Join us 4/29/17 at Act3 Productions!

Meet the cast!
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Cast Spotlight: Heather Tolley-Bauer

by jana on April 24, 2017

Heather Tolley-Bauer is a wife-mom-comedian-cancer-survivor-straight-shooting-cracker-upper-of-audiences-and-encourager-of-women who believes there is power in hyphens. Obviously.

She started doing stand-up comedy after transitioning from the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds into one of the hardest yet most hilarious jobs there is: being a stay-at-home mom. Her observational humor is liberation and inspiration all rolled into one—not just for her, but for audiences who need a hall pass from the pressures of parenting, Pinterest and the PTA.

In the last year, Heather has found an even more important reason to laugh her butt off: her recovery from colon cancer. Now, more than ever, she’s determined to speak up and encourage women to genuinely embrace their stories, love themselves, and to remember it’s okay to eat a freakin cupcake once-in-awhile.

You can find more from Heather on Facebook. Search pages at @hyphenup or via her website, HyphenUp.com.

Heather Tolley-Bauer

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a 47 year-old, stay-at-home mom whose supertalent is listening to my gut.

I listened to my gut when I agreed to go on a date with this guy who was 5 years younger than I and finishing his college degree. I was a grown up with a job and recovering from a bad breakup, but my gut told me it was okay to follow my heart, so I did, and we’ve been crazy-in-love for 21 years.

I listened to my gut when I took a comedy class and not a pole dancing class. Now I have a comedy career and not a broken hip.

I listened to my gut last year when my dermatologist strongly recommended I get a colonoscopy, so I did. I was only 45 and had no problems, signs or symptoms, yet I had colon cancer anyway. I was told this cancer would’ve killed me in five years, but thanks to catching it early, I’m now living cancer-free

These days, I’m also listening to my gut as I launch Hyphen Up, a movement using my comedy to encourage women to embrace their own gut feelings—those things we know way-deep down to be true but get lost on the way to our hearts and brains. Things like: “I deserve to like myself,” “Forgetting about the bake sale does NOT make me a bad mother,” or “Nobody’s face is going to fall off around here if I take a ‘me’ day.” Yep! Guts and hyphens—powerful stuff.

What’s your favorite piece of writing you’ve ever hit publish on? 

My wedding vows and this comedy set.

As a child, did you listen to your mother? When did you start realizing she may actually know what she’s talking about?

Did I listen to my mother? Ummm no, not even a little bit. I’m not sure when I first started to realize that my mom is awesome. I’m just glad we both lived long enough to see it. .

If your mother is still living, do you listen to your mother now?

Of course I do, unless she calls during the Bachelor.

If you have children, what are some things you hope your children take from you, whether you think they’re listening or not?

Choose laughter, be kind to yourself and others, but most of all – stay away from my Girl Scout cookies.

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Cast Spotlight: Melanie Knauff

by jana on April 21, 2017

After accidentally setting fire to a gas station, romping around the pyramids on a camel, and hiking a trail by hanging onto chains embedded in the mountain wall, Melanie and her husband, Doug, moved from sunny South Florida to Dahlonega, Georgia to lead a calmer life. But, she brought crazy with her. She is zany, loaded with energy and full of chaos. Fortunately, her husband, a retired engineer and therapist, brings a dose of sanity to her life. Although she never had children, she was a mother to many during her twenty-two years of teaching reading, drama, critical thinking, ESOL, special education, and mostly, 6th grade language arts. Once Palm Beach County’s Teacher of the Year, she is now retired. When she isn’t traveling the US in her camper, she enjoys volunteering in schools and with Bear on the Square Mountain Festival. In her spare time, she loves painting, and avoiding housework. A portion of her day is devoted to walking 20,000 steps as part of her family/friends fitness challenge. (Unfortunately, she’s only surpassed her 85 year old father’s seven-day step average once) Most of all, she loves writing and taking to the stage to tell tales of laughter.

Melanie Knauff

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was a problem child, a mother’s worst nightmare. I almost failed high school for lack of a physical education credit. I didn’t think the white snap-front gym suit the school required was flattering, so I refused to dress out. My mother just prayed I’d meet a nice man and get married. Just to rebel, I went to college instead. At the age of thirty-eight, I was the first in the Hubbard clan to ever get a degree.

I didn’t manage to find that husband until I was fifty-three (runaway fiancée several times) He claims to have married me because I’m boisterous, crazy and spontaneous. Of course, those are the same reasons he refuses to travel abroad with me. He can’t get past the time I left the tour company in Egypt, so I could travel on a local bus with goats, chickens, and not a soul that spoke English, so I could get a feel for the culture and see Mt. Sinai. Or that later, due to that excursion, I was detained three hours in the airport and put on a terrorist watch list. But it was exciting.

