Thank You!

Lara Lynn Cottrill and Sarah Carleton 

Lara Lynn Cottrill and Sarah Carleton 

Marissa Knaub 

Marissa Knaub 

Last week we performed The Heart of Shahrazad in three locations in Pittsburgh, PA.  So many people helped make this happen and we are grateful and thankful for the outpouring of support from so many. 

We are working on gathering more pictures and video from the performances and will be sharing those as we work on putting them together in the weeks ahead. But for the moment - we want to again say Thank You.  

A special thanks to our families, to harpist - Marissa Knaub for her work, composer - Eliane Aberdam for creating beautiful music for us, and for Mansions on Fifth for hosting our opening performance. 

Thanks for joining us in this and for helping us put this work into the world. 

You can read a review of our Thursday evening performance here -

A Personal Story

It's been almost ten years, but I'll never forget.  I was a TA in graduate school and working in my office.  A student who was in my class knocked on my door.  She had a piece of paper in her hand and asked if she could talk to me.  I agreed.  

She told me she had brought her excuse for why she had missed class.  (We required all students to have a doctor's excuse for absences.)  And in her hand was an excuse from the ER.  She told me she had been raped and that was why she wasn't in class. 

I was speechless.  

What words fill that space.  

I stumbled through words and offerings of help.  

She left and and I sat in the heaviness and helplessness of not being able to do something. 

And then the student stopped coming to class.  I didn't see her.  Just another drop out.  

The story stayed with me. Heavy.  I was told by a well meaning person that I felt too deeply and needed to learn not to take everything on me.   And yet I was angry.  Angry that I couldn't do something.  Angry that I felt so helpless. Angry that I couldn't stop feeling so much.   

Violence towards women is a common story.  A story that fills the news, both in countries far from us and stories that we come across in our own lives.  

I sit here writing.  Knowing that that well meaning person in my life was right.  I do feel too deeply.  It's a strength and weakness I grapple with.  And I've often wondered what to do with this part of me that feels so intensely.   

I wrote The Heart of Shahrazad because my heart is heavy with the stories of violence towards women.  Because I wrestle to know what forgiveness means when I see the weight of violence on someone's body.  I wrestle with my own desire for revenge against those who create violence.  

The Heart of Shahrazad is a made up story.  A fairy tale.  But I have found fairy tales to be a place where wrestling happens.  Where good and evil come to fight.  A place where our own choices and stories are lifted up to the light and challenged.    

I wanted to tell Shahrazad's story,  because I want to step into the courage Shahrazad had.  The courage to tell stories.  Stories of light.  To step towards life rather than death.  I wanted a place to put all the intensity I feel.  And put it towards something that creates life rather than feeds the cycles of more violence. 

Thinking back to my student I don't know if I would have better words now.  But I'm learning the power of witness. Of listening.  Of being present.  Of allowing stories to help us see one another.  To find "On the other side of pain there is still love." Madelene L'Engle.

Creating, like helping others, is not easy.  There is no quick fix, easy plan to end violence.  It's messy and we make mistakes as we try to bring help.   

But I also know that I have a choice to do nothing or take the risk to do something. For me, The Heart of Shahrazad is my love letter to these women.  These women who have poured their stories into my life.  Who have allowed me to be witness.  Ordinary women who have shown me their vulnerability and in that their incredible strength.   

It is my hope that I can honor their stories.  And that I might walk the path of forgiveness and life.   And perhaps in some way, this part of me that feels too deeply can be used for good.  That I can mourn with those who mourn.  Not perfectly or neatly, as most mourning isn't.  But with the knowledge that we are not alone in our mourning.  And that we might honor those who walk alongside to heal. 

This is part of my story.  Part of the story that brings you The Heart of Shahrazad. I do hope you will come and bear witness with us as we tell this story.  - Sarah Carleton


Artists Festival 2015 - Thanks for Coming

Poster for the 2015 Artists Festival created by Lindsey Dietz

Poster for the 2015 Artists Festival created by Lindsey Dietz

We had a beautiful day on June 6th and are so thankful to the many people who helped out and made the Artists Festival possible.  

From 9:00AM-9:00PM we had artists sharing their work and community members coming alongside to celebrate the arts. 

We want to thank all our Artists who came and shared their work and helped celebrate with us. 

And we want to especially thank these folks for their help (and if we've forgotten anyone we apologize):

Dave Breit and Jeff Ankey - without their work and expertise we wouldn't have a sound system for our artists. 

Mr. and Mrs. Cottrill, Candy Carleton, Genavieve Coleman, Lindsey Dietz, Doug McGill, Maria Wheeler, and Jackie Rose.

