Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator


Bringing Stories to Life

by Lisa A Kramer
My subtitle for this website says it all "Writer, theatre artist, educator, and woman who wields words."

What does it mean to wield words?

I have always loved words and languages. An avid reader since I could first put those mysterious symbols together to form word (at a very young age) I easily lost myself in stories. I found comfort in the worlds built inside my by words meticulously placed on the page by mysterious magicians (yes I thought of them as magical people) called authors.

Then I realized that words can also be brought to life in other ways, taken from the page and breathed into reality on the stage or the screen.  Or sometimes combined with images to create pictures in...

Rediscovering the Power of Our Voices

by Lisa A Kramer
“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.” Rumi

Nathan, Sarah, and I were about to enter New Rep's blackbox theater to see the one-woman show Unveiled, written and performed by Rohina Malik when Nathan's attention was drawn to something on his phone. There was a ballistic missile attack warning sent to everyone in Hawaii this morning. It took 40 minutes (I believe) before they announced it was a false alarm.

Of course, Nathan was seeing this information after the fact. But he grew up in Hawaii. We met while in our mfa program at the University of Hawaii. I lived there for three...

Tales of a Theatre Director/Educator

by Lisa A Kramer
I am sitting in my Introduction to Theatre classroom, showing the movie "Show Business: Road to Broadway." The picture is a little warped, as I can't use the regular video screen/projector, but instead I have it projecting on a swash of silky fabric that is intended to be a shadow screen for the play I am directing which opens next week.

Part of my set lies hidden in the darkness behind the screen  . . . much of which still waits (im)patiently to come to life with many coats of paint. I am trying to ignore the lurking bareness which haunts me even though I cannot see it. I try not to worry about how or if everything will get done.

As I...

Learning Literary and Life Lessons #NESCBWI14

by Lisa A Kramer
"Because I wasn't mad I saw something beautiful. I saw a color I had never seen before." (Peter Reynolds) In his keynote address at the NESCBWI conference yesterday, Peter Reynolds--award-winning author and illustrator of North Star, The Dot,  and Ish--shared his philosophies on writing, life, art and the way he creates. The above quote comes from a story he told about his (then) young daughter pouring water over his entire paint set thereby creating a color he could not describe. That color, eventually, made its way into his book, The Dot . His talk resonated with me on so many levels. From his idea that there are "two kinds of adults in the world"--adult adults and child adults--to his attitude that he is "a gentle rebel. Rules are...

The Power of the Arts

by Lisa A Kramer
I have been silent for several weeks.

I suppose you could argue that I had writer's block, but it's more than that. I have grown tired of the words that seem to flood our existence, but change nothing as people hold stubbornly to their belief systems unwilling to hear or read the logic in an argument. I no longer felt the desire to contribute to the cacophony, because it seemed like even the most eloquent and truthful words get lost in the mire of meanness that seems to flood the internet wherever you look.

However, today I read an article that makes me want to climb up on my soapbox again, and shout words until somebody listens. The Washington Post published an...

Publicize, Publicize, Publicize

by Lisa A Kramer
We all know that doing good work isn't enough nowadays. Sometimes, it seems that quality doesn't matter at all (see my post called "A Best Selling Author? Really?!!")

The unfortunate truth is that in order to achieve anything we need to get our work noticed, and the only way to do that is to spend more time getting it out there, which of course means less time creating and perfecting our work. It's a vicious cycle.

You would think that social  media might make it easier, but it doesn't really. The truth is, the more inundated I am with advertisements or announcements the more they just become visual background noise to the stuff that I'm really interested in hearing, seeing, or reading.


Clear Writing Counts

by Lisa A Kramer

We can't all be brilliant writers. Just as we can't all be brilliant mathematicians, painters, doctors, musicians, scientists, speakers, etc., etc.

I get that. The line between basic skills and true talent is a thick one--one which requires training, practice, more training, more practice, a lot of hard work (and perhaps a bit of innate talent).

I'd like to think that--even in a flawed educational system like ours--most people learn somewhere along the way to communicate in basic sentences, and to be able to write those sentences down. I like chocolate. I wish I had a million dollars. I like to write. Not brilliant sentences by any means, but they communicate the point to some extent.

Of course, as people move through the education system, as well...

In Search of Inspiration

by Lisa A Kramer

I have another confession to make . . .

