Occupation: I am the founder and artistic director of Stray Kats Theatre, and an actress. I have been known to write professionally, scripts, mostly. I tend to conquer goals and then move on! I’m also the coordinator of workshops for the new HealingNewtown Arts Space. We have workshops there coming up on sound circles, drum circles, clay workshops, murals, with music and art therapists, and lots of other subjects. There’s something for all ages, and currently, all of the classes are offered for free.
Family: I am married to Don Striano. We have two children. Keith is married to Danielle. He is on the terrorist response team at Newark Airport. Our son Ben is a speech and language pathologist at Danbury Hospital. We have two grandchildren. Gabriella is nearly 4 and Nicholas is 6 months old.
Pets: We have a rescue dog named Tessie, named for the tractor supply company she came from. She’s just a year old, a mixed breed. My son went to Milford one day, called me and said, “I want to bring this dog home…”
How long have you been in Newtown? We moved here in May of 1996.
What do you like to do in your free time? In the old days, I did all kinds of needlework. Not so long ago, I wrote some screenplays. Now, I just write for the kids’ plays — the Stray Kittens group. I go to plays whenever I can. I like to bike, when it’s flat. I play golf when I have time. I love to golf when I visit my mother, in Florida. I love being in my backyard, just reading, sitting in the hammock, and taking a moment to just relax.
Do you have a favorite author? I love books that are based on history, but fiction, like the early works of Leon Uris and Meyer Levin. I learned everything I know about Ireland from Uris’s Trinity.
Do you have a favorite play? Angels in America. I thought, “This is why we are supposed to write — to illuminate.” It made me angry about all the other plays that were on Broadway.
Do you have a favorite travel destination? We went to Italy last October, my first trip there. It was outstanding. My next goal is Spain. I really want to go there. I went to Israel in my 20s, and it was magical.
What is the best thing about Newtown? I spent 25 years on the upper West Side of Manhattan. I’ve lived here since 1996 and every time I make the turn onto my street, I still can’t believe I live here. It’s peaceful, and it’s beautiful. I never saw a leaf open on a tree until I lived here. In Manhattan, you don’t have the contact with nature that we do here. I even love the deer — I’m sorry!
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? I had an English teacher in high school, Russell Bonnano. He was my theater teacher. He taught “outside the box” thinking. He’d write these incredible graphs on the blackboard, connecting ideas you’d never think of. He never said you were wrong, as long as you could support your thesis. I find I always look “under” now. For me, the words are the last element of theater when writing. You need to know where they come out of.
Do you have a guilty pleasure? I have to give it up, but chocolate is my guilty pleasure — no nuts. There was a Kron chocolate store in Manhattan years ago. They did truffles that were squarish and unshaped, but dusted in unsweetened cocoa. Your first taste was bitter, and then the sweetness would just ooze out and your salivary glands would be going nuts. That was my ultimate chocolate experience!