Welcoming 2022 at Lemon Punch Theatre Lab!

Phew! What a year, yes? I’ve wound up classes and coaching at Lemon Punch Theatre Lab for 2021 with tremendous gratitude to the students, audience members and friends who cheered us on as we kept the lights on in the studio, while hopping back on Zoom when COVID exposures threatened. Like many performance and training venues, we are adopting a hybrid schedule as we approach 2022. I are staying hopeful, but remaining careful as I lead the Lab into the new year!

First off, I’m delighted to announce that I’m directing Lauren Gunderson’s THE REVOLUTIONISTS for The Firehouse Center for the Arts! That show opens on March 11th, and I’ll be hosting many of the (COVID-protocol following) rehearsals in the Lemon Punch Theatre Lab studio. This is what the space is for–to create art!!! I haven’t held rehearsals there since January 2020, so this makes me extremely happy.

Next, I’m expanding my Thursday pay-as-you-go offerings in January and February by alternating my successful and filled-to-capacity “Not-So-Cold Readings” with “Between the Lines” classes, which will focus on all the physicality that fills our scenes in and around the text. All in-person class participants must be fully vaccinated and agree to follow the Lab’s “COVID-safer” policies, which include staying home if you are symptomatic and being ready to pivot to Zoom if the situation requires it. This fall, we moved to Zoom for two classes following a possible exposure, and we also happily used Zoom one stormy night when we thought it was unsafe to drive! It’s great to have a new tool to help navigate the winter season.

Last update: I’m rolling out a Zoom-only Scene Study class in January for some folks who wanted to stay tucked in at home. And before we know it, spring will come, and hopefully we can all breathe easier as we continue to make and enjoy theatre. Best wishes to all!

Lemon Punch Theatre Lab has reopened!

On June 1, Lemon Punch Theatre Lab reopened our studio space at 14 Cedar Street in Amesbury for fully-vaccinated students! This month, we are doing one-on-one coaching, and we plan to bring group classes back in-person in August, after a much-needed break! We are also continuing to teach acting and playwriting via Zoom. Stay tuned for news of future in-person and Zoom offerings!

Here’s how our sunny, air-conditioned space looks this week:

And here is our sanitation station–we also have our own handicapped accessible bathroom inside the space!

We hope you’ll join us soon for in-person theatre making! Be well and stay safe!

busy busy busy!

We’re shaking’ booties at the Lemon Punch Theatre Lab studio!

I feel neglectful of this blog because I’ve been so busy developing, promoting, and teaching classes at my new studio! Please know that all is well, and if you’d like to see what’s happening over there–and even join my newsletter’s mailing list–you can visit my studio’s website HERE!

Lemon Punch Theatre Lab is LIVE!!!

I am absolutely delighted to announce the opening of my new teaching and theatre making endeavor, Lemon Punch Theatre Lab LLC! Located at the artists’ mill building at 14 Cedar Street in Amesbury, MA, the Lab features lots of light and space and . . . its own rest room! Woo hoo for Studio 207A! I also have a marvelous landlord and many great artist neighbors there. Stay tuned for more Lemon Punch Theatre Lab news. For now, visit my new website to learn all about my class and workshop offerings for Fall 2019! And enjoy a couple pictures of the space, complete with special guest to demonstrate the scale of it!

clowning around Dartmouth

I had a delightful visit with Dr. Laura Edmondson’s Theatre History class in late February to demonstrate mask work and how the tools of commedia dell’arte can serve us as theatre makers today.  I was joined in the masks by a couple of Laura’s fearless students, Holden and Ellie. Enjoy!



masked again, at last!

Leslie Pasternack demonstrates mask technique with her character Stupino.

In August I was honored to give a workshop to theatre KAPOW, a superb company of NH theatre artists who bring both classic and new plays to life, and also generate original material through communal devising.  Each summer they have a retreat in which they bring in specialists to explore particular performance techniques, and this year I was asked to lead a workshop in mask.  Company founders Matt and Carey Cahoon, along with company member and Board President Peter Josephson and others donned hats, scarves and half-masks of my own construction to improvise solo and duo turns in the beautiful converted barn that serves as their retreat studio. We had a marvelous two hours together creating new characters and exploring the technical challenges and surprising freedoms that come when you work in mask.

tKAPOW has worked in mask in the past and plans to incorporate masks in several ways throughout this year’s season.  Check out their 2017-18 lineup here.  And scroll down for pictures of the tKAPOW players (plus Peter’s dog, Henry) in mask:

Peter Josephson and Matt Cahoon

Rachael Longo and Henry the Dog

Carey Cahoon

Matt Cahoon

Cranky Peter!

Amy Agostino




Rock, Paper, Scissors in 2016!

Happy New Year, everyone! 2015 was a time of sadness for my family, as we lost my mother Elaine in June after her long struggle with lung cancer. I am glad to say that I am picking up the threads of various projects I had put aside while I was caring for her and I hope to report on big doings in the coming year.

To start off, I will mention that Mindfulness Through Clown, which I announced in December, was postponed due to holiday madness. But I am actively developing this workshop with my colleague Nancy Garnhart of Yoga in ME and will let you know when it is ready to roll out.

In the meantime, my prison playwright mentee Keith has had a ten-minute play accepted to the Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre’s 8 Tens Festival, which opened last weekend! I will be heading there next week to see Keith’s play myself, but the director has already sent me some pictures. Here are some production photos of Rock, Paper, Scissors, written by Keith Sanders, directed by Evan Hunt, produced by Wilma Chandler, and photographed by Jana Marcus:

rock1 rock2 rock3


Hello, 2014!

