ME TOO!!! It’s time to Speak!

This is my first blog post in a long time. I’m going to start using my blog again. I want to communicate about what I’m doing, professionally, but also, I need to share what’s going on with me, personally. I think others could relate. I’d love to hear back from others – am I speaking for you, too?

Soon I will publish my auto-biographical, solo, video show, ENUF!  Coming.


I never thought the mess that is happening on the political stage would be my final straw that urged me to speak out about my own situation. I’ve created theater pieces in which we draw parallels from the personal, “microcosm” to what’s happening in the world, the “macrocosm.” So when we somehow elected an archetypal bully to the highest office in the land, I can’t keep quiet anymore! So it’s my turn to tell my story.

I’ve kept secrets since I was five years old about being physically and sexually abused by my middle brother, a bully who made tormenting me a daily hobby. He made it clear that if I went to our parents for help he “would kill” me – I kept the secret.

As a young woman trying to find a career path that used my G-d given gifts and my passion for Theater, I went looking for a grad school where I could develop my immerging talents as a director. I visited several universities in the mid-West and was told by three heads of Theatre or Drama departments that I should be “realistic.” As a female I didn’t have a chance rising to the top in that field. “Oh, you do costumes, too? Well that’s what you should do – go into Costuming.” One department head pulled out a drawer of files and said, “See all these files? They’re all men. They are the future directors and heads of Drama departments of America. You’re a woman. Face reality. Go into Costuming.” I didn’t listen entirely, and have gone on to make my living in the Theater, but being a free-lance director and teacher has not been the “get rich quick” scheme. I love my work, so I could not just go away and fade into costume design or just teaching English, which were the avenues that I was expected to pursue. But I know I was systematically excluded from the “White Boys Club.”

I’m in a support group in Berkeley that meets weekly. Two weeks ago a new guy came to the group. From the minute he sat down he tried to dominate the group, interject his directives, instead of, as we do in this group, be supportive, understanding and encouraging of each other to find their own solutions. This guy knew what everybody should do & told them so. I wanted to leave. I had pushed back my chair and was getting ready to make my exit, holding in my feelings, as I have been trained since childhood to do. But Marvin, the facilitator of the group asked if anyone had anything they wanted to say. It poured out. “Yes, I am thinking of leaving. I don’t feel safe here anymore. I come to this group because I like the people and, over the weeks have come to feel that this is a place where I am safe to be myself. I lead beginning acting classes and the first thing I do is make it a safe place for people to come out of a hiding place that they developed from having been abused or scared by people in power – So I am NOT willing to be in a group where one of the members is trying to dominate the rest of the group. I’m going!”

All of a sudden I got support from the other people in the group! “Don’t go, Marcia. I feel the same way!” came from several people. The guy fought back, trying to make us a bunch of f-ked up nuts. Then Marvin said to the guy, “You know, I wanted to be welcoming to you, so I didn’t say enough to stop you, but really you are not a good fit for this group and I think you should leave!” He did (with a face-saving huff & puff).

Getting support from the group, being able to speak up and not be made wrong, having the leader (the “daddy”) of the group stand up for me & protect me/us from a bully – that was a totally transformative experience for me!

Then – all this stuff in the news, revealing how many women & girls have been abused, discriminated against and excluded from that “White Boys Club” really has got me going. People who know me, know I am passionately dedicated to fighting for the under-dog. It’s not just because I’m a nice, liberal Jewish girl, which I am, but it’s because, in my way I can relate to people who have been abused, discriminated against and excluded from that “W. B. C.”. I will fight for their/our rights the way I wish people in my family had fought for me. Someone has to stand up & speak out!

One of the speakers who was on KPFA Radio the other day, talking about what we need to do to stop the wave of violence going on in this country, particularly said, “Stand up. If you see something happening that’s wrong, say something! Women need men to stand with them to get any change to happen.” Thank you Jeffrey L. Edleson of UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. We need more men like you.

And thank you Marvin, thanks to my eldest brother who listened to me telling my angry story to him & his wife until they were sick of it. But, I couldn’t get my story out there – I couldn’t get HEARD. I would keep telling the story until I felt I was getting through and somehow Justice was finally being done! And I thank you, dear reader, for reading my ranting. I hope you, we can move forward, together to stand up to bullies, both on the micro, as well as the macrocosmic stage.

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Full Aliveness is on the other side of Performance Anxiety. –

I was asked to perform at a New Year’s Eve gathering. (Thank you Ron Jones & Doug Baird for inviting spontaneous story-tellers, performing artsists, even cab drivers to share “theater of absurdity” stories.

