Pivoting with ...

PIVOTING WITH ... TARA FALK

Tara Falk in DCPA's 'You Lost Me.' Photo by Adams VisCom

Actor Tara Falk was flying high when her entire family got COVID. Now she's writing a graphic novel and mentoring the incarcerated.

"Pivoting With ..." is an ongoing series talking with members of the Colorado theatre community about how they are adapting to changes in their creative and personal lives as the COVID pandemic continues. Today: Actor and educator turned graphic novelist Tara Falk.

At a glance: For Denver actor Tara Falk, 2019 was all about beating cancer. This year, it's been an epic battle with COVID. Falk is a Broadway actor ("Metamorphoses") who most recently has appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's "Sweat" and "You Lost Me." She is married to DCPA Education Head of Acting Timothy McCracken.

Tara Falk. Photo by John MooreDescribe your life B.C. (Before COVID): It’s funny. When we moved here 10 years ago from New York, I was the one who put my acting career on the back burner, caring for our son and working an insurance job on the side. Over the past several years, I have dug my teeth back in again through teaching, working with at-risk teens and starting to audition again. I had just finished "You Lost Me" at the Denver Center, wrapped up "Reclaiming One Star" at the Colorado New Play Summit and was about to begin rehearsals for "Roe" at Curious Theater, as well as teaching again. I was back “in,” and so happy about it. I was enjoying it more than ever before.

Tara Falk: ‘I turned my cancer into the most positive thing'

What have you lost, personally or professionally, since COVID? Like almost every other artist I know, I lost several jobs, and the potential to book more work. Gone overnight. That yearning for community really gnaws at you. Ensemble. Working together. COVID has really shone a light on how much people depend on the arts and lean on them when they are searching for connection. The arts run through every fabric of society. Strictly from an economic standpoint, the arts contribute nearly as much as the entire airline industry, and yet they got a comparatively tiny slice of the stimulus. It’s frustrating and worrisome.

How are you pivoting? We’ve mostly been able to live as artists for more 25 years, so we are pivoting all the time. One week closing a Broadway show, the next week back to coat-checking, nannying and auditioning. Having a child who is remote-learning has placed me back in the home, like so many others. I’ve tried to look at this time as a space to grow and pay attention to aspects of my life that get buried when the hustle is on. I have been writing a book over the past two years and now I can really sit with it. It’s prose mixed with young-adult graphic novel, and it torments and uplifts me on the daily. “Just keep writing,” they say. So, I am. I’ve joined a writers group of phenomenal women, something I would never have done before. I have also joined the DU Prison Arts Initiative as a "responder" for a non-fiction writing course. It’s truly incredible. I have 23 students who are incarcerated at two different facilities. The work they send me, without having ever met me, is so brave and inspiring. I’m learning so much about my own writing through them. Art: It’s vital. Connection is vital.

2019 True West Award: DU Prison Arts Initiative

On top of that, your family had its own run-in with the virus early on. Yes, my husband had a severe run-in with COVID in March. Then my son and I got it, too. Our cases were more mild. Watching your husband shrink in size, look half-dead and gasp for breath in his sleep is terrifying. It was a long six weeks living in a zombieland, all the while ready at a moment's notice to rush back to the E.R. This virus is insidious, and the level of anger and frustration I feel with those not taking it seriously is overwhelming. I take deep breaths and look for the good, but it’s very difficult. I know people who have died or been in the ICU and believe me, this virus does not care whether you have preexisting conditions or not. My healthy 51-year-old husband now has ongoing lung and heart issues.

Tara Falk with her husband, Tim McCracken, and son on opening night of 'You Lost Me.' Photo by John Moore Tara Falk with her husband, Tim McCracken, and their son on Opening Night of 'You Lost Me' in January 2020. Photo by John Moore.

What have you learned from all of this? Nothing is guaranteed, that’s for sure. Artists are so used to having to “switch it up” and come up with creative solutions. But when your industry has completely shut down, that’s terrifying. I’m usually someone who goes out, does my thing and then comes home and hunkers down. I’ve learned that I need people. I adore people. I need the connection of ensemble, and I absolutely love to work, to dig in and be challenged. Both my husband and I are people who will give you 500 percent when you’ve only asked for 75 percent. That takes its toll. As an artist, you are so used to the hustle. Here you are interpreting life, unfolding it for others, and so often you're so busy running around with your head down. So we have drawn some pretty solid boundaries around our family life now. We are actually really hanging out with one another. We’ve just never had that time before. COVID showed me that I have a phenomenal team under my roof, and I am so damn lucky. Breathe and practice gratitude every chance you get.

