Saturday, October 2, 2010


Joanie is the complete embodiment of activist and theatre practitioner. As a member of The Living Theatre ( for over 20 years and downtown resident, she has seen both the artistic and architectural landscape of the area change drastically. I met Joanie a few years ago with Theatres Against War ( and had the pleasure of working with her on COTE's production of Decadent Acts last season, where she played Mindy White (a character with polar opposite views from her own). I still have a poem about Mindy that she wrote while doing character work hanging up on my wall. Check out Joanie's insightful interview below and then RUN to the library to check out the books she recommends...

Who are you?
A continuously forming living creature that, to a great extent knows her place and function in the universe. A woman who has lived and continues to. A daughter, a sister, a lover, a friend, an artist, an anarchist, a sack of water and an eternal soul. A wild woman, a wise woman and a perennial innocent.

What do you believe in?
I believe in alpha and omega, here and now, evolution, the BNVAR, the music of the spheres, the multiverse, reincarnation, the limitless light, forgiveness, compassion, unconditional love. I believe in everything until proven otherwise. I believe in the snake that swallows her own tail AKA eternity, reincarnation and time travel, life in the universes. I believe there is only one race, the human race, and I believe in its integral goodness. If pushed to the wall, I call all these things combined “God.”

What kind of change do you want to see? Where do you see yourself fitting into your idea for change?
I want to see an end to certain things, big-time. Things like racism, greed, avarice, ridiculous accumulation of wealth, poverty, hunger, slavery, homelessness. I guess that with the exception of the first thing (racism), it all comes down to money. Even then, money is a n operant force. An end to the money system. Then we could get down to the real works—science, art, poetry, music, philosophy, free education for all. Utopia? Sure, why not?! I try to fit into this idea for change through discipline and practice. If I disagree with someone’s opinion or action, I look first to myself for the breakdown in achieving understanding. Simone Weil said that the best way to teach was through demonstration. Rather than come across as some smart-ass blowhard arrogant know-it-all (although I’m sure I have played that role more than once in my life), I want to practice every day, to communicate when I hear something that is to me intolerable, to encourage dialogue, to, when possible, witness and testify whenever there’s injustice, either through action or writing.

If your life had a soundtrack what would be on it?

Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, T Monk, Sun Ra, The Beatles, Youssef N’dour,, Fela, Baaba Maal, King Sunny Ade, Idir, Abdullah Ibrahim, Mali Divas, Taj Mahal, R&B—ah hell, anything that tickles my ears. And bird song, and the wind in the desert, and thunder (if I’m indoors). Heartbeats. And the sounds of love.

If you could be doing anything with your life right now what would it be? Having sex. Failing that, traveling. Failing that, acting. Failing that, writing. Failing that, sleeping.

I Can't Live Without...

What are you craving right now?
My nightly glass of milk.

Talk about a piece of art, performing arts, music or writing that changed your life...
Dada changed my life. Listening to the Pittsburgh Symphony in the orchestra pit sitting next to my Dad in the violin section, when I was a small child. Listening to my Mom play Chopin on the piano as I lay on the floor underneath the piano, also as a small child. And then I read Samuel Beckett. Then I read Artaud. Then I read Julian Beck, which led to Alexander Berkman, Petr Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, Herbert Read, Peter Lanborn Wilson, William Godwin, Bakunin, Proudhon, Tolstoy, Chomsky….etc. Because art and anarchy go hand in hand, and both of them lead to freedom.

What motivates you to do what you do?

Myself, I would hope; and after that, my conspirators.

If you were best friends with any historical figure who would it be and why?
I’m tempted to say Anais Nin, because she inspired me at such an early age to keep a journal, which I began to do when I was 13, and have done until today, except for 10 years of my life, from 1995 to 2005. I love who Anais Nin was, those with whom she cavorted, and the lyricism of her writing, even when it sucked, which it sometimes did. I loved her diaries, her tales of her relationships with Artaud and Rousseau and Henry Miller. She wrote about incest, had affairs with women, swam in the surreal, and was the epitome of elegance. I would also liked to have known Jesus of Nazareth.

