July 30  – August 4, 2018

Theatre is about what happens at the edge: the edge of what is known, what is conscious, and what is expected. In this workshop you give yourself permission to take creative risks, delve deeply into the story within you that “must be told” in order to create theatre from your deepest concerns – all in a safe and supportive setting.

We will use voice work, movement, journaling, improvisation and guided fantasy to discover our personal, mythic, and ancestral stories and to shape them into solo or ensemble performances.



Helen has been creating, performing, directing and teaching collaborative and solo theatre for over twenty-five years.  She has guided dozens of workshop participants in creating and performing their own solo performances as well as ensemble theatre. She has taught college students, patients dealing with serious illness, inner city teens, theatre professionals, schoolteachers, and immigrant parents. Her specialty – and joy – is guiding participants in uncovering the stories most important to them and crafting the best theatrical form for that narrative. Helen teaches workshops and classes in solo performance, ensemble creation, “Slow Theatre”, community-based theatre-making, as well as “Ancestor Dialogues” (drawing on our family ancestors – both real and imagined – as creative guides) and “Animal Wisdom” (exploring how our relationship with a particular animal – real or imagined – may inform and deepen our creative work). This “animal wisdom” was the inspiration for her play, Like A Mother Bear, playing at the Ko Festival July 27 – 29. Her popular “Theatre As If Your Life Depended On It” workshops encourage participants to take creative risks in a safe and supportive setting and tell those stories “that must be told.”

She is a founder and co-artistic director of Black Swan Arts & Media, based in Oakland, California, that creates and produces original performance works. BSAM’s most recent works are: The Prepared Table: A Feast of Foods, Live Performance, and Stories from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the FOB (Forward Operating Base of the US Military), a multimedia response to the post 9/11 wars, Heart of America: Stories from the New Ellis Island, an aerial dance work on immigration, and, Like A Mother Bear, a solo performance work that explores the intersection of ecology, myth, and healing. (at the Ko Festival July 27 – 19, 2018)


In 2004 Helen founded ALICE Arts, later renamed Black Swan Arts & Media. For its first ten years ALICE’s education arm also brought professional artists into Bay Area classrooms to teach performing and visual arts to over 12,000 Oakland youth. The Ancestor Project, an oral history and performing arts program, collected hundreds of oral histories from immigrants over a period of six years and provided the text for the professional performance work, Heart of America.

Helen is former co-artistic director of the former internationally acclaimed ensemble, A Traveling Jewish Theatre—and its only non-Jewish member. Over her 15-year tenure with ATJT she co-created, directed, and performed in eight original mainstage plays. Her plays have been performed worldwide, from The Los Angeles Theatre Festival to Hamburg’s Sommer Theatre Festival, and from Prague to Appalachia.

Helen also co-wrote and starred in a film adaptation of her solo play, Like a Mother Bear. It won the Best Docudrama award from the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, and an award for creative excellence from the Earthvision Environmental Film and Video Festival. Helen has received numerous additional awards for her work, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, City of Oakland Cultural Arts Program, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.


Workshops are geared for participants of all levels of experience, whose ages have run from 18-85. Workshops will meet from 10 am – 4 pm, Monday through Saturday, in Studio II of Webster Hall on the Amherst College campus in Amherst, MA.

Driving Instructions to Amherst College

Amherst College campus map.

Workshops cost $399. There is a $50 discount for registration by April 15. NOTE: Contact us to apply for a very limited pool of partial financial aid, or for discounts for NET (Network of Ensemble Theaters) members.

Optional room and board are available on the Amherst College campus for an additional fee. Housing, in a single with a shared bath in an Amherst College dorm is $238 for the week. All rooms are provided with a bed, desk, chair, mirror, chest of drawers, closet or wardrobe, pillow and blanket. You have the option to rent linens for your stay (x-long twin sheet set, pillowcase  towels) for an additional $15. Studios, theatre, dining commons and dorms are all within walking distance. Meals in the Amherst College Dining Commons (tasty, healthy food – much of it local) can be paid for on a per meal basis There are also many places to eat within walking distance in the center of town.

Email us, if you are interested in alternative housing. There are a number of hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts in the area.


STEP 1: Click HERE  to download the registration form. ALL WORKSHOP STUDENTS PAYING BY CHECK MUST SUBMIT THIS FORM either via email or by post.
STEP 2. Print out your registration form and make your deposit check out to Ko Theater Works. Mail them to The Ko Festival of Performance 498 South Gulf Road Belchertown, MA 01007
Questions? For further information email us or call (413) 427-6147.

Additional information

Payment Options

$206 deposit (includes $6.00 processing fee), $205 Pay Balance (includes $6.00 processing fee), $409 Pay in full (includes $10 processing fee)

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