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Monday, February 14, 2011

Lady Aston's BarnStone Salon: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference, by John Capecci

(This series of posts describes the projects each of seven artists brought to "Lady Aston's BarnStone Salon," held in early February at my home in Charles City, VA. The first of the series was posted Feb. 7, 2011.)

John Capecci is my best friend from grad school days. 

He and I co-edit a series of monologue collections for actors. (They're excellent. You should buy some.) For his current project, a book is titled, Living Proof: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference, John has partnered with his long time BFF Timothy Cage, and I'm really hurt and jealous. In fact, as I write this, I am crying. But suddenly I remember I don't have more than 20 years experience in communication training like Tim does,  and suck it up. 

At the Salon, John introduced his book, and asked for comments on content and/or clarity.  

Living Proof helps public advocates and spokespersons with the essential skills necessary to tell their stories effectively, authentically, and powerfully. John talked about how much he loves doing this work, which brings together his love of, and backgrounds in narrative theory, public address, performance, and advocacy.

Let's say I was adopted many years ago in a closed adoption. I have no birth certificate, and even though I have been met my birth parents, the state of NY still will not issue a birth certificate, which greatly limits my freedoms as a citizen of the United States. The law needs to be changed, and I want to tell my story as a way to advocate for that change. Living Proof tells me how to focus my story and goals, how to assemble and craft it, and how to deliver it.

Or, let's say I have heart disease, and want to advocate for increased public awareness of heart disease in women. I will be interviewed on CNN for a whole thirty seconds. I need to boil down my message (a lot), without losing sympathetic appeal, or allowing the interview to stray from my message points, all while looking confident and relaxed.

John and Tim have coached persons who have appeared on  Oprah (last week!), The Today Show; CNN; in national media campaigns; at The White House; on Mars; and in the portal to John Malkovich's brain. They have worked with celebrity spokespersons; professional athletes; heads of state; the Mayo Clinic; WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease; the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation; the National Meningitis Foundation;  and  major arts organizations and universities.

They are coming soon to a bookshelf near you. 

And all this is really GREAT, but the thing that is REALLY great, is that John has an advanced degree in Performance Studies. You know, the major your parents BEGGED you not to declare. And with the organizational skills you learned in Speech 101 (along with a generous dose of ambition and charisma), John has built a career to rival that of any MBA. He is a walking, talking, working advocate of the arts and arts education. And next to me, he likes Tim best.


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