Monday, September 12, 2011

Overcoming a Personal Fear ... I’m Live Onstage in The Feldman Dynamic

(This blog pertains to events that happened during the month of August 2003.)
We are on the road. Our destination: New York City and the NYC Fridge Festival. It is August 7, 2003 and the four of us (AKA: The Feldman Dynamic) are driving north from FL to our home away from home for the next three weeks. We will be staying in Passaic, NJ,   (Visit:     just outside of NYC at the home of Edward’s cousins. We have never meant these relatives before, but their “warm” generosity has already captured our hearts. They have agreed to let us stay at their home for the entire three week run of the Fringe. So, we not only have accommodations in the area but we get to meet new family members and build new relationships. We are all very excited, yet there is also a slight pause for concern. Although we are Jewish, our cousins are Orthodox and maintain an extremely religious home. While there, we will attempt to “follow” as many of the Orthodox rituals as possible -- plus of course, we will be in a strictly kosher home. So, we cannot bring in any food that is not 100 percent kosher per their approval.  Visit: 
Our “new” home away from home is a three story house with a full basement. The Roth family consists of the two parents and eight children, (since then, they have had another child) so having us on the premises was not really “a big concern.” We are shown to our bedrooms -- all on the third floor where we will also have our own bathroom. Each bedroom has two twin beds. I am told that since I have medical issues, I can “break if necessary, some of the rules during the Sabbath. That is, if necessary, I can turn on the light inside my bedroom (with the door closed) if I should need to reach for medications or need to turn on my oxygen concentrator. We are told what areas of the kitchen we can use -- which utensils, plates, etc. We are told we should not cook anything on our own. Actually, while we are there, we are provided with wonderful meals -- so having plenty to eat was never a problem during our visit. And, they did all the clean up - although Adrienne and I did try to assist whenever possible. We were also shown the laundry room, located in the basement. While there, Brian and Adrienne noticed the game area. So, they quickly began playing with all the kids -- building a happy rapport with their younger cousins. 
Since we were there to do our show, we were often heading out the door during unusual hours. Fringe productions are done at different times, evenings and weekends. So we needed to go off to our shows even during times when they would be observing the Sabbath.w (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.) Again, they were extremely understanding. 
We also spent a quiet Sabbath weekend with them during our stay- - Edward and Brian going off to synagogue with the husband and “older boys” several times during that time period and Adrienne and I remaining home with the “girls” and “younger boys.” (I personally learned a great deal during this time and I often reflect back upon those hours spent reading quietly or talking amongst ourselves while also setting up the table for a meal when they returned from “shul.”    Go to:         While my “usual” life is very different, I think the four of us will agree that we all “learned” a lot over those three weeks and we certainly came to “admire” and “love” our family who -- while different -- were so accommodating and opened their home so graciously. For those three weeks of hospitality, we remain forever grateful to the Roth family.) 
Our first performance at the Kraine Theater in NYC   (Go to:            was on August 9. I would celebrate my 51st birthday on stage - live before an audience. I would also spend my first few moments behind stage feeling “sick to my stomach.I had a “bad case” of stage fright. I could not stop running to the bathroom and my hands were shaking. The fear I felt was overwhelming. I thought I would either have a stroke or heart attack. That’s how scared I was. And yet, I had agreed to do the show. Brian had tried, unsuccessfully, for years to get me to agree to do The Feldman Dynamic. I understood the premise of the show, but my fear of “being on stage” kept me from saying “yes.” Yet now, I was a cancer survivor. I had faced up to a bigger fear and was “winning the battle.” How could “stage fright” be more frightening than dealing with cancer? That was the issue at hand. That was the “reason” I had finally said “yes” to doing this project with the family. I realized that, even though I might be scared, it “would not kill me” to go on stage and perform. I would “live.” Thus, it took a cancer diagnosis for me to overcome my “fear” of being on stage. Weird? Perhaps? But I stand by my story.
We did perform our first show. I survived. Of course, I was so nervous I never ate anything we had brought onstage for dinner that night. I sipped a cup of tea. So, after the show -- after we took our bows and I realized I had “not had a heart attack” I was suddenly “famished.” Adrienne took me across the street from the theater to a small Italian restaurant where we had a delicious meal. Edward and Brian cleared off the stage and took a short walk while the two of use dined. Brian was happy I had done the show -- and wanted me to enjoy my birthday. And, it was a great birthday! 
I was alive... I had overcome a major fear that had gripped my life for a long time... and I was out on the town in NYC with my family - The Feldman Dynamic. Our show would not become a “huge hit” at the Fringe, (although the audiences who joined us, gave us great reviews)  but because it was so “unique” we were interviewed for TV and a brief segment of our show was seen on a Sunday edition of “The Today Show.”  We were also joined by some friends from the Philadelphia/South Jersey area during an early afternoon performance. Leslie and Jeff along with their sons, David and Jason as well as Barbara and Sonny and Rita and Ellis all came to see our show and afterwards, we  grabbed a bite at a nearby Jewish deli. That was a great afternoon, seeing friends and having a chance to catch up with “friendly gossip.” It was certainly a highlight for me. 
We did our shows and attended other Fringe performances during our visit to NYC. We also managed to pack in a few Broadway productions over our three week stay. We not only traveled everyday together for three weeks, The Feldman Dynamic became a much stronger entity. Edward, Brian, Adrienne and I all bonded in a way I never thought possible. As a cancer survivor, this “bond” was precious and life affirming.


  1. Another amazing strange it would be to go into an orthodox Jewish household for three weeks. I have many Jewish friends but none are "orthodox" which would quite honestly "freak me out" and I'm sure they'd be "freaked out" by me too! It must be a very difficult life to lead but I guess it's whatever you get used to. I'm glad you got to know these cousins and can appreciate their practices. Also glad the experience in NY brought the Feldman clan even closer.

  2. Quite honestly, it was an experience for all of us. They, too, had to learn about us. The children were most affected by our visit -- they really noticed the differences between the way we dressed, the way we went about our day (traveling by car, etc. on the Sabbath) and our lack of understanding some of the "rituals" that they live by everyday. However, I am so glad we got to visit and had this opportunity to learn more about our heritage. I was "freaked out" at times; Edward, Brian & Adrienne all had their "a ha" moments! We do stay in touch -- and Brian has visited with them on his own.