My name is Brenda Adelman and I am an actor, playwright and a transformational life coach. I consider myself a healer. I grew up in Brooklyn amongst mobsters and religious Jews. I started professionally acting in Europe after college and when my life was blown apart by my mother’s murder by my father and his subsequent marriage to my mother’s sister. I found the road to healing through writing my show, going back to school for a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology and through the practice of forgiveness. I’ve been fortunate to teach forgiveness and I’ve had the honor to receive a Hero of Forgiveness award from the Hawaii International Forgiveness Project. I’m married and in the best relationship of my life for 13 years. We have a son who used to be a foster child. I get to travel internationally with my one-woman show and I recently started mentoring creative types on creating their own one-person shows.
My Brooklyn Hamlet: A Meshugenah True Story grew out of a 30 minute storytelling exercise in an acting class I was taking three years after my mother’s death. The assignment was to be authentic on stage. I hadn’t been because I had been so swallowed up by my grief and shame. I decided to write one of my poems into a scene and then expanded it into a mini show without the intention of having it ever be a show. But not only was I surprised by the standing ovation from the 100 person class but I learned that my honesty was incredibly healing for others too. My Brooklyn Hamlet is based on my life story. It’s raw and dark and intense and funny with a twist of Shakespeare. It comes from Truth and I believe that is what connected with the class and with everyone ever since. It heals others by allowing audience members to feel all their emotions, forgive their judgments and open their hearts. It’s about family, love, loss, vengeance, and the sweetness and strength of forgiveness.
The very first professional production of My Brooklyn Hamlet was produced in Los Angeles before I had went back to school to get my degree in Psychology. During my master’s program I learned what a healthy boundary was for the first time in my life. Because I wasn’t healed yet I would perform the show and my audiences would be moved to laughter and tears but I would feel terrible at the end of the night. I’d go home to my lonely apartment and be depressed. At that time I was still in an on again off again relationship with my father. That was a huge challenge for me. Luckily a friend recommended The University of Santa Monica and I enrolled in the two-year program and I have never looked back. It changed my life for the better. I worked out my inner demons (rage/anger/being uncentered and unconscious of the patterns that were running me) so that I didn’t have to work it out on stage. The success is that when I took up the show again a few years later I rewrote the ending with my new sense of awareness and self-love and the show felt like a gift to me and for the audience. It’s an incredible way for me to express myself creatively, get to travel the world and make money doing what I love at the same time that I am helping change people’s lives for the better.
I’d say one of my biggest successes with the show was when my brother invited me to perform My Brooklyn Hamlet in Vienna, Austria a couple of years ago. He was then running The Jewish Theatre of Austria and was hosting a huge Jewish Theatre Festival and Conference (the 1st of its kind since WWII). The thing is–my brother and I had been estranged for six years right after our mom died because it was my father who had murdered our mother. My father was his step-father. I wasn’t ready to go after my father legally at first. We stopped talking. We then reconciled six years before the invitation to perform at his festival but we had never spoken about anything. Obviously we both did the inner work we needed to do to come together but still we didn’t talk anything through. Then he invited me to do the show at his theatre. He had his son (my young nephew) in the audience. My brother and I did the Q and A together on the stage after the show. It was a pure moment of art and life coming together for incredible entertainment and healing. I’ve been paid more, I’ve performed my show in London and NYC, for women prisoners and for the United States Air Force, but I would say I call this experience the most successful.