I often envy the people like artists and musicians who go out and make their art without letting life get in their way. I'm not talking about the big names or the movies stars, but the people who create their work and sell it at crafts fairs, or the musicians who do mall gigs in local pubs or busk in the streets--the joy of making music pouring out of them. I mean the brave souls who may never make millions of dollars or big names, but have chosen to live life following their bliss and living their dreams.

Of course, I am sure they too struggle with everyday concerns, but I love watching...

The Truth About the Arts: Art is Activism

by Lisa A Kramer
The other day I got an e-mail from a student in one of my upcoming Introduction to Theatre classes questioning my choice of text because, in his opinion, the first two chapters spoke heavily about theatre for political activism, and he did not want to take a class that focused on Political Theatre.

Maybe I should make my class read Cloud 9, which is about sexual politics and blow his mind.

In typical fashion, his comments first through me into a funk of self-doubt. Did I make a mistake when selecting this book (which is a new text for me because I was going to go insane if I stuck with the same old same old)? Was I...

The End of the Season (100 WCGU)

by Lisa A Kramer
The fields begin to fade into golden brown as the mornings become a little cooler. I walk along the path preparing to say farewell. The osprey nest stands empty as the young birds explore their wings.


Beside the theater, a truck awaits the final strike. Nine shows. Ten weeks. A sense of melancholy descends.

After all the excitement, my mind turns to shorter days, the changing colors of fall, the long drive home and questions of what the future will bring. Will next summer find us here again, or will we move on to new adventures?

Only time will tell.

Another entry for Julia's 100 Word Challenge for Grownups. Click here to learn more and read other participants work.


A Mourning Surprise

by Lisa A Kramer
Last night I went to see the Okoboji Summer Theatre production of MY WAY. I missed the opening night on Tuesday because I was doing a round trip drive to pick a director up in Minneapolis (3+ hours one way). I'd been looking forward to the production for a number of reasons: who doesn't like Frank Sinatra the cast was fabulous Nathan (my husband) designed the set (which was gorgeous) One of my favorite lighting designers was doing the lights. Rob Doyen and Musical Director Tom Andes rehearse for the production. (Image from the Okoboji Summer Theatre)

As I expected the production was delightful. Music, charm, fabulous singing, beautiful costumes, men in tuxes, a little schmaltz, a little cheese. A delightful evening,...

Confused Thoughts on a Changing World

by Lisa A Kramer
My thoughts fly through the air like silken ribbons of color escaping on a whirlwind. I try to gather them together in search of meaning, of hope. They elude me. I look for signs of possibility in the creative life around me . . . by reading the words of others, by watching a choreographer create, by soaking in the powerful energy of imagination.

Once in a while I am reminded of how much the world has changed, but the change doesn't always seem to be for the best.. My joy over the SCOTUS decision about DOMA is tempered by its decision that opens the way to voter rights restrictions which will only emphasize the racism and prejudice that still dominates...

Endings and New Beginnings

by Lisa A Kramer
"Today's show, "Hit the Road," stories of heading out into the unknown during the time in your life when it means the most, specifically when you are still figuring out who you are." (Ira Glass)  

The above quote from Ira Glass can be heard when he introduces Act II of "Hit the Road" on This American Life. I listened to a downloaded podcast of the program as I returned from driving my brother back to my mother's house after his most recent stint playing "Uncle Dad"--helping me out with Sarah so I could work after school programs while Nathan is away at a summer theatre job.

The statement struck me, because I wonder if anyone ever stops trying to figure out who we really...

Living a Life of Passion

by Lisa A Kramer
Once in a while I'm reminded that there are people out there who have mastered the art of living life with joy and passion--they represent the goal and the dream.

Sarah bought me a butterfly today. A symbol of my need to change, find my beauty, and fly.

Artists, writers, non-profit advocates--people who don't think about the paycheck or the title, but live to create, to learn, to share, to love, and to enjoy life.

I admit that, when that reminder comes, I feel a twinge of envy, and a dollop of regret. I find myself wandering into the realm of "what if . . . " What if I became brave enough to let all the "have to's" go...

A Whirlwind of Change

by Lisa A Kramer
My life seems to have taken on a new metaphor.

I'll need to use mixed metaphors to explain, please bear with me. Last week I was mired in the chaos of too many things that seemed beyond my control. I was on a speeding train, going nowhere. I woke every night in the middle and never returned to sleep, as my mind whirled with all the things I had to do, along with all the places I felt I was failing. It was ugly.

But then, something shifted. I still feel like I'm moving at high speeds, caught in a whirlwind of change but the difference is that now I feel like  I AM RIDING THE STORM!

Last week was one of the...