It had been a while since I performed as an improvisational teller of tales. I’ve been focused more on teaching how to. The thought came up, “I have no idea what I’m going to say or do. What if I get out there and I go blank?!” That’s a scarey thought, one which, if I continued to entertain that line of thinking, would lead me into the black hole of frozen, self-conscious terror. And that thought did come up as I was performing, in the middle of spinning a story, my inner “critic” looked at what I was doing and, for an instant, wanted me to be elsewhere. YIKES! I knew I had to keep my focus on anything but evaluating myself at that moment. I switched to feeling my body in space, I allowed my body to lead me to feel a connection to what my heart would like to say to others, if given the chance. I then remembered my committment to speak the “truth,” whatever that is for me in the moment. My teacher, Phil Bennett taught me Stanislaski‘s precepts, to use my gifts as an actor in service to my fellow human beings. I coached myself to keep focused, slow down, feel what I was feeling and leave space for my Source of inspiration to speak through me. I forgot to worry about me. “I,” the ego Me was no longer important. What was important was giving to my audience something that was just coming to me in the moment, without judging it. I continuously gave myself permission to just free associatedly spin a story.

I’ve learned, by throwing myself into that state of “not knowing” so many times now, that I will land – somewhere and I don’t have to know ahead of time where that will be. The inner “critic” wants to be sure it’s going to be “good,” so better pre-plan it – right? But I’ve learned to let go of needing it to be “good.” In fact, in a creative process, “right” or “wrong” will block you up – so drop that worry. Drop the oars and let the boat float. My training in Improvisational Theater has helped me learn that I can step out into the “unknown” and trust that something will come to me – I WILL land on my feet. I will NOT die. My job is to use the tools I now teach to just get out of the way of magic happening.

On the other side of that debilitating, freeze-drying fear is FUN! I grow wings. I get to PLAY!

I want EVERYONE to have that experience. Little children have it, and we were all playful, fearless children once. And then – you all know the first time someone mocked you or put you down for doing or saying some-thing. You probably said it with naive spontaneity, but you quickly learned to cork that bottle. Usually, parents and siblings came first to keep you in line, then you learned to work for “good” grades from teachers and acceptance by peers. We are sold impossible life-styles and physical beauty standards by advertising, the media and on…

It worked. You (and most everyone else) accepted the safe role of conformity. You didn’t even notice when the wing-clipping took place. Most Americans would rather die than ever experience looking “bad.”

That is SO 2013! It’s a new year! People are done living with lies. There are folks who want the whole enchillada life has to offer us and are looking for places where hot sauce is being served. We live in a time of huge personal and societal transformation. Modern prophets have said, “Evolve or self-distruct!” I say, the next stage of our evolution of becoming conscious, human beings on this planet is to reclaim our rightful expressive power, our unique creativity and our capability to be fully who we can be. After years of fear and shame-based conditioning, humans need a safe place to come out and experience who’s been hiding for years. With a good coach, and I am one, Improvisation gives us a safe, light-hearted, playful “pretend” reality. Spolin’s Theater Games provide profoundly transformative focused exercises to do just that. In a Theater Games work/playshop we try new possibilities, taken risks and, with the support of the group, gained confidence we take back into our lives. It’s invaluable! In this Theater Games world we are asked to abide by one simple ground rule: no on gets hurt. Pretty basic.

My work is to spread this stuff around. In my little way, I am working to create a future I would pass on to the next generation. I give people an experience of the benefits of shifting to a “WIN/WIN” paradigm. It IS the next stage of our evolution to recognize we’ll all do much better if we work together. Viola Spolin, the creator of Theater Games, who was one of my teachers, called working as an improv ensemble, being “Parts of the Whole.” In an improv Everyone looks good. Your success is mine, too. Without the critical, judgemental voices that spoil the fun, we get a free-flow of everone’s creative juices. At this point in history, we need all the creative, “jump outside the box thinking” we can get.

Now there is a new interest in activities that develop our creative, intuitive thinking abilities as a needed balance to the analytical, logical, intelligence that is so prized by current “civilization.” We were born with a full package of right & left brain faculties, but along with training in Math and Science, we must include Art, Music, Dance and Drama classes to exercise and develop our intuitive capacities.

Einstein said –

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” –Albert Einstein

Are you ready for a change? It’s 2014 y’all!!! This is our wake up year. I am SO ready for The NEXT STAGE! If you are too, if you resonate with these ideas, please contact me. I’m looking for you, too.

Marcia Kimmell
aspiring to be sillyzen

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I feel drawn to work with veterans who are re-adjusting and returning to life in the normally crazy world. Improvisational Theater Games has been a healing place for me and others who are survivors of trauma. My idea is to work with a group, give them the skills to become an ensemble, capable of performing improvisationally created theater around “issues” we are dealing with in our lives, having fun, while getting our stories out there. Improv is a perfect medium for taking pain & problems for use as grist for the creative mill, at least the way I do it. But the group I envision must also have in it people who might ordinarilly take a workshop with me, who have not gone through the experience of an actual war, yet have their own heroic survivor journey to explore.

It’s become a reality! I have a group of people who have just started an improv theater workshop with me on Tuesday evenings at the newly formed Veteran’s Community Media Center on Market St. across from FLAX. I LOVE THIS GROUP!!! I think this is a really cool idea. The right people are being drawn to it. We play.

We laugh a LOT!

