WARRENVILLE – Just in time for New Year’s resolutions to undertake a beneficial self-assessment, a heartfelt and affirming entertainment avenue opens with a solo, autobiographical theatrical performance written and performed by Theresa Puskar in Warrenville. Her show earned rave reviews in New York and Los Angeles.
The creative Westmont resident is a published author, actor, motivational speaker, teacher, costume maker and producer – all aimed at helping people find an inner peace and sense of empowerment.
Puskar’s solo show, “Causeless Joy,” grew out of personal discontent with herself and motherhood overload, prompting a monthlong sojourn to southern India to attend the Oneness University that an acquaintance had recommended.
“Six years ago, I went to India to try to find inner peace,” she said, noting she focused on meditation and prayer. “The show is about my integration of that experience and meeting with fairy-tale princesses in my meditation. They are realizing that they are victims of their own baloney. [They use] very tough love, whipping me into shape.”
Puskar, who slips in and out of 14 characters, describes the revelations of her princesses.
Rapunzel admits she put herself in the tower. Cinderella was at home in her obsessive-compulsive cleaning role. And the protagonist of “The Princess and the Pea” was oh so sensitive. Belle, described as an Irish hedonist, accepts her weight issues, and asks Puskar: “Do you love yourself? Look in the mirror.”
“I don’t leave the show with an answer,” Puskar said. “I go to work on this. Therein lies the connection with the audience members. … I think there’s something healing in seeing themselves up on that stage, in knowing they are not alone.”
She said a lot of men who have seen the hourlong production recognize themselves in the stories, which involve both tears and laughter as she candidly shares her life’s challenges during the spiritual travelogue.
“I’m not afraid to share my deepest and darkest with the audience,” she said. “We laugh a lot and we cry a lot. [It’s] about self-love and self-acceptance. I do a workshop [involving] women and mirrors. Can we see the soul that is looking back at us? Especially as we age – [the] lines and wrinkles and physical attributes.”
The Canadian-born Puskar said she had the good fortune to receive acting training while at a university in Canada, then graduate studies at Yale, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and Oxford, where she studied with Jeremy Irons and Vanessa Redgrave, whom she calls incredible teachers.
Her time in India was indeed a life-changing opportunity for Puskar, who calls it a powerful experience as she journeyed through the culture.
In praising her writing and acting, a New York Times reviewer of “Causeless Joy” noted how much Puskar respects other cultures in her performance.
“Part of the journey … seeing the poverty after a month of being contemplative and inside myself, I saw really differently,” Puskar said, citing Mother Teresa’s comment about the people of India having very little money but deep spiritual connections.
“I came to that realization of my own accord,” she said. “I saw the same poverty and same squalor, but I saw it through different eyes. Doing morning walks, [I saw] a little girl on a rooftop who said, ‘namaste.’ She was full of light and love. That was pivotal for me.”
Puskar looks forward to performing “Causeless Joy” on weekends between now and Feb. 1 in Warrenville. In February, she has been invited to be part of a select group of performers at the SaraSolo Winter Fest in Sarasota, Florida.
Two of her latest books will be released in 2020. They are “8 Ways to De-clutter Your Brain,” on how the mind plays games with people, coming out in March. It’s ready for pre-sale at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com. “The Good Morning Mind: Nine Essential Habits for the Workplace” covers mindfulness in business and comes out in June. She’s currently working on the audio version.
In addition to writing for Conscious Community magazine, she developed a program for preschoolers – Power Princesses and Superheroes. It’s about emotional intelligence taught in a fun way with games, themes and costumes she sews.
“Princesses are not victims, and superheroes do not use aggression and violence to help the world,” she said, calling it recontextualizing with children as she promotes using one’s mind and open heart. It’s part of her Edu-Tainment Productions.
To learn more about Puskar’s projects and her path to finding “Causeless Joy,” visit theresapuskar.com.
If you go
WHAT: “Causeless Joy’
WHERE: Trinity Lutheran Church, 3S460 Curtis Ave., Warrenville
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays now through Feb. 1; followed by Q&A
COST: $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors