LENOX – Picture this: a 10ft, over 10,000 pound elephant hanging out around a circus-themed party in the backyard of an affluent Los Angeles neighborhood.
For Melanie Greenberg, who grew up on the Upper East Side of New York City, the image not only serves as a symbol that she likens to how out of place she grew up and her teenage angst, but it t is also a real detail of his life story.
While not carrying an actual elephant with her, Greenberg, a new resident of Great Barrington, brings her story to life on the stage at the Apple Tree Inn on Friday night. Told against the backdrop of a psychedelic ayahuasca journey, the solo musical “The Elephant in the Room” takes audiences through poignant moments in Greenberg’s life, while paying homage to the performance tunes that helped her. to survive his education.
âI have a crazy story: I ran away from home when I was 15. I found myself in a family of born-agains. I’ve been sent to various institutions, âGreenberg said. âI took the events of my life and what I really did was rewrite them the way I wanted to tell them. I took every chapter of my show and found a Broadway musical that I love, to take my hat off, and kind of reimagined that chapter of my life as a musical that way. .
From the psychiatric ward to a “therapeutic” boarding school for troubled youth, to the Ivy League and drug rehab, Greenberg spent his adolescence and early adulthood browsing the full range of institutions. Americans, while trying to make sense of a strained relationship. with his mother.
Among the moments in her life that she reimagined, Greenberg said she considered the point of view of the psychiatric ward doctor and reimagined her as Miss Hannigan from the musical “Annie”.
“In my head, I always sing a song.”
By marrying trauma with music and comedy, “The Elephant In The Room” acts as an invitation from the narrator to the audience to reshape and reclaim their own stories. The process of creating this work only served to deepen Melanie’s belief that sharing stories is the key to understanding yourself and others.
In my mind I always sing a song so why not tell my story in a way that feels like the fantasy of how I want to live ie in a fabulous dress singing a song on the piano â , she said. . “It’s not everyone’s version, but for me it’s fantasy.”
Greenberg, who has written and performed his entire life, holds a master’s degree in fine arts from the New School of New York.
She was the creator and host of the YouTube channel, Kill Switch. She has also written, produced, and starred in a TV comedy pilot about a middle-aged mother trying to become YouTuber in order to gain the respect of her children.
“The Elephant in the Room”, however, is her first performance piece she wrote as well as her first autobiographical piece.
The show’s writing process allowed Greenberg to examine his own narrative from his own perspective as well as that of others.
It won the award for best comedy at the 2021 United Solo Festival.
The show is directed by Joanie Schultz with Bill Zeffiro as musical director. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Greenberg was able to reconnect with Schultz, who was a childhood best friend.
âI ran away from home when I was 15 to be with my childhood best friend, who was my soul mate at the time, like your 15 year old best friend. The series of events happened and I was fired and never saw her again, âGreenberg said. âI reconnected with her during the pandemic and found out that she was a stage director and I remember having chills and I was wondering, ‘is she going to end up directing my show ?’ And she did.
The storytelling has had such a powerful and healing impact on Greenberg’s life that she is also in the process of starting a Berkshires-based non-profit organization. “The sanctuary of history.” With the association, she hopes that individuals and communities in conflict can come together to develop empathy and self-awareness through storytelling.
Believing in the healing power of storytelling, Greenberg works with the New York-based nonprofit Open Doors, a project of the Center for Transformative Action on Roosevelt Island. Inspired by the stories she heard, she decided to tell her own poignant and unconventional story.
âWhen we share stories, we start to see this thread of humanity that connects us all. When I listen to the stories of these guys [from Open Doors,] there is something about the humanity of the story or the feelings they had that I can relate to. There is something universal, âshe said. âFor me, that’s what I love about storytelling. It connects us to each other.