My students would also describe me as a lunatic. I’m not sure what gave them that impression. Was it the time I twerked during the student/teacher dance contest? (One boy reported his eyes permanently damaged.) Or was it the time I changed the five second rule to the five day rule, so I could eat an M&M I found on the classroom floor. Or maybe, it is the fact I dumpster dive and trash pick to up-cycle or deliver to donation centers. This I tell them as I require a pinky swear to recycle.

Of course, as they say, “what goes around comes around.” Along with my wonderful husband I mentioned earlier, comes a very insane mother-in-law. I know everyone says that, but mine bakes me apple pies because fruit is on my diet.

What’s your favorite piece of writing you’ve ever hit publish on? 

I am yet unpublished. I have no clue what is taking them so long. However, my favorite piece I’ve written, which I often perform is titled “Medical Emergency”. It is based on my niece who attempted to pose as someone with medical training. (She did watch numerous medical shows like, ER, on TV) in order to meet a doctor requiring assistance when he is forced to perform an emergency procedure on a plane. Although, I went to extreme measures to meet Mr. Right, I didn’t go that far. Probably because I didn’t fly much.

As a child, did you listen to your mother? When did you start realizing she may actually know what she’s talking about?

I always listened to my mother, and then did the exact opposite. For instance, she said, “Don’t run around barefoot.” (I had a skin condition). Of course, I jumped off a curb (barefooted, of course), landed on a piece of metal, and hobbled home in a shoe filled with blood. I was sure my mother paid the doctor to give me a tetanus shot to exact revenge on me.

If your mother is still living, do you listen to your mother now?

I’m still to stubborn to listen. Now that we’re both older, at least we can laugh about it. On my wedding day, she said, “Melanie, you’d better pin that dress up in the back. You’re dragging it on the ground. It’s getting all dirty and you’ll never be able to wear it again.” Fortunately, my husband is a prince, and I haven’t need the dress again.

If you have children, what are some things you hope your children take from you, whether you think they’re listening or not?

I don’t have children, but if I did, my advice would be:

Always be true to yourself and others. As a teacher, if a child admitted a mistake, they had a shot at a free pass; lie and the gauntlet would drop.

Take care of the earth and ALL the people in it; it’s the true test of who you are.

And don’t forget to laugh; when you bend over and accidentally pass gas in front of your class, there is really nothing else you can do.

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Cast Spotlight: Debbie From

April 20, 2017

Debbie grew up listening to the stories of her elders and continues the tradition of storytelling today by sharing stories at a variety of venues. She also facilitates storytelling workshops for all ages. In 2011, she received her Master of Arts in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University. She is a current member of the National Storytelling Network and the Southern Order of Storytellers and served as the Georgia State Liaison for the National Storytelling Network for three years. In 2013, Debbie created The MamaLogs Project where she combines her two passions of parenting and storytelling. She interviews women (and men) and then crafts the interviews into adult themed monologues to share from the stage. In 2015, Debbie received the Seanachie Award from the Southern Order of Storytellers for her support of storytelling in all its forms. She was recognized for her contribution within the family of the Southern Order of Storytellers as […]

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Cast Spotlight: Pamela Wright

April 19, 2017

Pamela Wright is a native Atlantan and graduate of Georgia State University, where she earned a B.S. in Psychology (although she learned more about human behavior at the bartending jobs that paid for it.) Her personal essays have previously been published by Full Grown People (“Under the Florentine Moon”), The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (“Back to My Roots”), Purple Clover (“Sweating Bullets”), and in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Cats” (2014). She is a recipient of a 2016 Solas Award for Funny Travel Writing and the 2016 Rick Bragg Prize for Nonfiction. In a recent change of genre, Pamela has begun work on her first novel: a comic Christmas tale about an eccentric, old line Southern family with secrets to spare and a one-eyed cat named Melvin. She is lives in the Clarkdale Historic District in southwest Cobb County. Tell us a little about yourself. Five Lesser Known Facts About […]

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Cast Spotlight: Tiffany Courtney

April 18, 2017

Tiffany is a native of the Mississippi Delta, was raised in the heart of Texas, summered on the plains of Kansas, and escaped to Louisiana to attend college before migrating to Atlanta, finally finding home. She’s a wife, mother, sister, daughter, reader, writer and Realtor— rarely in that order but always with those priorities. She is an avid proponent of sustainable communities, volunteering with programs that support families, local schools and the arts. She’s also at work on her first book, a coming-of-age narrative with plenty of moments when the narrator does not listen to her mother.   Tell us a little about yourself. I love quotes! Actually, I love words, and great quotes are some brilliant soul’s words, stacked and organized, punctuated and connected. They’re like a snapshot of someone’s inner workings that connect to something in you. In the 90s, I put my quote collection to work on my answering machine greeting. In […]

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