Archive for August, 2013

DIY Art Therapy

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

It is a wonderful and adaptive quality of human beings to find creative ways to get unstuck and continue our personal growth journeys.  Here’s a link to an NPR story about a woman who faced her fears through art and through reaching out to others:



Death Valley: A Love Story

Friday, August 2nd, 2013


Some of you know that our offices have been a part-time art gallery—the Painted Desert—on  First Fridays.  We’re taking a break now but I wanted to let you know of a related event happening in August.   The first two art shows for the Painted Desert Gallery four years ago were the photography of David Nutter followed by an exhibit of Carol Emerson’s collages.  These shows and the narrative around them have been made into a play.  Below is an adaptation of the press release for the upcoming performance.  I have had the good fortune to share space with the exhibits and to see  the first reading of the play—which were all very moving. Please go and see the production!



My personal experiences of Dave and Carol’s shows as they relate to my work as a therapist are addressed in two posts from the Summer of 2009.  Dave, a psychiatrist, was a colleague and mentor of mine at the Samaritan Counseling Center. The posts are at and .

~Perry J Hazeltine~


“Death Valley: A Love Story,” a new full-length play by Lancaster-based author and playwright Sandy Asher, will be given its first public, rehearsed reading on Thursday, August 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, August 25 at 2:30 p.m. at Tellus360, 24 E. King Street, Lancaster.

Inspired by the photographs, collages, and journals of Lancaster artist/ therapist Carol Emerson and the late psychiatrist/photographer David Nutter, “Death Valley: A Love Story” will be directed by Laura Korach Howell, executive director of The People’s Shakespeare Project and will feature well-known area actors Anne Meeder, Sharon Mellinger, and Lisa Budwig. Carol L. Woodman will serve as stage manager.

“Because this is a memory play,” Asher explains, “I wanted all of the characters and action to be filtered through the one person remembering what happened.  So all three actors play Carol at various moments, but they also play everyone else involved in the story, male and female. They transform instantly with the help of only a few props and their own inventiveness. It’s quite a challenge, but Laura has chosen her actors well.”

Development of the script began several years ago at the Painted Desert Gallery when Asher saw David Nutter’s photographs of Death Valley displayed along with snippets of prose and poetry from his journal and Carol’s.  “I was deeply moved by both the visual art and the language,” Asher recalls, “and suggested to Carol that the combination might make a wonderful book or play.  She generously allowed me to read the full journals, and the script began to take shape.”

The story taken from journal to stage begins in the winter of 2003, when, during their first joyful year of being in love, Carol and David spent a week in Death Valley.  There David took dozens of photos but also began experiencing symptoms that were diagnosed on their return home as Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  Months of chemotherapy followed, leading in a stem cell transplant that went awry, ending David’s life.  Both kept journals throughout this ordeal, and Carol continued hers after David’s death.  The play opens and closes with slide shows created by David’s son AJ Nutter of David’s photography and Carol’s collages.

Though a personal, local story, “Death Valley” explores universal experiences of love, loss, grief, and recovery.  “Carol hopes sharing her process will prove helpful to others,” Asher says, “and I’m confident it will. Trusted friends and colleagues who have read or heard the script have encouraged us to continue working on it.  These readings are the next step.  The audiences’ responses will affect the play’s future development.”

General admission to the readings is $10. Reservations may be made at the Tellus360 store or on-line at


Proceeds will benefit the Samaritan Counseling Center’s “Silent Samaritan” program. Silent Samaritans are women of compassion in the community who are able to share with women in need of professional counseling. This program is underwritten by individual, corporate, and foundation gifts. Women are invited to contribute annually $100 or more, tax deductible. To see a video about the Silent Samaritans and other Samaritan programs, visit For more information contact Anita Hanna at  or call 717-560-9969.


Company Bios

SANDY ASHER‘s plays have been produced nationally and internationally and honored with an NEA grant, three AATE Distinguished Play Awards (for A Woman Called Truth, In the Garden of the Selfish Giant, and Jesse and Grace: A Best Friends Story), the Charlotte Chorpenning Award for a distinguished body of work, and an Aurand Harris Fellowship grant from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.  Six of her scripts are included in Tell Your Story: The Plays and Playwriting of Sandra Fenichel Asher.  Sandy lives in Lancaster City.


LAURA KORACH HOWELL is an Equity actress, a roster artist with The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a seasoned theatre teacher and director. She received her training at Circle-in-the-Square Theatre (NYC), The Actor’s Center (NYC) and Shakespeare & Co. (Lenox, MA). She has directed professionally and taught students of all ages for over thirty years.  Laura is the founder and artistic director of the People’s Shakespeare Project.  She lives in Lancaster.


LISA BUDWIG has been active in Central Pennsylvania theatre for eight years, performing at Oyster Mill Playhouse, Theatre Harrisburg, York Little Theatre, and with The Creative Works of Lancaster.  Lisa lives in Lemoyne and acts professionally as a Standardized Patient at the Penn State Hershey School of Medicine, where she simulates patients in a variety of clinical and ethical scenarios to assist medical students in learning and practicing empathetic, patient-centered communication, diagnostic and examination skills.


ANNE MEEDER holds a B.S. degree in Speech, Communications and Theater Arts from Clarion State University.  She is a professional member of NDEO – The National Dance Education Organization. Anne works as a drama and dance educator in the Lancaster area, and her leading theatrical roles in musical theater and the opera span twenty-five years. She remains active as a dancer, actor, choreographer, singer, director and teacher while working as a teaching artist at The Fulton’s Academy of Theatre.  She lives in Lancaster City.  


SHARON MELLINGER’s extensive theater background includes work for CoMotion, Theatre of the Seventh Sister, Creative Works of Lancaster, Woodstove House,  and EPAC.  Earlier this summer, she played the nurse in the People’s Shakespeare Project production of “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Laura Korach Howell.  Sharon lives in Lancaster City, works at Lancaster Dispensing Company, is a voracious reader, writer, and pedestrian, and a dedicated Cat Co-habitator.


CAROL L. WOODMAN A graduate of Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting and directing, Carol has more recently received her Pennsylvania certification as a Special Education teacher and works for Lancaster Lebanon IU13. Since moving to Lancaster in 1996, Carol has also volunteered with Dramability, a theatre group in which high school students and young adults with disabilities learn to develop their performance skills.