You can find pictures across our social media - Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook from the day.  

Summer Adventures

Our favorite time of the Year is approaching!  

Not only do we love Summer at Amiche, but we can't wait to share all the work we've been busily doing through the long winter months. 

June 6th kicks off our first Summer event.  The Second Artists Festival, which will be held in Beaver, Pa.  We often discuss building bridges and creating connections and this event is all about connecting.  We have activities for all ages, performances from a variety of genres, and art for sale from local artists.  Don't miss this event from 9:00AM-9:00PM on June 6th. Check out the Schedule and Artists Coming - Artists Festival 2015 

At the Artists Festival you can also get a preview glimpse of, The Heart of Shahrazad, our next show coming August 2015 to Pittsburgh, PA on August 13, 14, and 15th.  The Heart of Shahrazad is an original piece written by Sarah Carleton with music composed by Eliane Aberdam and will be performed by Lara Lynn Cottrill - Soprano, Sarah Carleton - Actress, and Marissa Knaub - Harpist.  A story exploring the character of Shahrazad from The Arabian Nights, this is a performance about the power of stories to help us find healing and hope in the midst of violence.  This is a chance to see this original and powerful piece before it's world premier in August. 

We hope to see you this Summer! It's going to be a grand celebration of what Amiche is about - creating friendships and creating together. Join us as we share our passions with the world.  


What's in a Name?

We are getting close to our 3rd Birthday on May 1st.  As we've worked together at Amiche our motto has often been, "And though she be but little, she is fierce."  William Shakespeare.  We are a little company made up two people who have big dreams. And we are stubbornly persistent. Because creating means you face a lot of 'no'.  But the 'no' responses bring out the fierceness in us and we keep digging in and moving forward.   

Starting a company is lots of work.  On our YouTube channel you can follow many of our discussions of things we are learning and have learned as we wade into the business of being performers.  Amiche Artists on YouTube

There are many voices that will say that art is loosing ground.  That it doesn't create money and value.  We called our company Amiche, which is an Italian word meaning women friends for a reason.  1. We love learning about other cultures and Lara is an opera singer and sings in other languages on a regular basis.  2.  We believe that art can be a bridge.  That art can connect people across cultures and backgrounds.  

And if we can bring together the world of opera and acting, think of the ways we can find and build connections in other areas of the world and life.  

This summer we are fiercely working on our dream of creating and building connections.   

There are two big events we are planning this Summer. 

1.  The Artists Festival.  The Artists Festival is our way of reaching out and providing a space for  artists to share their work with the community of Beaver in PA.  The day will be filled with performers sharing their work as well as vendors and artists selling their work.  And there will be activities for children and adults to participate and create work themselves.  To learn more about this day and how you can connect with artists and the community click on Artists Festival.  There are still spots available for artists who have work to sell and you can sign up here - Artists Festival Sign up

2. The Heart of Shahrazad.  This piece is our first original work written by Sarah Carleton with music composed by Eliane Aberdam and will be performed by Lara Lynn Cottrill, Sarah Carleton, and Marissa Knaub.  The heart of this story is about one woman's journey through a world filled with violence.  And the choices she makes in how to face this violence.  Knowing that we live in a world that is filled with violence and violence that women especially bear the brunt of, we are connecting with community members for the performances to share ways in which we can all be a voice in ending the violence that so many women face in our world.  You can purchase tickets for these performances happening in August here - Tickets.  You can also get a sneak peak at the show and music on May 3rd in Beaver, PA at a concert celebrating women composers - Women Composers Concert. The concert is free due to the generous support of the Jubilation Concert Series. You can also help this work come to life by donating here.  Donations  

We have been spending months and months planning and preparing for this coming summer and we can't wait to share it with you and connect with you.  

Our name is about friends.  About reminding the world that art can bring us together.  That sharing our stories and work can be a way of reminding one another that we are not alone.  We hope that you will join us for a summer of connections.  

Amiche:  Italian (noun) women friends.    

Amiche emerged from a friendship and mutual love of creating.   It is through this merging of two fields, opera and acting, that we have learned the beauty of bringing together unexpected connections, both in art and friendship.  It is our hope that through our work others will be inspired to share their passions with the world and create unexpected connections.  -  Lara and Sarah 

Preview for "The Heart of Shahrazad"

On May 3rd the Jubilation Concert Series is presenting a performance celebrating Women Composers.  And we are excited that for the first time some of the music from our up-coming performance of "The Heart of Shahrazad" will be performed.  This is the first time an audience will catch a glimpse of our August premier.  Come hear beautiful music performed by Lara Lynn Cottrill, Marie Libal-Smith and Marissa Knaub.   The event is free and open to the public.  

