I was born in Washington, DC and first remember being alive in Chennai, (then called Madras), South India, where my family moved when I was two. As the youngest of four growing up in a loud and loquacious family, I grabbed attention by being a clown and was drawn to the stage at an early age. I began acting and writing plays in elementary school in Athens, Greece, where I was steeped in Greek mythology. I wrote and directed a play called The Argument, set on Mt. Olympus, casting members of my sixth grade class as the idiosyncratic and contentious gods, and myself as my favorite goddess, Artemis.
I got my feet wet performing in earnest with the encouragement of my first mentor, Joanne Klein, at Middlebury College in Vermont. Joanne nicknamed me “the space pony” when I had trouble with the battery pack for my eye lights while playing a horse getting stabbed in the eyes in Equus. I fared better in a Kaufman & Hart play when she cast me as a floozy flapper with a ridiculous walk. While at Middlebury, I was first exposed to the Bread & Puppet Theater, a company I would later perform with in several productions in NYC and in Glover, VT.
After two years at Middlebury, I took a year off to study theater in Paris at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq, School of Mime, Movement & Theater. There I discovered the amazing power of the body to express emotions and character. My main teacher was the great Lassaad Saidi, master mime and improvisor, who entertained while he taught by example, among other things, how to embody birds of prey. Capping the year was a clown intensive with master Philippe Gaulier, another disciple of Lecoq, who would ring a bell or say “Ne-ehhxt!” if a student was onstage and not funny for more than a few seconds.
Following my year at Lecoq,with its emphasis on movement based theater and the actor/creator, I was drawn to New York and the Experimental Theater Wing at NYU. I studied with the creative catalyst Mary Overlie, one of the founders of contact improv. In Mary’s class, we crawled around getting in touch with our “low brains” and it was there that I wrote my futon song and broke my toe walking into another student. Joan Macintosh, co-founder of the Performance Group, was one of my acting teachers. In Joan’s class, we worked out, reaching quasi-mystical flow states with Grotowski’s “plastiques”, and shared random stuff that passed as performance art. Acting with Rina Yerushalmi was a good dose of the straight stuff, Shakespeare monologues and scene study with some gestalt therapy thrown in.
I wrote, directed and produced my first play, the rock musical Fallen Buddha, while finishing up my degree at NYU. In New York, I went on to work with an improv comedy group, the Balinese-American Dance Theater and the Bread & Puppet Theater. Bread & Puppet came to NYC one spring and offered a free workshop which I eagerly took part in to create street theater performances around the city preceding a huge anti-nuclear march.
I later moved to Vermont and performed multiple roles in their Domestic Resurrection Circus. I love Bread & Puppet for its genre-defying originality, its blend of theater, visual art and music, and its amazing use of a huge outdoor environment with the Vermont landscape as a backdrop. Also for its spirit of resistance & being blatantly political without being deadly, while incorporating ritual, the spirit of angels, grand vision, low tech, humor and whimsy.
I moved to San Francisco and continued to train and perform. I took classes and workshops with Jean Shelton, Leonard Pitt, The San Francisco Mime Troupe, Deborah Sussel and Tony Taccone, among others. Some favorite roles and plays include: Viola in Twelfth Night, Smeraldina in Che Cosa Buffa?, Bacchante in The Bacchae, and Fluellen & Eli in an all female version of Henry V. While I love performing, I never felt wholly fulfilled as an actor and found myself often wanting to have more of a role in the big picture.
I decided to try my hand at solo performance and wrote and performed a semi-autobiographical piece, Songs and Fears, with the firm guidance of solo theater guru David Ford, at the Marsh. When Dan Chumley of the San Francisco Mime Troupe asked me to assistant direct the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s production of As You Like It, I readily accepted. I had studied Indian music at the Ali Akbar College and as Chumley wanted the whole play to be accompanied by live Indian music, I oversaw that aspect of the production. This began a turning point for me, as I began to look more to directing and writing for my future in theater.
I won awards for directing the West Coast premieres of William Finn’s Painting You and Ntosake Shange’s Hydraulics Phat Like Mean, both part of Love’s Fire, a collection of plays about love. I took part in Z Space’s residency program, a breeding ground for new work, where I developed the seeds of my play, Jerusalem Story and wrote the libretto for Forbidden Fruit, a short opera based on the Adam & Eve story.
When I moved to West Marin with two young kids, I shifted my focus to music, teaching and directing shows in schools, as well as enjoying time in nature and with my family. I began to play Middle Eastern and Klezmer music and started performing a bit with my husband and son. I took the Orff training, taught music and drama at the Bolinas School and worked on a production of Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle with local high school students.
After five nature-filled years in the North Bay and one enchanted year in Rome studying Italian, music, and inhaling art, I returned to San Francisco and began taking classes at Playwrights Foundation, which helped me get started on plays which had been incubating for years. I continued to teach drama, and was delighted to co-direct a production of Twelfth Night with thirty eighth graders from the San Francisco School, years after playing the lead.
Yoga has been a continuum in my life along with music and theater. It was a joy to combine all three of these when I performed in Anne Dyer’s Vak: Song of Becoming under the deft hand of choreographer Erika Chong Shuch at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. In the spring of 2017, it was a thrill to direct a fresh off the page opera, a fun, fulfilling, amazing and grueling experience with the 48-hour Opera Festival at the Custom Made Theater .
With my ambitious project, Mirabai: The Barefoot Princess, I aim to bring life and relevance to the dramatic story of the girl who fell in love with a god, collaborating with renowned and diverse artists to create a new music theater masterpiece. See more under