What are your words of encouragement for others who are now pivoting their way through 2020? I always tell my students on their first day of class: “There is no right or wrong here. Get comfortable with falling on your face, wiping that egg off, getting up and trying something new. Go easy on yourself. Being here is brave to begin with.” Falling hard is sometimes the only way to find your character or figure out a scene. We, as artists, are so used to getting our butts kicked, and yet, we persevere. Art has been here since the beginning of time, and it isn’t going anywhere. A great deal of work and healing lies ahead, but we know how to do that. Watching how all my fellow artists around the world are tackling this time is beyond inspiring. It fills me with hope. Reach out, create, rest, connect and know there’s a giant tribe moving through this time with you, even when you just want to sleep and eat pizza all day. Think about how many of us feel the same way you do and breathe out love to everyone, including yourself. 

Read more: How The Denver Actors Fund helped Tara Falk  

Tara Falk graphic novel excerpt

More about Tara Falk

Tara Falk, a native of Gloucester, Massachusetts, has appeared on Broadway in "Metamorphoses," "The Constant Wife" and "Enchanted April"; and Off-Broadway in "This Is Our Youth" and "There’s the Story." In Denver, she has appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's "Sweat" and "You Lost Me"; Curious Theatre Company’s "Hand to God" and "Time Stands Still"; as well as Senior Housing Options’ "On Golden Pond" at the Barth Hotel. She most recently appeared in a staged reading of "Reclaiming One Star" at the DCPA's Colorado New Play Summit. She has been seen on TV in “The Black Donnellys,” “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns.” Falk is a Teaching Artist for DCPA Education and spent a year teaching playwriting to teenage girls with "Girls’ Write" for Girls Athletic Leadership School through The Athena Project. She received her BFA from Boston University College of Fine Arts and studied at the British American Dramatic Academy.

Read more: How COVID is impacting individual artists  

Compiled by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. Are you pivoting? Email John at culturewestjohn@gmail.com.

