-How far will you travel?
Anywhere in the U.S., Canada, and English-speaking Europe.
-Is there a limit to the audience size?
I have performed for audiences of 5,000 and groups of 8-12 people. I ask that whoever is sponsoring the show consider what usually “works” best in their school.
-What is the cost to book the show?
Call the office for current rates: 413-267-5557. Or email Booking/Operations Manager.
Booking fees are priced per performance. The rate is adjusted for multiple shows in a day or multi-day time frame within the same area. Financial aid from partnering non-profits is available and anyone wishing to book a show, regardless of budget, should call, e-mail, or fill out the online booking form.
-Is there an age limit?
Yes and no. I would not recommend the show for students below 6th grade. Not because there is anything inappropriate (my daughter is 8 and she's been in in the audience) but because conceptually, the show is more abstract than a “D.A.R.E.” program or a motivational speaker. I also perform quite a bit for college age audiences as freshman orientations find the show a perfect fit. The show is adjusted depending on the age of the audience.
-We are a private school, civic organization or religious group and our funding is limited. We want to book you but we do not have the entire amount. Can you help?
Most likely. There is a space to mention your special circumstances in the online booking form.
-Are there any technical requirements I should know about?
Yes. They are minimal but important. Please read the planning and resources page.
-We have 1500 students and our auditorium holds 500. What do you recommend?
A few options. You could do just 1 or 2 grade levels, and then have me back every year or every other year. Or you could do multiple shows in the same day at a discounted rate.
-Do you perform just for students? What about parents?
I perform for all ages. The show was originally created to be performed in an evening theater setting but I adapt it depending on the audience age. I definitely recommend getting the parents involved as much as possible. Sometimes I will do a student show in the day and then a parent show at night.
-How long is the show? Can you shorten the show?
The show is roughly 70 minutes. I can shorten it to 60 (maybe in a pinch 45-50) or extend it to 90 by either cutting some parts or having an extended Q&A or debriefing afterward. I cannot shorten the show too much because there is an element of plot and character development in it. If your periods are 45 minutes then you should block two periods for the show.
-Why do you talk about drugs? Are you an addict?
I am not an addict. I have never been in prison. I do not conduct a “scared straight” type program nor do I believe fear works as a long term motivator. But I do believe that love and compassion can help people be their best. I talk about drugs because I grew up with my immediate family and friends who were addicts, some of whom were taken from me.
-Is there religion or politics in your show?
No. Not at all. None. Zippo. Zilch. Those two things unfortunately often divide more than they unite. The show stands on its own. That said, I often perform at Catholic schools and synagogues and sometimes the rabbi or priest will let me know that they are celebrating a certain event or emphasizing a certain theme for the school (Forgiveness, Redemption, Kindness etc) and they will ask if I can incorporate the theme or idea into the show. I am always more than happy to do that the best I can.
-What is your background and training?
I am not a psychologist or drug counselor or teacher. Although I have found myself in those roles, I am an actor and comedian. I hold a BA in theatre and communications from Evangel University, and I have spent 6 years as a touring comedian. I sometimes consider myself a “performance artist” if I’m trying to impress artsy people. Or if my mothers’ friends are asking I refer to myself as a “doctor.”
So what DOES “dirt” stand for?
Dirt is not an acronym like D.I.R.T. It “stands” for nothing. It’s just a provocative name for the show I decided on back in 2002. I chose it for several reasons.
1. First and foremost I noticed myself using the word or the image in just about every character.
2. The poem “I Am Dirt,” which is read in the show as Pi’s entry in the town poetry festival, was written long before the show was conceived. I wrote it when I was contemplating the thoughts and feelings of a young addict.
3. It was the name of the album I was listening to by Alice In Chains. Their lead singer passed away from a drug overdose, an event which many fans saw coming in his lyrics unfortunately. To this day that album takes me to a strange place.
4. Something I found out later was that I inadvertently used the title of a monologue section from a character by Eric Bogosian in HIS one man show “Sex, Drugs, And Rock & Roll.” There is really no similarity whatsoever to the show or character. Total coincidence and maybe a little sponginess on my part. Eric Bogosian was a big influence on my acting and showed me that the possibilities are limitless for what can be done by one man on stage.
5. My dad may have been the biggest influence on why the show is called "Dirt." He was a WWII veteran who, as B-24 gunner, flew 25 dangerous missions over Europe. I was over his house hanging out with him and I asked if in the war he had any good luck charms. He showed me his dog tags with a St. Anne medal attached to it. But he also told me that, for good luck, he and his crew would grab a handful of dirt and put it in their pockets before they took off. When they landed, they would empty the dirt back out on the ground.