Monday, July 27, 2009

the HABIT project

Who's in Charge? ...You? ...Or Your Habits?

Original Live Theater & Documentary Film

Created by Actors 10 to 17 years old from Interviews they conducted with
Addicts, Behavioral Psychologists, Environmentalists, Philosophers, Martial Artists & many other Creatures of Habit.

The young actors portray the people they interviewed, word for word, drawing their portrayal from careful observation of their subject’s vocal rhythms and physical mannerisms.

Throughout the piece are stirring original songs and movement pieces performed by the cast.

A documentary film is being made of "the HABIT project" and will be entered into film festivals around the world.

Humanity is at that critical threshold where our "breakdown" or "breakthrough" depends on our ability to change our habits.


"I saw the performance last night with my daughter and husband and we were each deeply moved and impressed. What you have done here is big, really BIG. This performance breaks down barriers and halts judgments. It opens our minds and hearts to each other while showing how we each have the ability to change ourselves and our world for the better. I hope this show is ongoing and travels far.
Congratulations and thank you"
- Tanya Baccarat

Email excerpt from a staff person at THE MARY ISAAK CENTER to executive director of the Committee On The Shelterless JOHN RECORDS:

"This was an all-time spectacular event at MIC! We filled all of our chairs, so I expect the count was somewhere around 70-80 people. .... The members received it well and I think that the subject matter was maybe a little too close to home, but it was softened by the fact that 10-17 year olds were delivering the message. Lots of tears and applause."

"This is one of the most effective approaches to education I've ever seen."
- John Records,
Executive Director of the Committee On The Shelterless

The Habit Project turned out to be a serious, funny, enlightening and entertaining exploration of human nature. There are very few 'enrichment-type' programs that can provide this depth of experience and understanding. You helped to empower all of our children to make good choices and develop good habits. Thank you so much! It was a great experience and we look forward to future productions.
~ Theresa Quinlan
(Emily's mom)

"... a fantastic, smart, thought provoking new play performed by a cast all under the age of 18. Really great stuff! I can't wait for the documentary!"
-Robert Conard

"Frickin fantastic! I was trying to take notes during the show! It was really truly brilliant. They are making a documentary of the production and the entire process, so some day perhaps you can see that."
-Jessica Anderson Conard

"I can not stop thinking about last night's performance, just brillant! Congratulations on pulling off such a fantastic show!!"
-Siggie Phillips

"The Habit Project is brilliant theater! Engaging, funny, sad, thought-provoking--and that's just the script. The young actors are equally brilliant! A must-see for anyone who can get to a show."
-Barbara Shore

Someone saw our show at the SF Theater Festival and blogged about it...

"sunday i took Miles for some culture downtown, the sf free theater festival. we watched lots of adults entertaining kids--psychotic clowns, storytellers, physical comedy, pirates, jugglers. but what i loved where the kid entertainers. we saw our acquaintance isabel singing excerpts from the sound of music, an amazing grease with long-haired drummer and teenagers from the mission singing and dancing, but my favorite was a group called the habit project from petaluma. they were from about 10-17, all beautiful kids in white shirts and black pants, full of joy but somber, singing and playing guitar, very adult songs about being fucked up, being in love, making stupid decisions. while listening i didn't know what the theme was but knew it was deep and the kids were special. i was ready to sign miles up, even if he would be learning about drinking and bad relationships and adult stuff. somehow it all worked, it was beautiful."


Friday, June 26, 2009


  1. 55 year-old Recovering Addict - Vicki J
  2. Behavioral Psychologist - Dr. Linda Winter
  3. SSU Professor of Environmental Studies - Alexandra von Meier
  4. Martial Arts Master & Author of "The Leadership Dojo" - Richard Strozzi-Heckler
  5. SSU Professor (Teacher of Teachers - The Habit of Getting Smarter) - Georgia Leyden
  6. Executive Director of COTS (Committee on the Shelterless) - John Records
  7. Couples Therapists - Corisa & Sid Aaronson
  8. Internationally known Playwright, Soloist and Director - John O'Keefe
  9. UC Berkeley Behavioral Neuro-Scientist - Dr. Lucia Jacobs
  10. Homeless Recovering Addicts - Gwen & Nick
  11. Kaiser Permanente Health Educator (Tobacco Addiction) - Lynn Zimmerman
  12. Kaiser Permanente Dietitian - Melanie Larson
  13. Marin Business Coach - Audrey Seymour
  14. San Francisco Singer/Musician/Composer & Recovering Addict - Mark Growden
  15. Healdsburgh Mind/Body/Spirit Writer - Pamela Bell
  16. Healthy Habits Coach - Kathy Nichols
  17. Yoga Master - Jean Grant-Sutton
  18. Medical Director, Petaluma Health Center - Dr. Nurit Licht
  19. Marathon Runner - Mercedes Murolo
  20. Professional Dancer - Megan Watt
  21. Personal Trainer - Lynda Beth Unkless
  22. "Gifts of Aging" Group - Liz Stafford- age 73, PJ Swain - 70, Tille Cassidy - 70, and Marjorie Bair - 72.
  23. Ex-Convict, Alcoholic, Recovering Addict - Phil Parfitt
  24. Recovering Smokers - William Sleeth, Mark Nichols, Sharlyn Klein (and her supportive boyfriend- Joe "The Dood" Elwick)
  25. Teen Smoker - Conor McCullaugh
  26. Yes Man - John Crowley (Aqus Cafe)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reviews: The Petaluma River Anthology

Press Democrat
By Steve Gilford (Link to Review)

"...I wasn’t prepared to have one of my most moving theatrical experiences take place at a performance of young actors..."