Marching Along

Creating, when you are in the midst of the process, can feel like a giant checklist.  A million and one things to get in line before the final piece comes together.  Yet, in the midst of the checklist there can be moments when you step back and realize that it's becoming more than a list, something is emerging.  A piece of art.  

Recently, we've had some moments that have made us stop and realize that all the dreaming and planning is starting to come together.  

Heather Carleton Greco and Doug McGill created a poster for us.  And if you look closely you can see words intertwined in the heart.  These words represent some of the themes and ideas that will be explored in the performance.  

There is something about this image that makes the performance so very real for us.  

As we work towards these three performances in August we are striving to create three unique experiences that touch on some of the different aspects of this show.  We are working with amazing venues and so grateful for the incredible support we've had from these three venues. 

Eliane is finishing up the music and on March 27th the performers will meet for the first time to go over the show and take the first steps towards rehearsing the show.   

The list is still long but our vision for this piece is beginning to emerge into something living and breathing.  As we get closer to the performances we will be sharing more details about tickets and the specifics of each performance.  

Poster by Lindsey Dietz

Poster by Lindsey Dietz

Our Second Annual Artists Festival is in the works as well and we are excited by the artists joining us this year.  There will be some great activities for kids and adults alike.  There is still time to sign up if you are an interested Artist.  The early registration fee ends on April 1st so be sure to take advantage of that.  Register for the  Second Annual Artists Festival 

Thanks for walking with us on this creative journey.  We are eager to share with you this summer! 

Staying Warm - Keeping the Creativity Going

It's been especially cold where we live and we find ourselves longing for our favorite season and time of the year - Summer!  In the waiting and longing for warm weather we are busy with lots of plans and preparation to help 2015 be an amazing Summer for Amiche. 

At this point we have two of our three venues ready for our August Performance of, "The Heart of Shahrazad".  We had an exciting adventure of looking for venues and we were incredibly fortunate to have two of the venues confirmed right away.  You can find out more about our venue hunting day in our short video.  We can't wait to share this performance in these venues and the unique ways each location will help the story come to life. 

We've also been contacting artists for our Second Annual Artists Festival to be held on June 6th in Beaver, PA.  If you are an artist or know of Artists who might be interested - we would love to create a great explosion of art and creativity in the community.  So we hope you will join us.  To find out more go to Artists Sign-Up

Preparing for an event or new performance can feel a lot like this image.  You spend hours, days, weeks, and months preparing and the show may last a few days and the audience may only see the top of the iceberg.  But the creativity and process is what keeps us going.  We love performing.  But we also find joy in the process of creating - the dreaming, building, rehearsing, and process of putting art into the world. And in these long cold days it helps keep us warm as we wait with great expectation for our performances and Festival.  



Jumping into 2015

This week has been a busy time at Amiche.  We spent several days hiding away to focus on planning and dreaming about this coming year and what we hope to create.  

One thing we certainly agree on at Amiche is, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."  - J. R. R. Tolkien

So we are stepping forward into the New Year with some grand ideas/dreams and plans.  We don't know all of what will happen along the way but we know that any good adventure is a bit scary to undertake. 

Three things to highlight for 2015. 

1.You can now subscribe to an email list from us where you can get up-dates and news straight to your email.  Just fill out the form below.  

2. We are looking for Artists for our 2015 Artists Festival! It's going to be grand explosion of art! Sign up HERE. 

3. We will be premiering a new work on August 13, 14, and 15th in Pittsburgh, PA (venues to be announced).  The Heart of Shahrazad, is an original piece written by Sarah Carleton with music composed by Eliane Aberdam.  We hope to see you there! 

 We want 2015 to be a year of connections.  Of connecting art to communities.  Of connecting artists with other artists.  Of connecting stories with a call to action and healing in the face of violence in our world.  

Are hearts of full of dreams for the year.  So we are stepping forward into the great unknown of 2015 knowing that we will come away changed.  But that's what an adventure is all about.  We hope that you will join us.  Let's create and live out stories full of beauty and life in 2015.  

The Little Things

The Holidays can bring a mix of beautiful moments and for some hard memories or times.  The depth of emotions we can experience, tremendous joy in the world and deep sorrow, can feel overwhelming.   

Patsy Rodenburg is a vocal coach who writes about the power of being present.  As performers we often reflect on the practice of being present.  Watching a performance with someone who is fully on stage brings a wholeness of life to the story.  

As we work on our projects and think about the stories we are working to tell, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the feelings of life.  There is a great deal of pain in the world.  Much that is wrong.  And perhaps you have experienced it.  Or have seen others in your life suffering.  

