Press Release from Nov/Dec 2001 Performances of "Now What?" in Boston

Actress Daena Giardella Premiered "Now What?" At Davis Square’s Nexus Theatre Center, November 30-December 15, 2001
Improvisation Performances
Read about Daena's reflections on creating "Now What?"

"One Year Later…Taos Remembers September 11"
Special Commemorative Event

View "Now What?" video clips

"An enormously talented performer/improviser with a dancer's agility and a blues belter's larynx,"
-The Boston Phoenix.

"Daena is extraordinary...very talented, very funny." - Howard Zinn, author

In her latest one woman production "Now What?" actress and comedian Daena Giardella tackled the outrageous challenge of being human in the rapidly changing terrain of everyday life since September 11. How do we keep balancing the breaking news overload, the roller coaster of emotions, and the contradictory media messages for us to be on high alert while returning to our new “normal” life? Daena takes audiences on a gutsy, poignant, humorous and riveting journey through the complexities of these extraordinary times.

A trailblazer in improvisational theatre for over twenty years, Daena Giardella weaves a dynamic tapestry of stories, observations, monologues, humor and characters drawn from the recent events that have turned our world upside down. "Now What?" takes on some of the unspoken questions and issues surrounding these compelling events while giving voice to individual stories that are emerging in the aftermath. Daena incorporates her experiences with gas masks, scud missiles, “safe rooms”, and the threat of bio-chemical weaponry while living in Israel during the Persian Gulf War. "Now What?" dissects the paradoxes and incongruities that are pulsing around us as we try to makes sense of the unfolding saga that continues to transform our lives.Improvisation Performances

“Giardella ranges from humor to pathos and turns a simple newspaper reading into a battle with the brutalities of life” -New England Entertainment Digest

“Giardella is a phenomenon--a classic actress, an intelligent clown” -Tel Aviv Ha’eer

With emotional immediacy, Daena creates a rich world of characters, shifting seamlessly from one scene/persona to another as she casts her spell from threads of everyday life, breaking news, edgy satire, dramatic stories, and mind-boggling images. One moment wildly hilarious, the next profoundly moving,

“Giardella has a knack for imaginative metamorphosis” -Boston Globe

"Now What?" features special guest musicians each evening, including singer Wren Ross, keyboardist Alizon Lissance, and guitarist Andy Solberg. In collaboration with her musical guests and the audience, Daena fuses music, theatre, dance and comedy to make each performance a multi-dimensional adventure.


One of the early headlines after Sept 11 read: ”NEW YORKERS LEARN TO IMPROVISE.” The word “improvise” caught my eye as I imagined the thousands of displaced residents who had lived near the WTC as well as the thousands of families who had lost loved ones. I also remember thinking, “But New Yorkers are already great improvisers--living in New York is about gaining gritty mastery in navigating an endless obstacle course of city life!” And still, nothing could have prepared anyone for this brutal interruption of life. As I watched the television coverage of one devastating image after another, my heart was teeming with sadness and compassion. I was riveted by the revelations of each piece of the story. And then the individual stories of heroism, love, loss, triumph, and grief began to emerge. I soon realized that my deepest need was to hear as many stories as possible, to touch each strand of every account as if I could somehow sew each person’s experience together into a delicate human quilt in my heart. I wanted to hear the sound of the firefighters’ voices as they spoke with tenderness, pain and resolve about their rescue efforts. I needed to watch the subtle facial movements and listen to the words of the wives and partners of the passengers who confronted the hijackers over Pennsylvania. I wanted to hear the perspectives and responses of people who were living in other countries. During those first early hours, even the unusually emotional inflections and stammerings of the newscaster voices revealed a stunning humanity that was somehow strangely comforting. Gone for a moment were the slick confident news voices that can make even the most messy world events sound scripted and polished. Suddenly we were all thrown together into the ultimate improvisation. A moment to moment watching, waiting, and processing of the details of an unimaginable story. And, for a few short days, there were no commercials on TV. Only the unfolding bits of information and story. There was a silence behind the coverage that seemed to last an eternity. We all paused to focus together on the same event at the same time. The clutter of busy schedules gave way to a new “normal” that made room for moments of kindness with strangers.

I eventually realized that a vital part of our healing would be found in this most basic need for humans to recover, affirm and tell our stories again and again as we grapple with the meaning of our lives. Stories heal us and reveal us. And of course, all stories begin as an improvisation. I have always believed that improvisation is an art and practice that requires and develops in us the same skills and qualities that are most needed in everyday life. One of the key skills in improvisation is the ability to “go with what is happening”, to receive and build upon the creative invitations from others in the scene. Instead of falling into the habitual “no” reflex which arises to shield us from our fear of the unknown, the improviser hunts for the “yes.” It is a continuous search for honest choices that open possibilities and move events forward. The more we practice the skills of improvisation, the more we cultivate trust in ourselves to be present and alive in the moment. The challenge is to embrace and believe in the present moment as if it were the first, the last, the only moment--to choose to participate fully and constructively when faced with the unexpected. The current international circumstances are certainly inviting all of us around the world to reckon with our relationship to the volatile nature of our present moments as we look to build the tender bonds of a common “yes” together.

Tonight’s performance is dedicated to this irascible spirit of improvisation that we are all challenged to sharpen and rely on right now. After being immersed in the various images and stories of the past weeks since Sept. 11, I felt compelled to respond as an artist to the events of these extraordinary times. We have created an evening of structured improvisations on the theme of "Now What?" Each performance will be different as we respond to new events of the day as well as the unique chemistry of each audience. I will also be joined by different outstandingly talented musicians each weekend. We are delighted that you have joined us tonight!



Daena Giardella has created and performed internationally numerous solo and collaborative theatre productions . Her work has been seen at the International School for Movement Theatre and Mime Festival, The World Symposium on Humanity in Toronto, the U.N. Conference on Women in Copenhagen, the Susan Dell Center for Dance and Theatre in Tel Aviv, as well as other theatres in Israel. For over two decades she has been pioneering a uniquely innovative style of performance which incorporates dramatic story form, depthful characterization and comedic elements in the creation of a new “improvisational theatre aesthetic”. Her one-woman shows including “Play!,” “Bare Essentials,” “Moment to Moment,” and “Yes To Everything!” have been enthusiastically received in the U.S. and abroad and have earned her loyal followings.

Daena was invited to Poland to work with legendary theatre director Jerzy Grotowski in his experimental Theatre of Sources project. While living in Tel Aviv during the Gulf War, Daena turned her wartime experience into the powerful “Moment to Moment,” which enjoyed successful runs in Israel as well as in several Boston and New York venues. Her production, “Bare Essentials” received kudos from both audiences and press during her two sold-out runs in Boston. “Play!,” a performance about the work mania of the 90’s had its premiere and successful run at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art Theatre.

Daena’s numerous TV and radio credits include the PBS series “Discovering Psychology” which has aired for over a decade and she has recently been working on a TV pilot for Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen network. She has also been on the faculty of both Emerson College and Boston Conservatory, and under a grant from Harvard University, she was drama director at Roxbury High School. Daena currently offers many improvisational acting workshops throughout the country. She has also worked as a communications consultant in many organizations and corporations.

For more information call 617.924.9596 or by email:
© 2000 Daena Giardella

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