Franny- Story teller

Franny outside her Ditmas Park apartment

Name:  Franny Silverman
Home town: Wanderer... (As a child i lived in Cleveland, OH; South Florida; Montgomery City Maryland; and Pittsburgh, PA -- My 7 year anniversary in new york marked the longest consecutive time i had lived in one place.)
Where you live now, and how many years: Brooklyn, NY -- 12 years
What you do/what is your passion: oh the question.  I'm an actor, a writer, a Theatre artist. I'm an educator. I share stories and guide other people to discover their own stories to share.

Isobel: Congratulations on being a soon-to-be mum! I know you do a lot of work with kids, teaching spirituality and Jewish cultural history. Are you excited about passing that on to your kid?

Franny: I work with kids as an artist and educator in the Jewish world with the goal of guiding little people to become the awesome big people they all have the potential to become.  It happens, that I found my teaching niche primarily in a Jewish context.  What's great about that, is that within that context, there are tons of rituals, holidays, stories and current events that provide incredible teachable moments.  And they're not all easy.  Many of them aren't.  So, am I excited to share rituals and teachable moments and wrestle big questions and probably argue about them as well, all with my own child? (Deeep breath.) Absolutely.

Isobel: The Passover Seder you hosted last year had a really big effect on me. I remember it was the moment I made a commitment to living a life that is more authentic. Can you talk a little about what Passover is about for you, and your approach to Judaism?

Franny:  All rituals, holidays and ceremonies, religious or secular from any tradition, offer an opportunity to mark time. And often when we mark time, we measure it as well -- take stock.  Where were we last Thanksgiving?  What is my New Year's Resolution going to be about this year? Passover asks us to invoke the epic journey of a people from slavery to freedom -- specifically the journey of the Hebrew people once upon a biblical time ago, but also, actually specifically also, to relate that mythic journey to our personal journeys or the journeys of other people that are relevant to us today. 

By committing to living a more authentic life in that moment, which I've watched you do with inspiring grace and enthusiasm over the last year, you've done just as the ancient rabbis would have wanted you to do.  Mazal Tov! The Hebrew word for Egypt, where the ancient Hebrews were enslaved according to the Torah, is Mitzrayim.  It means "a narrow place."  Passover is an invitation to break free from the chains that we find ourselves bound in, from the narrow places, from the feeling of being stuck that happens to all of us in different ways throughout our lives.  And simultaneously, we are invited to look at the world around us and see who else or what else is also stuck, also oppressed in some way, and to do what we can not only to free ourselves, but also to free the other.

Isobel: You are always working on a new exciting theater project. What's next for you, and how are you thinking about balancing your work, creative projects, and the new person coming into your life?

Franny:  Oh man, well, baking a baby has been my number one creative project this year.  I've done a few readings of new plays, and I'm working on a screenplay with my writing partner, but after an incredibly busy first 9 months of 2012, I slowed down a lot as a performer.  I don't know how long until I'm back on the stage, but I confess I'm not too worried about it.  As an artist and creative person, I'm in it for the long haul.  I never had my eye on fame, always just wanted to make and do. And while I would be grateful to be compensated well for making art, that is simply a rarity in the theatre world, even at the highest professional level.  Thankfully, I love teaching, which offers a bit more stability, and kids are magic.  And creativity is magic. So I think there will be a lot of magic happening in the next few years as my babe grows and becomes whomever babe will become. 

Franny and her mum, just after her baby brother was born.

Isobel: What was your mum like growing up, and how do you think that's effected your view of motherhood? Was she a stay-at-home mom or a working mum?

Franny: My mom is incredibly friendly and warm and loving.  She's always been very active in her community and had lots of friends no matter where we lived.  And she always worked.  Her field is medical records and when I was younger, she worked in hospitals and we were watched by this incredible pseudo-grandmother named Theresa who had a handful of kids that she looked after in her apartment.  By the time I was in third grade, and my youngest sibling was two, she began working from home, I think on a flex-time schedule. So she was around a lot. Which I'm lucky for.  While we get along very well for the most part, and yes we have some similar personality traits, there's a lot that is different.  Both she and my father were very supportive of my interest in the arts, but were not at all stage parents.  But they never told me I couldn't or shouldn't pursue acting as a career.  Which I really appreciate especially considering that they both worked in much more traditional professional fields. And while I don't think they completely understand the life of an artist, I know they really appreciate me and are in some ways amazed by what I do.  I hope to be as nurturing of my child as they grow up to be their own person.

Franny is wearing the Bryr abilene boot in ebony


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