But we know that small things matter.  Simple things make a difference.  And the simple yet challenging act of being present with those in your world is one we are working towards.  We want to take the steps to be more present in our creative processes.   Striving to provide a safe place for people to grow, for our company to thrive, and for others to experience life and storytelling.  

Maybe the best gift we can give each other this season is learning to be present in each others lives.  To do the work that is before us and be a safe place for others to experience being present.  As you enter the Christmas season we hope that you find people to be present with.  And performances and art that pulls you into being more fully present in the world and your life.   

"Two human beings present together experience intimacy and knowledge of one another; each person understand something of the other's story and, consequently, their humanity.  This humanity can be experienced in a touch, the breath, the voice-but it is immediately felt and seen through the eyes: the windows of the soul." - Patsy Rodenburg, "The Second Circle" 

Plans and Thanks


As we enter the Holiday Season we pause to reflect on what we are thankful for as we strive to create. 

Lately at Amiche our work has been filled with behind the scenes planning and working.  Not a lot of glamorous stuff.  But all the pieces that are needed to create a new performance piece and continue to create art. 

We've had the opportunity to listen to early pieces of Eliane Aberdam's  work for "The Heart of Shahrazad" and we can hardly wait to share her work with you!  Seeing our work come to life through music is all kinds of exciting and we are grateful to collaborate with Elaine.  Sarah also had the chance to read several of the monologues from the script with some local artists and it was a great opportunity to share pieces of this story for the first time. 

Much of our work for "The Heart of Shahrazad" of late is logistical pieces.  Working on finding venues to perform in and continuing to look for grants to help with producing this piece.  We are also working to connect with various community members to bring this piece into larger conversations about violence towards women and what we can do in response.   As we build resources and information we encourage you to check out the work of others on this topic and the ways we can all take small but significant steps to address issues of violence towards women.  Resource Page for "The Heart of Shahrazad" 

And though we are starting to feel the cold here in Western, PA we are dreaming about spring and warm weather and our second Artists Festival which will be held on June 6th, 2015.  If you are an artist or know artists we are looking for creatives who are interested in joining us and sharing their work.  It's not too early to start planning and you can find more about the Festival and see pictures from last year on our web site - Artists Festival 2014. 

As we take time to pause and reflect - we are grateful for the support and encouragement we continue to receive as people walk alongside us as we create and work to tell stories filled with our passion for the world and performance.  You can follow various parts of our journey on the web through our YouTube Channel, Twitter and Facebook and our Web Site.  Thanks for walking with us!  We are thankful for you! 

A Thousand Steps

The journey of putting up a new performance is not a sprint, it's more like a marathon.  There are many steps that are taken, and the biggest lesson we have to keep reminding ourselves is to preserver. To press on even when you don't think you can take that next step. 

We have been so grateful for the many people who have come alongside us during this marathon.  Some cheering for short sections, others walking with us through the whole of this journey.  People have helped in so many ways, financially, with encouraging words, time, resources, places to stay, meals and the list goes on.  

This is a journey that we know we can't do alone and we want to today especially thank the folks who walked with us during our Kickstarter campaign.  Because of these amazing folks our campaign was not only successful but went beyond our hoped for goal.   

We are deeply encouraged by this as we continue. 

Many of these steps we are taking are not exciting moments.  We spend a lot of time in front of computers - writing, researching, emailing.  But we know that all these little steps are helping us tell a story we are passionate about.  

Mahatma Gandhi said that, "In a gentle way you can shake the world"  We are hoping that this piece does just that.  That this story gently touches us and helps us move forward to shake the world and instead of stories of violence we can tell stories of healing. 

Thanks for walking with us in this journey!  You can read more about this project and see the resources we are beginning to collect HERE. 

Summer Reflections

The summer is coming to a close and we have had some lovely adventures at Amiche.  It is exciting to look back and see the opportunities we have had and some of the plans and dreams we have for the coming year.   We are excited about the new connections we've made with people and look forward to the new dreams and ideas that Amiche will be tackling.  

One of our big excitements for the fall is the opportunity we have to go to a conference for creatives called Storychicago.  We are so thankful for this opportunity and are looking forward to learning and exploring what others are doing in the world.  

But for the moment we are stopping to reflect on some of the adventures of this past summer and work that we were able to be a part of...


"Stay" is a song written by Lara Lynn Cottrill that was first heard and performed in our Song of Songs piece.  This summer we put a little video together of just the song with some movement. 



