Amy Oesterreicher in residence Dec. 17-23


PASSAGEWAYS: Songs of Connections, Abnormal and Sublime 

An original song cycle with text and artwork projections, all created by the performer. Music, humor and art, interwoven with autobiographical narrative, as the creativity of the artist becomes an unexpected passageway through profound crisis.  On passageways, there’s no way in, no way out, only through. So why not laugh, dance and paint our way towards the light?

Title: Passageways

This performance involves oral histories conducted and transcribed with actual transplant surgeons, patients, caregivers, and those affected by intestinal fistulas, combined with Tectonic Theater-inspired momentwork.  It also involves mixed media artwork, prose, poetry, and original music, all created by Amy.



DescripAmy2tion: Passageways is a multidisciplinary musical based on a “fistula” – an abnormal communication between organs that evolves from a surgery or sudden interference. The musical explores the physical and emotional repairs accompanying the path to recovery from a decade of the playwright’s autobiographical trauma, including sexual abuse by a trusted mentor, rapidly succeeded by a gastrectomy, coma, organ failure, six years unable to eat or drink, 28 reconstructive surgeries and the long-winded journey of PTSD that follows. This mixed media narrative explores trauma through the archetypal hero’s journey, incorporating live-painting, movement, and original music while illustrated by mixed-media art, and visual media. The story follows the exploration of a woman redefining “home” after trauma. She recreates herself through the discovery of the arts and is able to reclaim her voice and rejoin her community.  We start in the present, Amy having just been discharged from a final surgery which has created a medical “fistula” – an abnormal “communication” between two organs.   This most recent medical intervention which has promised to finally reconstruct her digestive organs, has instead, created a further setback.  As Amy starts a single sketch of a tree, she is overcome with a past that is too overwhelming for words.  Creativity provides a safe container to explore a past world which she once felt part of – a world of pleasure, pain, nature, trust, and betrayal. What tunnels of discovery will this “abnormal passageway” lead Amy through? Passageways is a literally “work in progress” continuously created for the audience with a paintbrush, music and projections.




Our story begins with Amy alone on stage surrounded by artwork and supplies from the hospital. Afraid of the outside world and surrounded by voices of doubt, she is thrust from a place she has come to call home for the past few months and thrust back into a world that feels unfamiliar and much scarier than before. In seclusion, Amy retreats into the world of her imagination and uses her art as a way to communicate with the outside world. Determined to share her work with the community, Amy challenges her fears and mounts an art show. She is able to not only cope, but thrive as she puts the events of her life on display for her community.

Passageways utilizes music, spoken word, performance and projection. Everything in Amy’s isolated world is utilitarian and transformative. Creativity provides a safe container for her to explore her emotions and start to form ways for her to deal with the traumas of the past.

 Her world is ever-changing and its form is constantly shifting through the use of projection, art, and 12 original songs. Amy will be painting live on stage and we will be using painting not only in a practical sense but also deeply rooted in metaphor. This constant transformation of adversity to creativity will be present throughout all elements of the performance, from the musical score to her shifts in creating.

Disciplines: Performance, Music, Movement, Theatre, Live Artmaking, Oral Histories, Devised Theatre


Amy Oestreicher (playwright) is an Audie award-nominated playwright, performer, and multidisciplinary creator. A singer, librettist, and visual mixed media artist, she dedicates[JC1]  her work to celebrating everyday miracles, untold stories, and the detours in life that can spark connection and transform communities. As a PTSD specialist, artist, author, writer for The Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, and health advocate, Amy has headlined international conferences on leadership, mental health, disability, creativity, and domestic violence prevention. She is a SheSource Expert, a “Top Mental Health” writer for Medium, and a regular lifestyle, wellness, and arts contributor for over 70 online and print publications. Her story has appeared on NBC’s Today, CBS, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen Magazine, The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, and MSNBC, among others. Amy has written, directed, and starred in her autobiographical musical, Gutless & Grateful, which has toured over 200 venues from 54 Below to Barrington Stage Company since its 2012 NYC debut. Gutless & Grateful has won seven national awards (including The Singular Award for an innovative original performance), is listed as part of the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military, and is currently being licensed to students across the country for academic projects and competitions. Her plays have been published by Eddy Theatre Company, PerformerStuff, Narcissists Anthology, New World Theatre’s “Solitary Voice: A Collection of Epic Monologues,” and were finalists in Manhattan Repertory’s Short Play Festival, NYNW Theatre Fest, #MeTooTheatreWomen, “Women in the Age of Trump,” and Tennessee Williams’s New Orleans Literary Festival. Amy has delivered three TEDx talks on theatre’s ability to transform trauma, and trained with Primary Stages, Fiasco Theatre, and Tectonic Theatre Project in their Moment Work Institute’s Teacher Training Program. She was recently selected to work with Moises Kaufman on the full-length drama Leftovers, exploring the impact of trauma on communities and the gifts that can be reaped. Her play Factory Treasure is the one-act winner of Central PA Theatre & Dance Fest. Her play Fibers, compiled of oral histories transcribed from three generations of survivors, premiered at Museum of Jewish Heritage this year. Her short play, We Re-Member, inspired by her grandparents’ sewing corporation and legacy as Holocaust survivors, has been featured in immigration and cultural festivals in six states. Her original songs are published with PerformerStuff and have been featured in Singer/Songwriter Showcases in New York (including the Duplex, and 54 Below), Colorado, and Massachusetts. Amy participated as a playwright and performance artist in the National Musical Theatre Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, where she helped develop the multimedia ensemble piece Born of Myth (2016), and was a writer, actress, composer, and set designer for Playwrights and Librettists, a festival of 27 thirty-minute plays in five days. Her full-length drama Imprints, exploring the physical and psychological impact of trauma, premiered at the Producer’s Club in 2016, and is currently in development for a full New York production as Flicker and a Firestarter with Playlight Theatre Company.  “Resilience and the Power of the Human Spirit,” Amy’s collaboration with Beechwood Arts on the immersion salon, has toured the world as a public installation, incorporating her monologues, art, writing, and recipes to express the life-altering detours and invaluable gifts of her resilient journey. As an active member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, League for Advancement of New England Storytellers, Dramatists Guild, Fairfield County Cultural Alliance, International Center for Women Playwrights, International Women’s Art Salon, Theatre Artist Workshop, and several art guilds throughout Connecticut and New York, Amy is an Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor Professionals Scholar, and the first annual SHERocks Herstory National Performing Artist Honoree. 

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