Home,Reignite the Arts,Donate Now,Donate Now,Corporate Giving,Art Circle,Visit Us,View All Events,Roland Bernier: In Other Words,Word Play,Animal Farm,Big Band Royalty,Lola Montejo: After Another After,Floyd D. Tunson: Ascent,Anthony Garcia Sr: Pigment,A Tribute to the Boston Pops,The CJRO presents A Night of Sizzling Soul with Larry Braggs,Pink Martini featuring China Forbes,Carlou D,Pamela Webb: Hand + Hammer,Lauri Lynnxe Murphy: Seeing the Trees For the Forest,Pink Progression: Collaborations,Imprint: Print Educators of Colorado,528.0: Regional Juried Printmaking Exhibition,Wood.Works,Carley Warren: Three Pieces,Viral Influence: Art in the Time of Coronavirus,Brady Smith: (Don’t be embarrassed by) Your Trouble with Living,Melody Epperson: 100 Years + 1,Blurring The Line,Dawes,Melissa Etheridge,Narkita Gold: Black In Denver,Australian Pink Floyd,José González,Art of the State 2022,Into The Woods,Elle King,Madeleine Peyroux In Concert,One Sheet,The River Bride,The History of African American Music Part 3,Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,Colorado Abstract +10: A Survey,Gary Staab: Second Nature,Flora: Scientific Botanical Illustrations of Colorado Plants,Charlotte's Web,Art + Science,Jeffco Schools Foundation High School Art Exhibition,Wendy Kowynia: Following the Thread,Spring Pottery Sale,Teacher Appreciation Concert,Damn Yankees,Bueno: Mark Bueno,Mary Poppins,Denver Gay Men's Chorus: Divas, Icons and Justice Warriors,The Book Club Play,Guitar Stars and Friends,The Denver Brass: In Pursuit of Leisure,Swing, Swing, Swing: Benny and Beyond ,Spamalot,A Night at the Movies with the Colorado Symphony,Toad the Wet Sprocket and Cracker,Ramón Bonilla: The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for me.,Keb' Mo',Boz Scaggs,Lucero,The Ladies of Soul,Ben Folds,Drawn: From The Source,Day of African Culture,Cleo Parker Robinson Dance presents Living the Lush Life,Face Vocal Band,Mozart Under Moonlight,George Thorogood and the Destroyers,Indigo Girls,Big Draw Colorado,Collective Soul,A Tribute to Chick Corea with Eric Gunnison,Exhibition Unveiling,Honoring Dance Legends: Great teachers and choreographers of the 20th century,An Evening with Holocaust Survivor Sara Moses,Rockley Instrument Sale,The Laramie Project Talkbacks with Judy and Dennis Shepard,Allyship & Advocacy in Action: Supporting the LGBTQAI+ Community,Emilio Lobato: A Mi Manera A 40-Year Survey,Latitude 37° Art of Southern Colorado,Beautiful - The Carole King Musical,The Laramie Project,Colcha Embroidery of the San Luis Valley,Hazel Miller and the Collective: Christmas with Soul,Cinderella Dinner and a Show,Fine Art Market,Holiday Pottery Sale,Our Town,Big Band Royalty: Nothin’ But the Blues,Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella Sensory Friendly Performance,Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella ASL Interpreted Performances ,Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella,iZCALLi: La Posada feat. ArtistiCO Dance Company,Artist Proof: Print Process at Oehme Graphics,Exhibition Tour and Artist Talk with Sue Oehme,Sue Oehme Inclusions,Big Ink,53rd Annual Jeffco Schools Foundation High School Art Exhibition,Matt Christie: Between Then and Now,Print Jam,Noises Off,Latin Sounds From Legendary Artists,A Year With Frog and Toad,Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812,Arvada Center Spring Brunch,Robin Cole: Genesis,Dining Partners,Amplify,Theatre,Upcoming Shows,Performances for Students,Auditions,Galleries,Current Exhibitions,Gallery Events,Upcoming Exhibitions,Art Sales,Art Submissions,Sculpture Field,History Museum,Archive,Education,View All Classes,Summer Camps,Full Day,Summer Camp Performances,FAQ,Spring Break Camps,Classes for Kids,Classes for Adults,Ceramics,Front Range Youth Symphony,Dance Classes,Links and Forms,Arts Day,Arts Day Outreach,Ageless Adults,Scholarships,Yesterado,Yesterado,Field Trips and Outreach,ECE Field Trips,K-5 Field Trips,Middle and High School Field Trips,Outreach Programs,Preschool Partnership Program,Music and Dance,Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra,Summer Concerts,Humanities,Private Event Rentals,Caterers,Vendors,Straight Talk Series ,Straight Talk with Philip Sneed,COVID’s toll on Colorado theatre: 224 productions and counting ,Straight Talk with Lynne Collins,Straight Talk with Rod Lansberry,Straight Talk with Phamaly, Buntport, Colorado Shakes and Rocky Mountain Rep,Straight Talk with Creede Rep, Town Hall, Candlelight and Theatre Company of Lafayette,Straight Talk with Aurora Fox, BDT Stage, Cherry Creek Theatre and Misfits,Straight Talk with Su Teatro, Vintage, Backstage and Counterweight,Straight Talk with Local Theater Company, Theater 29, The Source and Equinox,Straight Talk with the Denver Center, Jesters Dinner Theatre, Glenwood Vaudeville Revue and Germinal Stage-Denver,Actors' union issues safety guidelines for re-opening,Straight Talk with square product, Forge Light, Springs Ensemble Theatre and Coal Creek Theatre of Louisville,Straight Talk with the Fine Arts Center, Miners Alley Playhouse, Dangerous Theatre and Lone Tree Arts Center ,Straight Talk with Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and Northglenn Arts,Straight Talk with The Catamounts, Bas Bleu and Thingamajig,Straight Talk with Curious Theatre Company,Straight Talk with OpenStage, Firehouse and Adams Mystery Playhouse,Straight Talk with Platte Valley Players and Theatreworks,Straight Talk with Parker Arts, Stories on Stage and Thunder River ,Staight Talk 2 with Philip Sneed: This much is uncertain,Arvada Center News,Getting to Know The Big Tuna,Getting to Know: Keith Ewer and his Hammered Dulcimer,Pivoting With,Pivoting with The Black Actors Guild,Pivoting with ... Emily Van Fleet and Nathan Jones,Pivoting With ... Tammy Franklin and the Curtain Playhouse,Pivoting With Nick Sugar and the Town Hall Arts Center,Pivoting With