Written & Directed by Alana Ruben Free

Produced by White Fire Productions in association with The Drilling Company


Author’s Statement by Alana Ruben Free
My early developmental years were infused with the messages sung out on my FREE TO BE YOU AND ME album (i.e., travel the world, make my own statement, break-free of gender roles) and equally strong broadcasted messages from my “1980s Super-Mom” (i.e., be financially independent, a mother, and look great). After business school, I decided to start my life in Israel, become a writer, and seek out a meaningful spiritual life. In Jerusalem, I absorbed images of womanhood that were new to me, but centuries old: self-abnegation, modesty, and conformity. By twenty-six, in my attempt to fulfill myself and so many different visions of womanhood, I, the onetime Rhodes Scholar finalist, was depressed, anorexic, married, working, religiously observant, and a mother of a child with special needs.

Our wounds become our blessings when we turn them into art. I set out immediately to writing classes and enrolled in graduate school in Jewish Studies with the goal of writing historical plays and fiction. However, as I grappled with healing my splintered inner world, I found myself more and more deeply inspired and captivated by the times I was living in, especially for women. I wanted to share my perspective and experience of healing with the world. I wanted it to be spoken aloud and experienced in a collective container. I decided to write my story as a trilogy of plays.

Knowing that there is too much at stake if men and women do not find their inner strength, authenticity, and new values, I refused to compromise on message for the sake of conventional form, and I believe this is why my work has found such a strong following. So many women and men thank me for saying aloud and clearly what they know in their bones, but is not being broadcast in mainstream media; that the honest complexity of the struggle to assert real humanity and claim one’s individual power is often preceded by a battle with addiction, depression or grave disillusionment.

The work of reclaiming our sexuality, deeper wisdom, spiritual lives, creativity, and individuality is essential to our species’ evolution and survival. I have attempted over the three plays to provide a character struggling and succeeding on each of these levels in her own way.

Director’s Statement

Since becoming a mother myself in 1995, I felt a calling on my life to heal a condition that I inherited from both of my grandmothers. That condition in modern terms is called depression, but my experience has taught me over and over again that words often reduce an experience as much as clarify it. Was their depression after marriage and motherhood merely related to chemistry or to structures that limited their ability to fulfill their own deepest longings and desires? Stories abounded of their courage, strength, and ingenuity in their carefree youthful days: my Nani, before the days of ski lifts, would hike with her skis over her shoulder up the Laurentian Mountains and ski back down; while caring for her siblings and mother, she managed to enjoy life on little means. My Bubbe was sent alone on a boat from Warsaw to Toronto at age 14, leaving behind a large extended family never to be seen alive again. Once arriving in Toronto, she supported herself as a milliner in her own business, until she married my grandfather, Max Ruben. Both of my grandmothers were deeply insecure about their lack of a post-secondary education. My great-grandmother Anna, whom I was named after, was sent as an orphan from Latvia to England.

Few of us our spared tears, when we reflect on the perseverance and heart passed down to us from those who came before us. In my case, the tears of my grandmothers felt like my own, despite being born two generations later. The parallels were often uncanny. I have attempted over the last fifteen years of motherhood to learn from them and make different choices. When my son was less than a year old, I began an arduous graduate degree in Jewish Studies. I divorced when it was evident that I was not in a healthy marriage and began to pursue excavating my voice and expressing it in poetry, monologues, prose, essays, and plays. Throughout that time, I battled an atypical form of anorexia which informed the writing and performance of Beginner at Life. I am not driven so much by the force of my own dreams, but the force of my grandmothers’ dreams and…their unlived lives.

Like Rose, I, too, believe that humans heal and evolve themselves through art.
I want to thank the entire creative team for imbuing their deep hearts and souls into realizing this work of art, but especially the actresses.


VIVIEN LANDAU (Nana).  Off Broadwy:  NY International Fringe Festival: HAPPY BIRTHDAY WANDA JUNE; DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY; ONCE IN A LIFETIME, Peter Bogdanovich, dir; THE GOLDEN SIX with Alvin Epstein;  Obie Award winning CLEREMBARD; INVITATION TO A MARCH; YOU NEVER CAN TELL.  With FROG & PEACH CO:  HAMLET opposite Austin Pendleton;  ROMEO AND JULIET;  RICHARD III.   Regional Theatre: three seasons at NJ Shakespeare Festival, nominated by critics for Best Actress in A Leading Role;  Westport Arts Center;  Boston Post Road Stage Co.  Film: THEY ALL LAUGHED (opposite JohnRitter).  TV: LOVE MONKEY, RESCUE ME, MAKE MY DAY, LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O”BRIEN, LYING, CHEATING, STEALING in AMERICA with SamDonaldson.  Radio plays for THE RING LARDNER THEATRE. On camera and voice over commercials.  Manager: Maude Kaplan Management 212 873 4303
LINDSAY TEED (Eden) recently appeared as Viola in Twelfth Night with The Seeing Place (ATA). Other NY Theater: Distracted (w/ Cynthia Nixon – Roundabout), Dust (Irondale Ensemble Theatre-Tenement Street Workshop), Lights and Music (45th Street Theatre), Success Story, 1931, Men in White, Big Night (ReGroup Theater Co – Neighborhood Playhouse, Irish Rep). Regional: Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis), Ruthless! The Musical (Bloomington Civic Theatre, Minneapolis). Lindsay will appear as the female lead in the independent feature SPENCER, now in post-production. So much gratitude and light to Alana for writing this beautiful play. lindsayteed@aol.com
JACQUELINE KROSCHELL (Jenny and Dr. Ruchwartz) is a lifetime entertainer, singer and actress with Broadway and off-Broadway credits including: Man of La Mancha, Pirates of Penzance, A Christmas Carol, and Tamara, who has toured nationally and internationally in concert and opera. Recently, as a member of America’s First Professional Theatrical Club, The Lambs, she was part of a reading of  K.C. Crane’s new play, Gregor Mendel, starred at Shadowland as the famed singer of the sliding scale, Florence Foster Jenkins, in Glorious!, and is featured as the Russian actress in Elena Sphak’s new film, “Land of Opportunity”.  Endorsed by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, she’s busy with performances for the Civil War Sesquitennial and other singing history projects, plus children’s entertainment engagements as singing clown, Yodely-Melody.

