Coleman

My day jobs are acting, writing and directing. I typically say that whichever of the three I’m currently doing is the one I enjoy the most.

Right now I’m directing Arborphilia for Strollers Theatre, which was written by Jacob M. Appel. It explores the things that divide and unite us in a comedic way. After that Matt Korda will be directing  A Contest of Wills for the Broom Street Theater, which I also wrote, and in October we’ll be putting on a new play, Infamous Mothers, which I also wrote and which is adapted from a book by Sagashus T. Levingston. Her book—which is about 20 women and the things they’ve overcome—is non-fiction. The play is a hybrid of fictional women discussing some of the stories in her book. If you haven’t already discovered Sagashus, you should.

Live theater is magically different than movies or television. I love the art and craft of it and how it allows us to explore what it means to be human. It’s a communal, collaborative experience—each performance is different and the playwright, the director, the designer, the audience and the actors all make it happen together.

One of my most memorable theater-related experiences happened when I was in high school. Each year roughly 25 people from various fields are selected to receive the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement. High school students are selected to attend the award ceremony, where they have the chance to meet with one of the winners and I had the honor to be one of them. I was paired with that year’s theater recipient, Lee J. Cobb, who was the first person to play Willy Loman (in the Arthur Miller play, Death of a Salesman). It was quite a memorable experience, and one I’ve often thought of, especially when I later had the opportunity to play that role.

In addition to my work in theater, my husband and I run an inn in Mineral Point, Maplewood Lodge. And for a time, we also ran a small theater there—Alley Stage—where we showcased new plays.

My most memorable caffeine has been the 10,000+ cups my husband has brought to me in bed nearly every morning for the last 30 years.

My current caffeine of choice is Graffeo from San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. I first discovered it in 1975 when I was managing a restaurant in Ann Arbor and we took a food vacation to San Francisco. I have it shipped to me because I enjoy it so much.

My favorite place for caffeine is Café 43 Coffee House in Mineral Point. It’s a very small place—you could probably squeeze in a dozen people. But I can pretty much guarantee I’ll see four or six people I know every time I go there. It’s the nature of Mineral Point that you can’t go out without having a conversation with the neighbors!

The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with are Alan Cumming and my niece, Jennifer Pahlka.

Alan, because he is talented, funny, warm and you know he’d have some stories to tell. I just watched a concert with him on PBS and it was wonderful. He has a very good memoir that I’d highly recommend.

Jennifer is someone I just can’t get enough of. She started Code for America, a non-profit to help improve how the government functions. Most of her early work was for local and state governments; she was also hired by the Obama administration to work on technology issues related to Obama Care.

Here’s a great example of a Code America project, which was done for the State of California. If someone who had committed a minor criminal offense wanted to have their crime removed from the records, they used to have to go through a confusing and laborious process that involved a number of different government agencies. Thanks to Code America, they can now do it on an app. Code America’s projects are all open source so everyone can benefit from them.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  I’d love to give the perfect amount of caffeine to a Republican senator and a Democratic senator, put them together and see what happens.