Helen Murray and the Aurora Fox,Pivoting with Edith Weiss and Christy Montour Larson,Pivoting With Scott RC Levy and the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company,Pivoting with Todd Debrecini for Halloween,Pivoting with Ashley Campbell,Pivoting with Meghan Anderson Doyle,Pivoting with Jenna Moll Reyes,Pivoting with Erik Fellenstein,Pivoting with Ray Bailey ,Pivoting with Tara Falk,Community News,Inside the Arvada Center,All About Printmaking Techniques,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Collin Parson ,Christina Noel-Adcock,"Bright Star" cast unveils video as message of hope,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Christine Moore,Humans of the Arvada Center: Steven Cogswell,Humans of the Arvada Center: Ashi K. Smythe,City of Arvada to install new sculpture in Hoskinson Park,Humans of the Arvada Center Jessie Page,Humans of the Arvada Center Cal Meakins,Humans of the Arvada Center: Adam Stolte,Supreme Court workplace ruling hits home for Lisa Leafgreen,'Time for talk is over': Arvada Center launch 'Amplify' series to raise black male voices,Humans of the Arvada Center Jon Olson ,Humans of the Arvada Center: Abygail Rosales,Revealing The Dialogue,Amplify Epiode 3 launches, series expanding to include black women,Photo Blog: Sweeney Todd Rehearsals,Humans of the Arvada Center: Gabriel Morales,Cleo Parker Robinson dances back in the box with Arvada Center,Amplify turns the mic over to local Black women ,Beth Malone bringing 'joy bomb' to Arvada Center oon September 4,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Emily King,Amplify Women Episode 2,Special Book Honors Special Dance Teacher,amplify-series-comes-to-powerful-conclusion,Take a stroll through 'Sculpture in the Field',Lessons from a summer of outdoor theatre in the time of COVID ,Humans of the Arvada Center: John Hamilton,Doreen Montalvo in Denver: Compassion and grit,Betty Hart's presidential promise: Build a bigger tent,Humans of the Arvada Center: Brenna Clendaniel and Sophia Koop,On being Black in Denver and all the colors that it brings,2020 True West Awards: Buntpivot ,2020 True West Awards: Lily Bradford,2020 True West Awards: The Scenesters,2020 True West Awards: Podcastic,2020 True West Awards: Phamaly takes 'Honk' to Japan,2020 True West Awards: Christine Moore,2020 True West Awards: Alive Inside,2020 True West Awards: Michael Ensminger,True West Awards: They Wrote the Book,True West Awards: Rent-A-Pals,True West Awards: Of Spacious Skies,True West Awards: Christopher Page-Sanders,2020 True West Awards: Suffer the little children,2020 True West Awards: Spirit of Giving,2020 True West Awards: Secret Gardeners,2020 True West Awards: Denis Berkfeldt,2020 True West Awards: Amplify,2020 True West Awards: Reclaiming One Star,2020 True West Awards: William Hahn and Jessica Robblee,2020 True West Awards: Lisa Wagner Erickson,20 for 20,Meet the Frasers,Lucy Roucis' final act is a gutpunch,Reunite the Arts Collin Parson,Jodie Steeves and Nancy Terry,Reunite the Arts Lisa Leafgreen,Remembering John Gratkins,Reunite the Arts: From our CEO,Danielle Johnson Q&A,Reunite the Arts Lynne Collins,The Show Must Go On,Diana and Mike Kinsey,Get to Know Kazu Oba,Meet Suzanna Champion,The Gear of Million Dollar Quartet,FRYS and the Symphony,Get to Know Carlou D,Stories From the Studio,Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Lares Feliciano,21 for 21,An interview with Geoffrey Kent: The Liar,An interview with Jada Suzanne Dixon: Stick Fly,An interview with Jessica Robblee: Animal Farm,Fast Facts About Kinky Boots,Costume Department Boots Up,Rod A Lansberry Announces Retirement from Arvada Center,Lynne Collins Named Artistic Director of Arvada Center Theatre,Getting to Know José González,Getting to Know Joan Osborne and Madeleine Peyroux,The Many Sounds of Carlou D,Setting the mood: Into the Woods Set Designer Brian Mallgrave,Into the Woods Directors Note,The River Bride Director's Note,What is Magical Realism?,Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Ana María Hernando,Meet Ceramics Artist Luanne Burke,From student to teacher: Hadley’s story,Tackling the Beast,Things to Know About Our Town,Creating the Look of Our Town: A Q and A with Set Designer Brian Mallgrave,Whatever Lola Wants - A Deep Dive into the Damn Yankees Signature Song,Selling Your Soul - A Pop Culture Favorite,The Book Club Play Reads,Metatheatre Elements in Our Town - When a Play Knows It's a Play,90s Throwback Vibe with Arvada Center 2023 Summer Concert Series,Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra at the Arvada Center,Opening Acts of the Arvada Center 2023 Summer Concert Series,Getting to know Baaba Maal,Big Draw Highlights,The Music of Keb' Mo,Getting to Know Lucero,The People at the Indigo Girls ,Listen to the hits of Carole King with this playlist,Carole King: The Writer Behind The Music,Songs inspired by Matthew Shepard,Summer Internship at The Arvada Center,Arvada Center journeys to Southern Colorado : A Photo Diary,Arvada Center and Colorado Chapter of Free Mom Hugs share the love,Costume Inspiration for Cinderella with Costume Designer Madison Booth,Getting to Know: iZCALLi and ArtistiCO,The Many Faces of Cinderella,Arvada Center awarded Social Impact Theatre Grant from Biller Family Foundation,The music that influenced the music of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,Volunteer,About Us,Ticketing Policies,Authorized Ticketing,Group Tickets,Ticket Discounts,Contact Us,Accessibility,Health and Safety,Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access,Careers,Tours,Adopt an Actor 2023,Adopt An Artwork,Temp,Land Acknowledgement,What To Expect at the Theatre,One Sheet Music,Gift Certificates,LGBT Resources,Privacy Policy,Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet Seat Map,Gala,Gala Sponsors,Errors,404,Natasha and Pierre Synopsis,Concessions,Summer Preorders