Curtain Call: the last Fear Experiment℠ Chicago


What started with an email to about fifty friends in 2009 proposing a crazy idea that would help me live out my dream of being Mimi from RENT, though I lack all Broadway Star skills, has come to an end. The crazy idea? As a way to meet others, challenge ourselves, and be a rockstar, let’s sign up solo to do something we’re not great at and that causes us fear, rehearse for a few months, and then perform in front of an audience!

After six years, Fear Experiment℠ (FE) Chicago is over. You can read why here.

Perhaps sadness will come later. I’ve had a sadness spurt here and there but mostly the emotions have been gratefulness for the journey, relief that my task list has shrunk from hundreds to a handful, and excitement for the unknown.

What’s next? (shrug) 

  • Life of Yes℠ Facilitation (workplace, family reunions, camp…)
  • voiceover work
  • writing my book (and obviously, subsequent book tour — there is nothing more I want in life at this moment than to sit at a folding table in Brookline Booksmith signing the inside of The Poor-Rich, Fat-Skinny, Ugly-Pretty, White-Black, Quiet-Loud Jew-Non-Jew Who’s Just Like You while I thank people for coming, listening to my reading, and buying my NYT Bestseller before I fly to Philly to be on Fresh Air with Terry Gross)
    • You’d read this, right?!
      • “A book about how a sad abnormal girl grew up to be a blissful abnormal woman as she learned to embrace her literal and figurative stretch marks. Saya’s everydayness, transparency, and nonchalance at embarrassment make for a witty and inspiring reflection that’ll have you murmuring throughout, “Me too!,” even though you couldn’t be more different. Bonus: Saya weaves in business acumen gleaned from her twelve years of accidental and successful entrepreneurialism which started with the words “I need you to pack your stuff and go.”
      • You can get on the Sayabook e-list here or offer me a book deal here
  • speaking engagements
  • teaching (storytelling, travel hacking, productivity, how to live a blissful life, personal finance…)
  • more collaboration with Best Friend
  • a gaggle of ABC and XYZ — who knows where life will take me?! I’m not too stressed in ‘figuring it out’ as pieces always seems to fall into place…

In the meantime, Goodnight, sweet FE Baby!

I look forward to your Aunties and Uncles taking the reins and growing you in their areas of the world (Interested in being an FE Auntie/Uncle, er Producer, wherever you live? Head here). I cannot wait to attend an FE as a plain ol’ audience member. 

I had a blast being a dancer, improviser, stepper, and storyteller. With this last show, I even got to be a singer (the FE Alum sang RENT’s Seasons of Love; I wonder whose idea that was).

As a producer, I enjoyed using my superpowers of organization, management, marketing, troubleshooting, frugality, and getting others to believe in themselves to create an Adult Recital like you’ve never before witnessed.

Thanks for the ride, FE! Onwards and upwards.

Fear Experiment℠ Chicago by the numbers

  • January 2010 – November 2016
  • 355 participants
  • 50 Do Good participants (people from under-served communities, e.g. high-poverty schools, employment programs, and homeless organizations, and the terminally-ill)
  • 8 instructors
  • 5 art-forms (storytelling, dance, stepping, a capella, and improv)
  • 6741 audience members

Fear Experiment℠ Eleven (FE11) At A Glance

They are ages 21 – 56. They are married, single, dating, and divorced. They are only children and they have more than six siblings. They are extroverted and introverted.

They live in…

  • Chicagoland
  • Indiana
  • Milwaukee

They were born in…

  • Chicagoland
  • Maryland
  • Nebraska
  • Kansas
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Connecticut
  • Michigan
  • Florida
  • Oklahoma
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • California
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Israel
  • England
  • Sri Lanka

Their jobs range from…

  • Physician
  • Cab Driver
  • Architect
  • Career Coach
  • Health Coach
  • Educator
  • Student
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Real Estate
  • Pediatric Occupational Therapist
  • Software Engineer 
  • Environmentalist
  • Veterinarian
  • Mother

They are…

  • Methodist
  • Buddhist
  • Christian
  • Christian in the process of being baptized Catholic
  • Catholic
  • Agnostic
  • Atheist
  • Spiritual
  • Muslim
  • Hindu
  • Jewish
  • Un-affiliated

They would love to get a cup of coffee with…

  • Prince
  • The Dalai Lama
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Maya Angelou
  • David Blaine
  • Someone selling a villa in Italy, who wants to train her in how to run said villa
  • Josephine Baker
  • Warren Buffet
  • Brene Brown
  • Barack Obama
  • Michelle Obama 
  • A grandparent or great-grandparent
  • Her husband
  • Her dad

Their fans came to the show from…

  • All over Illinois
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Paris, France (not Texas!)
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Images from FE11: The Goodbye Tour


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Reactions to FE11: The Goodbye Tour


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Design credit: Emily Maczko. Photo credit: Teal Williams, Nick Heap, and tons of other loved ones. Thank you Clif Bar and the You Are Beautiful crew for helping make this last FE such a memorable one! When video is available, it’ll be on my YouTube channel. The photos from Day 1 though the Show are on the Mac & Cheese Productions℠ Facebook page.