he recommends the documentary What We Left Behind regarding the African American experience in Star Trek.

We also touch on the seminal nuclear power movie: The China Syndrome

 

Rob Latimer - Mental Performance Consultant - Hunter, Gatherer, Accountant, Nurse: the psychology of stress and mental performance in the modern world

Rob Latimer - Mental Performance Consultant - Hunter, Gatherer, Accountant, Nurse: the psychology of stress and mental performance in the modern world

May 29, 2020

As we collectively face a global pandemic, many people are experiencing extremely high levels of chronic stress in their lives brought about by uncertainty and change. Even under normal circumstances, our response to stress often prevents us from performing at our best. But since stress is such a universal part of the human experience, why is that the case? The short answer is because the way we respond to stress is suited for a very different type of stress than we usually face in the modern world. Join us as Rob Latimer, discusses the historical, biological, and psychological dimensions of the human stress response and provides practical instruction on several different techniques we can use to reduce and manage its negative effects.

We talk about Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

We also talk about Valerie Hager's thoughts about empathy for strangers

And Heidi Harris' thoughts on communication and conflict

You can improve your own performance working with Rob

and follow his photography too

Heidi Harris - Applied Behavioral Science Expert - The Emotionality of Polarization

Heidi Harris - Applied Behavioral Science Expert - The Emotionality of Polarization

May 26, 2020

How do we get through this when we’re all so angry and sure we’re right? What’s coming next?

The ability to create understanding between people is crucial for relationships. It's especially important in today's heightened environment of polarization. Our emotional reactions can lead to defensiveness, anger, and divisiveness, or to deeper human connectedness, dialogue, and collaboration. The choice is ours. Heidi provides insights and tools for coming out of this with relationships intact.

Conversation and Q&A has been edited for time and clarity

Heidi and I talk about her formative understanding of others at French Camp.

We talk about principles covered by Patrick Lencioni in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

We also talk about Chris Argyris' Ladder Of Inference and how it shapes our reactions. 

And the Awareness Wheel as a tool to foster communication. 

And her mentor Russ Hamilton

Molly Sweeney - Author, Political Scientist - The Black Flag of ISIS: Living Within the World’s Best Organized Terrorist State

Molly Sweeney - Author, Political Scientist - The Black Flag of ISIS: Living Within the World’s Best Organized Terrorist State

May 24, 2020

Molly Sweeney is a researcher and author who specializes in the Middle East. Her upcoming non-fiction book, You Must Understand, tells the story of the Islamic State through the eyes of civilians in Iraq and Syria. History and culture sections frame the narratives of the interviews of those most impacted by ISIS. Analyzing the socio-political factors that led to the emergence and proliferation of the Islamic State, Ms. Sweeney invites readers into a nuanced understanding of stories of resilience, courage, and heartbreak.

Conversation and Q&A has been edited for time and clarity.

More on Molly's book

And Naomi McDougall Jones' book which is how we met.

 

Paul Whitehead - Playing with Perceptions: The Art of Creating Identity

Paul Whitehead - Playing with Perceptions: The Art of Creating Identity

May 13, 2020

The artist Paul Whitehead came of age in Swinging Sixties Britain and was on the front lines of massive cultural shifts. He’s the founding art director of Time Out London and is known for creating album covers for the band Genesis. Never comfortable being defined as just one thing, Paul developed an alter ego as the artist Tricia Van Cleef who creates works in a style all her own. Join us as we talk about gender, art, creative spirit, and playing with perceptions. 

Conversation and Q&A has been edited for time and clarity.

A note to listeners: this conversation touches on sexuality and gender identity. 

We talk about:

Paul's own art as well as Trisha's

His film about Picasso and the ephemeral nature of art.

His album work with Genesis: Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot

The cover for Van der Graaf Generator's Pawn Hearts

The founding of Time Out London

And the Bhagavad Gita

Valerie Hager - Performer, story coach, former exotic dancer - Finding your fire and bringing your beast forward

Valerie Hager - Performer, story coach, former exotic dancer - Finding your fire and bringing your beast forward

May 4, 2020
My friend Valerie Hager reminds me that we go to the theater to be woken up and brought back to life. She would know. She’s an award-winning solo show performer and director who’s now a sought after solo show coach. She works through a unifying principle: bring your beast forward. Anything less won’t move an audience. Anything less isn’t real. She talks today about this need for story tellers to crack their hearts open, and the value of radical empathy. She’s learned a lot about human nature. 
 
She used to be a stripper. In Alaska. She mined all of her experiences there for her show “Naked In Alaska” She says there is gold dust under the pain. That underneath it all, we all just want to be seen, forgiven, and held. 
 
[EXPLICIT] A note to listeners: This episode deals with sexuality, drug use, and adult situations. It contains some adult language.
 
Learn more about Valerie's art
Her Insta gives daily inspiration and fierceness
One of her greatest inspirations: Women Who Run With The Wolves
and Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird
We discussed the power of vulnerability like Brene Brown's talk
Sarah Yeomans and Rob Latimer - How does epidemic change storytelling?

Sarah Yeomans and Rob Latimer - How does epidemic change storytelling?

April 28, 2020
As a story teller I’m interested both in what stories I need to tell and what stories people want to hear. When a question came up in our April 7 salon about how the collective trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic could impact the nature of storytelling, we thought it merited exploration. Now archeologist and researcher specialist in ancient epidemics Sarah Yeomans and I are joined by Rob Latimer, historian, writer and teacher as we delve into this. 
 
As we’ll discuss, how we communicate these events can be critical to policy and societal shift in the brief window that we’ll have before we'll want to forget and move on. We could be poised for a golden age of story not unlike the modernist period of the 1920s. 
 
Useful links to things referenced in the episode:
Our April 7th episode that produced this inquiry
Lynn Ferguson's live storytelling class, Fish & Bear
Past epidemics have produced books like Love in the Time of Cholera, Pale Horse, Pale Rider, and of course the grandaddy of all plague books, the Decameron
Past traumas have produced films like United 93 and Philadelphia and every WW2 movie ever. But sometimes a remove is needed as in the case of MASH set in the Korean War but about the Vietnam War.
Superheroes give us a sense of order and protection but what happens when they are as corrupt as the forces they're supposed to be saving us from as in Amazon's excellent The Boys  
Finally, storytellers are already processing this into story as with this American Quarantined in Paris