YouTube Channel on "The Business" - This summer we started our weekly discussion of "the business" side of being a performer and artists.  You can join us as we discuss things we have learned and are learning about running your own business as an artist.   

Summer Extravaganza - It was great to share our show Shakespeare's Women with the Carnegie Library Summer Reading Extravaganza and to promote the library and reading and learning!  

Artists Festival - In June we hosted an Artists Festival in Beaver, PA.  We are thankful for all the artists who joined us in this adventure and for helping us build connections between the community and artists. 

New Show!  - The Heart of Shahrazad.  And we have been busy working on a new show for Amiche.  The first draft has been sent to the composer and we are looking forward to sharing this new piece with audiences!  You can stay updated on the piece here: The Heart of Shahrazad 


Our mission at Amiche has been to dream big and just do things.  It's a little messy at times, but we have been so excited to see what happens when you just go for things.  

For this coming year our next big project is putting together a new show based on Shahrazad and the Thousand and One Nights.  After getting two shows up in our first year we are excited to see all the things we've learned helping us grow and expand as we approach this next project. 

We are currently in the development stages - with Sarah writing and putting together the main script - as our first step.  Along with some great brainstorming sessions where we dream of pretty sets and how to tell stories.  And soon we will be talking with the composer and working to bring the music to life!  

We are dreaming big with this piece, as we've done with our others.  The plan is to have the performance ready for audiences in 2015, and we'll be sure to keep everyone posted as to the progress and where we will be sharing our new venture with you! 

It's such an exciting place to be creating work that inspires us and gives us the opportunity to grow as artists.  

And we are grateful for all those who have come out to support our first two shows and hope that you will enjoy this next one as well!  


The 2014 Artists Festival in Review

Our first Artists Festival is over!  And we have so many people to thank!  

We had two beautiful days of weather and we are so grateful for all the folks who came to Beaver and took part in the festivities. 

A special thanks to the town of Beaver and our sponsors: Cottrill Arbutina Accounting Firm, Courtney-Laughlin Frame Studio and Gallery, Dave Breit for bringing the sound system.  Also a huge thanks to interns and all the other folks who gave a hand to help make things run smoothly.  And finally, a huge thanks to the artists who came out and shared in the adventure with us.   

As artists one of the aspects that we like to weave into our creating is connecting. And we were so delighted to see the diverse groups of people coming together over the two days to share in celebrating the arts.  

You can look at some of the artists who came to our event as well as some pictures of our time there in the following link:  2014 Artists Festival 

Thanks again for celebrating the arts with us!  It was a great two days!  


Counting Down the Days to the Artists Festival

Last August we performed Shakespeare's Women in the park in Beaver.  And as we looked back on that time we began to dream about possibilities.  As often is the case, long car rides gave us time to come up with the outline of the Artists Festival.  

We know that there are lots of festival that people can go to.  What we want this festival to be about is artists.  We hope to celebrate the work of artists and provide the community a chance to participate in creating art as well. 

Our Artists Festival is just a week away and we are busily getting the final touches ready for you to come explore the arts with us.    

You can visit our web site for some of the lists of performers and activities that will be held during the two days.  Artists Festival Schedule 

There will be a great variety of styles and kinds of art and art for all ages to participate in as well.  

If it rains we will be hosting events at the Cottrill Arbutina Accounting Firm Conference Center.  

We are looking forward to performing again in the park this summer and performing among other artists.  

The work we have done as Amiche has come from friendship and a passion for the arts and we hope that you can join with us in celebrating the arts and community next week. 




Our production of Song of Songs was a journey for us.  A beautiful journey.  The poetry is raw and vulnerable.  And we were thankful we could put so much of what we love into the piece.  One of the beautiful parts of the journey was being able to put a song that Lara wrote into our performance.   We are working to get the song on-line so it will be available for purchase.  Until that time, here is a short video featuring the song, "Stay", written and sung by Lara Lynn Cottrill. 

Catch all the Creating happening this Month

June is a busy month at Amiche and we are looking forward to some great events.  On the 8th we will be performing at the  Carnegie Summer Reading Extravaganza   and on June 27-28th we will be hosting the   Artists Festival in Beaver, PA    

In the midst of this summer one of the things we want to do is encourage you.  We love encouraging creatives!  And we'd love to hear about your work this summer!  You can join us at the Artists Festival, as an artist, or come visit us and the other artists who will be creating.  Or connect with us on-line on our Facebook Page, Twitter, or YouTube Channel and let us know what you are working on. 

We understand the ups and downs of trying to make art and we know how much encouragement means to us in this process so we hope that we can encourage you as you work on things this summer.  

Here's to the start of a creative and art filled summer!