"...What happens is a multi-layered theatrical experience. When a pair of teenagers take on the personas of 80-year-olds they have interviewed, what comes across is not only the wisdom of the older couple but the realization that the younger actors portraying them have been exposed to that perspective and have internalized it for this production.

You know they must have been changed by the experience and that this is a change they may not even be aware of for years to come. Sometimes, eight decades of experience speaking through a young adolescent is humorous; often it is moving. Several times during the production, I was aware that many in the audience had tears in their eyes."

Jane Hamilton
Former City Council Member, Executive Director at
Rebuilding Together Petaluma, & a member of the board of The Phoenix Theater.

"I was so blown away by the performance on Friday."

"You are a genius!"

"So many people contacted me to tell me how much they loved the performance, how important they felt it was in the consciousness of our town and how much they wish their friends could have seen it."

"It had so much heart and soul and really showed Petaluma as it is."

Eileen Morris
COTS (Committee on the Shelterless)

"I cannot stop thinking about your show. The kids were marvelous, and the way you wove it together was witty and touching. It was a real love letter to the town, the subjects and the kids. Congratulations."

John O'Keefe Interview

17 year old Scott Grove interviewed and will portray the brilliant and famous playwright John O'Keefe


The cast discusses the power of addiction

Cameras rolling... all is fodder for our live play and documentary film

A New Song for The HABIT Project

TEEN SMOKER Conor McCullaugh

Conor was interviewed by the cast and was asked to quit smoking

Conor answers questions and talks about his smoking habit.

Dezi Gallegos challenges Conor with his soon-to-be famous
"Rice & Cheese for Breakfast Forever" theory

Group hug.
Conor is loved and supported and free to smoke his little heart out


A documentary film is being made to submit to film festivals all over the world.

Student Cinematographer Jake Edwards
shoots the cast discussion about the power of addiction

Student Cinematographer Kian Crowley plans his next shot

11 year old Emma Mantoani interviewed & will portray 73 year old dancer and retired teacher Elizabeth Stafford about habitual thinking and habits for a fulfilling life


Creator & Director:
Brian Glenn Bryson
(Founder & Artistic Director of The WALKING ELEPHANT Theatre Company)

Assistant Director/Production Manager: Rebekah Rentzel

Music Director: Julie Lewis Assistant: Amy Hogan

Original Songs by Brian Glenn Bryson & Mark Nichols; Audrey Tatum, Hannah Hogan, & Chris Samson

Associate Producer: Seong Yun Brown

Student Cinematographers: Randall Brown, Molly Haas, Kian Crowley, & Jake Edwards

Choreographers: Michele Place & Elizabeth Stafford (NIA Dance), Jean Grant-Sutton (Yoga Master), Megan Watt (Professional Dancer and Choreographer), Jennifer Jaffe (Professional Dancer and Choreographer), and Hillary Bensky (Choreographer, recent graduate of SSU)

Special Thanks: David Brown, Andrew Martin, Al & Katie Haas, Karen Penley, John Crowley, Karyl Powers, Maureen Highland, and Bronwen Bryson

Monday, March 9, 2009



The Theater District
25 Petaluma Blvd South, Space D
DATES: July 10, 11 & 12
TIME: 8pm,

189 H St, Petaluma
DATES: July 14 & 15
TIME: 8pm

DATE: July 16
TIME: 2:30pm

Located in downtown Petaluma’s historic
Hill Opera House

201 Washington Street
DATES: July 17 & 18
TIME: 8pm

Songs from The Habit Project
DATE: July 13
TIME: 5:30-6pm


Committee On The Shelterless
Mary Isaak Center
DATE: Wednesday,
JULY 22nd
TIME: 7pm


3333 Petaluma Blvd. North
DATE: July 24 & 25
TIME: 8pm

Zeum Amphitheater

DATE: July 26
TIME: 3:20 pm
30 minute version

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Brian Glenn Bryson
Founder & Artistic Director

Photography by Rosemarie Lion/


Walking Elephant Theatre Company guides actors 7 to 17 years old out of the classroom and into real-world, project-based education experiences that connect them with their local and global communities to explore compelling social issues.

Cast members interview relevant community members about "the elephant in the room" -discrimination, bullying, homophobia, habits, special education - to create “word-for-word” documentary theatre and films.

These potent, moving, and hilarious plays and movies, made with integrity and economy, are then presented in theatres, schools, and film festivals around the world.

We do this because it is the most effective approach to education we have ever experienced, and because we believe it fosters a world of empathic human beings at peace with each other and themselves.