If you were a character in your favorite fictional storyline (this could include a book, play, film, television series etc.) what would it be? How would your character be intertwined within the story line that already exists?
Mother Courage. The character is intertwined with my voice, my stance, persistence, will, and my undying desire to survive. Yet I’m crude to a degree, simple, crafty and sometimes downright practical.

Talk about a defining moment of your life. What happened? What did you take away from it?
I had a near-death experience in 1978 in Los Angeles. It was THE defining moment of my life and coincided with the end of the most intense love affair of my life. My heart stopped, my lungs filled up with fluid and I woke up many hours later with the producer of my play holding my hand. All I could think of was being there for the opening. And my lost love. Soon reality set in, and my life changed for the better or the worse, depending on which aspect of my life was being considered. Within six months I moved to New York City and have lived here ever since.

Talk about the best day ever.
When peace has been declared.

Who is/are your hero(es)?
I don’t believe there is such a thing as a hero, per se. I think everyone has the potential to be a hero. But I do believe in angels.

Create a mandatory reading list for the world.
I’d like to amend this to a suggested reading list. I don’t want to mandate anything for the world—it could come back to bite me in the ass, and anyway I object to in on principle. LOL, as they say. So:
Collected Works of Antonin Artaud
Giovanni’s Room, If Beale Street Could Talk-James Baldwin
Nightwood-Djuna Barnes
Life of the Theatre-Julian Beck
Endgame, Krapp’s Last Tape, Rockabye, Waiting for Godot-Samuel Beckett
Hold Everything Dear, Ways of Seeing-John Berger
Good Woman of Szechuan, Mahagonny, Mother Courage-Bertolt Brecht
Nadja-Andre Breton
The Good Earth-Pearl Buck
The Plague-Albert Camus
Presence of the Actor-Joseph Chaikin
The Idiot-Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Four Quartets-T.S. Eliot
The Invisible Man-Ralph Ellison
Love in the Time of Cholera-Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Yellow Wallpaper-Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Howl-Allen Ginsberg
Lord of the Flies-William Golding
Autobiography-Emma Goldman
Beneath the Wheel, Steppenwolf-Hermann Hesse
Brave New World, Doors of Perception, Island-Aldous Huxley
Ubu Roi-Alfred Jarry
The Other-Ryszard Kapuscinski
The Poisonwood Bible-Barbara Kingsolver
Mutual Aid-Petr Kropotkin
Immortality, The Joke-Milan Kundera
The Canopus in Argos Series-Doris Lessing
The Cancer Journals-Audre Lorde
The Prince-Machiavelli
Anarchy-Errico Malatesta
The Diaries of Judith Malina
Going to Iran, Sita-Kate Millett
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea-Yukio Mishima
Invitation to a Beheading, Lolita-Vladimir Nabakov
Reading Lolita in Tehran-Azar Nafisi
Cantos-Pablo Neruda
Silences-Tillie Olsen
Collected Works of Kenneth Patchen
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance-Robert Pirsig
The Symposium-Plato
All Quiet on the Western Front-Erich Maria Remarque
Diving Into the Wreck-Adrienne Rich
The God of Small Things-Arundhati Roy
The Satanic Verses-Salman Rushdie
Existentialism and Human Emotion-Jean-Paul Sartre
The Country Without a Post Office-Ali Agha Shahid
Complete Works of Shakespeare
Frankenstein-Mary Shelley
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith
The Grapes of Wrath-John Steinbeck
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
Seven Dada Manifestos-Tristan Tzara
Slaughterhouse Five, Timequake-Kurt Vonnegut
Marriage-A Sentence—Anne Waldman
Leaves of Grass-Walt Whitman
The Bridge of San Luis Rey-Thornton Wilder
Art and Lies, Lighthousekeeping, The Stone Gods-Jeanette Winterson
A Room of One’s Own, Orlando-Virginia Woolf

For more pictures of Joanie, visit:

1 comment:

  1. What a clear, beautyful voice in the desert. In deep respect: Thank You, Joanie! Yours, Rupert

    Thany You, Ashley! I recommend to make an Interview with Blogger kloncke, the short url is

    Best greetings from Gemany, Rupert