Joanna Lipari

How it Began

In 2009, my marriage fell apart when I discovered my husband was having an affair. I was completely devastated.  I had stopped acting some 10 years earlier to return to graduate school for my doctoral degree in psychology which I received from Pepperdine University.  After that, I did my post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA and stayed on their teaching. I had a small private practice and then my world fell apart.  I didn’t know what to do.  I left UCLA and stopped taking new private patients.  Eventually, I closed my practice. Now what?  The only job I ever really wanted to do was acting …. And now “suddenly single”, I decided to return to acting.  A close friend who was a casting director, suggested I seek out Rogue Machine Theatre because they did new plays and also had this monthly thing called “Rant & Rave.” The R&R producers would choose 6-7 writers who would writer 1500 word stories and then read them to a packed audience.  It was basically a monthly fundraiser for Rogue Machine. 

Well, I started hanging around Rogue and was lucky enough to be asked to write a story.  And I did…about my marriage ending.  It was called “Divorce Is Hilarious, After You Stop Crying”.  It went over well that night and I put a tape of that reading on YouTube where it got over 10,000 views!  (Add link here)

 I was shocked. And excited. 

Then about a year later, they asked me to do another one and I wrote “Nuns, Jews and Negroes” and that story also was well received.  I put that tape up on YouTube and it got over 30k views!  (Add link here).

I wanted to keep writing and a dear friend told me about the Big Island Writers Workshop run by the incredibly talented Beth Dunnington.  Every few months she would come to Los Angeles and run a two-day workshop.  Participants were by invitation only.  My friend, Nancy, recommended me and well, the rest is history.

For the next two years, I attended those workshops and wrote and wrote and wrote.  And thought I’d collect my stories in a book.  Beth agreed to be my editor and we started work — organizing and sorting the stories, when one day, Beth asked the most obvious question: Didn’t I really want to be an actor?  And followed up with this question: Why don’t you collect the stories into a one person show?

Brilliant!  And thus, we began working.

 One day, I was watching a documentary about a boy with autism and the filmmakers had used some animation to illustrate the boy’s life.  And I just KNEW that I wanted animation in my show.  Not in a traditional way however.  I wanted the animation to be another character in my show.  Beth loved the idea. After much research and trial and error, we found Ron Diamond and Acme Filmworks and he introduced me to the work of the young, talented Anna Bron.  Together, Beth, Ron, Anna and I developed the animation.

I wanted the show to make a statement about how people, especially women, become more invisible in our culture as they age.  When I worked in geriatric psychology, there was an assessment given to elderly people to see if they could live independently.  The assessment is know as ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING.  Using memoir, I defy culture to erase us as we age…and hopefully, my show delivers a few laughs along the way.

1 thought on “How it Began”

  1. Not sure my message got thru..but you are courage on motion ! carry on ..talking about aging in women is so critical ! Thank you !

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