JENNIFER SILVERMAN (Susan, Mrs. Crawford, Dental Assistant, Sarah, Rose) Jennifer is excited to be making her New York stage debut in ‘Fear and Desire’. A transplant from Vancouver, she has starred in several films in Canada, including The Soft Revolution which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. She won best actress at the 48-Hour Film Festival for the short, Tennis With Dale Bradley. Jennifer has done voice over work for over 50 films and TV shows. She recently did a cameo on Comedy Central’s new show, John Benjamin Has a Van. Jennifer also teaches acting, and has studied at The Neighborhood Playhouse, with Larry Moss and at other studios. She would like to thank Alana for all her hard work and support, and thanks to her beloved Max.

MARGOT STEINBERG (Eden’s Mother, Gloria)
Margot Steinberg was born  in Montreal, but has lived and worked as an actress in London and New York. She had principal roles in “In Love and War” starring Sandra Bullock and directed by Richard Attenborough, and “Neil Simon’s London Suite” for Hallmark Television amongst others. She appeared in numerous theatre productions in London including Julius Caesar directed by Alexander Siddig, and Impassioned Embraces directed by Emmy-Award winning director Steve Shill. She also formed her own theatre company in London and produced European premieres of works by Julie Jensen and Erin Cressida Wilson, both of whom were active collaborators. Since her move to New York, Margot has been a featured actress in several episodes of Law & Order, and can be heard on many commercials for both television and radio.

ALANA RUBEN FREE (Writer/Director)
LB Sykes wrote of Alana Free’s directorial debut: “It’s the sort of revelatory, energetic writing and performance for which a critic, or other enthusiast, hankers, lives and breathes…” The first play in The Eden Trilogy, Beginner at Life, has been performed in Milan, Novara, Turin, Tel Aviv, Toronto, and Sydney. Fall 2011 productions are scheduled for Istanbul and Canada. Black Fire/White Fire had public workshop readings in Sydney in 2010. Alana was the founding editor of the literary journal, The Mom Egg, and was the executive producer of the narrative documentary The Last Stand. The Eden Trilogy is scheduled to open in New York, fall 2012. Thank you to my family and the many other generous and compassionate people who have loved and supported me: you each know who you are. Alana.free@gmail.com

Sebastian White (Stage Manager, Lighting and Sound Operator, AD)
Director credits: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Modern Life, Fool For Love, Surf City. Acting Credits on Stage include: Reckless, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Three Sisters, Mid Summer’s Night Dream. Film credits: Nixon, Born on the Forth of July, Night Games.

Jay Lifton (Sound Designer &Composer)
Jay’s work has been featured in a multitude of independent films, commercials, and TV shows. Scores include: Rêves Perdus, Marqueurs Utilisés at the Cannes short film corner 2011, and Nothing Happened at twenty-seven film festivals worldwide. He would like to thank his wife and parents for always supporting his artistic ambitions.

Miriam Nilofa Crowe (Lighting Designer)
Miriam designs for theater, dance and music, and is a member of Wingspace Theatrical Design.  She currently designs regularly for Grammy-nominated and Latin Grammy-winner Lila Downs, Ko-Ryo Dance Theater, Nerve Ensemble, and The Drilling Company.  Some favorite recent projects include Symphony for the Dance Floor (Daniel Bernard Roumain), The Wonder (Queen’s Company), AfterNever (Jonathan Pratt & Bow and Sparrow), James Weingrod, Life after Dark (Dana Leong).  www.wingspace.com/miriam
Lisa Renee Jordan

Alana Karpoff Schwartz

Geoff Sirmai

Thank you to Hamilton Clancy, the Artistic Director of the Drilling Company, and so many countless creative supporters and collaborators over the years, including, not in alphabetical order, Bob Holman, Marjorie Tesser, Lucas Sabean, Anne Hamilton, Jack Feldstein, Meredith McDonough, Marianne Ferrari, DB Gilles, Joy Rose, Bettina Zeloof, Vee Malnar, Chiara Mazzarino, Donna Brooks, Giacomo Paco, Paula Barny, Marina Faingold, Eyal, Judith Jaffe, Geoff Sirmai, Fergal O’Conner.

Fear & Desire – in Sydney, Austrailia:

Vee Malnar
Vee Malnar
Lee-Ann Simon
Lee-Ann Simon
Jane E Seymour
Jane E Seymour