Phew, where did the end of 2013 go? Like many folks, I spent the holiday season rushing about between blizzards, visiting with family while dodging second and third helpings of dessert. Also, there’s the issue of a new, boisterous voice in the house:

But, in addition to such chaotic fun, I do have a few exciting theatre accomplishments and upcoming events to report.

My trip to the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts in Concord, MA reunited me with my former student Brian Boruta, who is now doing a marvelous job directing the Performing Arts department of this impressive organization. I performed CLEAN ROOM in the new “Downstage” space, and I also gave a three-hour workshop on Clowning to high schoolers. The workshop was a blast–what an intelligent and courageous group of young performers they were! I warmed them up with a few minutes of Brighina and Stupino, who laid out some basic concepts and got them talking and laughing. Then I just set the exercises in motion and watched the kids unfold. I love this work. . . you see brand new characters with physical mannerisms, postures, walks, and burbling sound tracks emerge in just minutes and then grow and refine themselves over the course of an hour or two as they interact with other creatures. It’s extremely empowering for actors of any age to discover that they don’t always need to be picked by a director to play a role written by a playwright in order to make theatre. All you need is your own self, no matter what physical shape you are in or how fluently you speak. And it allows us to let go of the pressure to look pretty or confident or sexy as we explore the more truthful realms of goofy and even grotesque. Love it! The kids seemed to really enjoy it, too, and they were courteous to me and each other. Kudos to Emerson Umbrella for inspiring such professional, joyful creativity in these young people.

So, that revived my love of workshop teaching and I hope 2014 will bring more of that! Stay tuned.

I rounded out 2013’s CLEAN ROOM work with a surprise invitation from Bill Humphreys to be interviewed by him for airing on Portsmouth Public Media TV, the local cable station for Portsmouth, NH. I brought my masks along and we had a fun and finely detailed conversation about acting, mask technique, and the process of devising CLEAN ROOM. That segment will air sometime soon, so again–stay tuned!

Lastly, MAKE SURE IT’S ME marches on in March, up to Concord, NH! The Brain Injury Association of NH is bringing ACT ONE’s traveling team to do a beefed-up version of our library presentation at the Red River Theatre on Wednesay, March 19th from 5-7 pm. The event will include a pre-show reception and talkback. Admission is free, but please register by visiting: http://www.bianh.org/awareness1.html

I have another MSIM opportunity in the works, and Steph Nugent and I have been hard at work crafting Festival 2014. So I look forward to sharing more news with you soon. Be well and stay cozy!



clown uproar at Gould Academy!

Today I write with the smells of Axe Body Spray and assorted fruity/floral concoctions still lingering in my mind and in my luggage. Last week, I spent five days at Gould Academy, in Bethel, Maine, teaching as part of their Sophomore Four Point program. This is an intensive mid-term week during which the sophomores work with professional artists, learning about their crafts, watching presentations, and building their own original art pieces. (The other classes at Gould do equally cool things off-campus during the Four Point program: the freshman go to China; the juniors go winter camping–heavy duty that far north!; and the seniors pursue individual internship experiences.)

When the Sophomore Four Point program was started, all the artists involved were painters or sculptors of some sort. But they have since added theatre and cooking to the schedule. New Hampshire Theatre Project sends one of their teaching artists to Gould every year, and this time around I was honored to represent NHTP. There were seven artists in residence for the week, and each student worked with two of them, for two days each. From my perspective, I spent two days with a group of seven kids, and then two days with a group of six. On the third evening, I presented my Mask work to the students, faculty, and staff. (Which was followed by a demonstration from the visiting chef on how to bone a chicken. A fitting combination of wackiness, I thought!) And on the final evening, at a banquet where the art work was displayed all around the dining hall, the acting students and I presented a show that featured improv games, clowns and mask characters. I was incredibly proud of the students’ work–they each spent nine hours over two days with a huge array of new ideas I had thrown at them. And they came up with some great characters! They were extremely nervous about sharing their “weird” work with their peers, teachers, and parents, but once the spotlight was on them, they hammed it up in fine style. Two particular standouts were a boy named Reed, who had turned a droopy-faced mask into a version of Henry Fonda’s character from On Golden Pond; and Ke, a Chinese basketball player whose clown character used the words “Whoa!” and “Oh, yeah,” to hold an entire conversation with two girls. He managed to win the hearts of both girl characters by the end of the scene, with the whole audience cheering him on.

So! My work at Gould is done! Back to the director’s chair–and I’m also beginning work as a Red Cross volunteer in the Services to the Armed Forces program this week. Stay tuned!

Brighina, Stupino, and Punch rocked Fayetteville!

Had a great weekend in Fayetteville, NC, where I went to visit my friend Dr. Michael Martin, the director of Choral Activities and Music Education at Methodist University. I had met him a few years back through my work as a presentation coach and choreographer for barbershop choirs (thanks to Dr. Bill Adams and the Austin Chord Rangers for bringing me into the barbershop world!). (If you want a nice mental picture, think of me in Austin, TX in the late 90s developing a dance routine for fifty men, aged 16-90, to spice up their rousing rendition of “Rubber Ducky.”)

Well, Michael liked my teaching style, and he was intrigued by the idea of my mask work. But he’d never seen it. He took a leap of faith and secured funding to bring me to Methodist to give a lecture/demonstration for the public on commedia dell’arte and mask performance. Then he asked arranged a workshop for the Music and Theatre majors on physical theatre. So, that’s what I did! Friday night was the lecture/demo, during which I brought out my masks to illustrate the history of commedia, as well as where I’m going with it in my present work. I can confidently say that Brighina, Stupino, and Punch rocked the house! On Saturday morning, we had about 30 majors all strutting and slouching around, creating original characters from the ground up. Enormous fun–plus, I got to visit with Michael and his family, and learn a little bit about Fayetteville. Next up: Gould Academy in Bethel, ME in two weeks!