There’s room for a couple more people of the “civilian” catagory. I want people to know about it and magnetize other people who would love to get into a newly forming improv group, directed by a brilliant, highly experienced teacher/coach/director, who happens to be me.

Interested? Let me know.

For over 40 years I’ve played & led improv Theater Games that I learned from their creator, the great innovator, Viola Spolin. It has often occured to me that if everyone knew how to play Theater Games, the world would transform. People would blossom into their full, creative potential, groups would learn to be mutually supportive and we would live in peace. That’s the next stage of human evolution.

I’m looking for people who want to play in that game.

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BIO – MARCIA KIMMELL, Theater Artist & Innovator – 2017

Marcia Kimmell has over 40 years of experience as an actor, director and teacher. She currently teaches and directs at OWH Television Studios in Oakland, CA.  She is producing a new topical, magazine style, “good news” show, WAKE UP OAKLAND!!! As an actor she has played such diverse roles as LADY MACBETH, the COWARDLY

LION, as well as the role of WINNIE in Beckettʼs absurdist “HAPPY DAYS,” a tour de

force for her.

Kimmell is a professional story-teller, combining experimental, improvisational theater

training with personal story, couched in metaphors found in fairy tales and myths. She

teaches and performs an entertaining form of improvisational “Story Theater” she has

developed that draws characters and plot from archetypes, as well as actorʼs sub-personalities and personal life, heroic journeys.

Another special area of theater that Ms. Kimmell has developed is the creation of

original theater pieces. With solo actors or with an ensemble of players she helps

develop powerful theater pieces drawn from the personal stories and issues in the lives

of the actors. Most notable of these works is “LEFTOVERS, the Ups & Downs of a

Compulsive Eater,” co-created from psycho-dramatic improvisations with Deah

Schwartz and Anne Wilford. The three improvisational actors played LEFTOVERS to

sold-out houses on the West Coast and had a run off-Broadway, NY. A video of

LEFTOVERS is available (

Kimmell is originally from Chicago where, at 10 years old she started in a professional

acting school for children, doing musical theater. As a teenager she was trained in

improvisational Theater Games at the Second City by the great innovator and creator of

Theater Games, Viola Spolin. considered the “mother of the improvisational theater

movement.” In her twenties she worked with Spolin again in a training

program for professional Theater Games coaches at the Spolin Theater Game Center,

in Los Angeles. She came to San Francisco to study at the American Conservatory

Theatre, where she later became a teacher. Kimmell has been Artist-in-Residence in

several public and private Bay Area schools, including School of the Arts High School,

SFUSD. For five years she was the Drama Specialist for the City of San Franciscoʼs

Recreation & Parks Department. She has been adjunct and guest faculty at various Bay

Area colleges and universities where she has trained actors, film directors, drama

therapists, educators and animators.

In 1979 Kimmell founded The Next Stage Training Programs, her school, where she

continues to work with a wide range of people, from professional actors and film

directors to total beginners. She combines Stanislavskiʼs “System of Psych-physical

Actions” with Spolin Theater Games in her method of teaching, coaching and directing

that enable actors to find playful, inspired, psychologically rich choices. Her training

empowers people of all ages to express themselves with confidence and creativity. The

Next Stage is focused on the development of human potential, using improvisationally

based acting training as a playful medium that enables people to grow to the “next stage”

of their development.Image

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Video – “LEFTOVERS, the Ups & Dows of a Compulsive Eater” Screening 6/2

The SF Integrative Health Networking Meetup is hosting a screening of a video of LEFTOVERS.  See one of the last, live performances by the co-creators, Marcia Kimmell, Deah Schwartz and Anne Wilford.  Using psychodramatic improvisation and writing, the three women created a theater piece for their own healing process and discovered, from overwhelmingly positive audience response, they’d hit a nerve.  

If you can relate to this issue and the addiction to perfection, please join us on Sunday, June 2nd, 4:30 PM at 

bodyFi Studio, 2310 Mission St. (at 19th St.) San Francisco.

For more info., donation & to RSVP (space is limited), go to:

A discussion follows the video.

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Video of “LEFTOVERS, the Ups & Downs of a Compulsive Eater” 6/2

Come to a special screening of the video of LEFTOVERS, a three woman show about compulsive eating & recovery.  See why this heartfelt, entertaining and insightful show played to sold-out houses on the West Coast and made it to an 11 week off-Broadway run!  It has been a healing experience for countless people who have seen it over the years.  Discussion follows the video.

Where: bodyFi Studio 

            2310 Mission (at 19th St.)

When: Sunday, June 2nd, 4:30 PM

Donation: Between $10 – $25 (sliding scale).

Hosted by the SF Integrative Health Network Meetup and Theater Residencies, Inc.

For more info. go to the Meetup or contact Marcia Kimmell

LEFTOVERS was co-written by Marcia Kimmell, Deah Schwartz and Anne Wilford, using improvisation, psychodrama and writing.

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Theater Games Disarm Your Inner Critic


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