Interview – Paradoja Studios co-creator Michael Pagano discusses how he staged his own shows – and how you can, too


Listen to the full interview with Michael Pagano below:

Michael Pagano


I work with this wonderful group of young writers and performers called Paradoja Studios ( It’s a group that creates and produces its own original stage shows. Michael Pagano is one of its co-creators and head writers, and he spent some time talking to me about the process of creating one of these shows, where he draws inspiration from, and how someone with similar aspirations can succeed.
From working closely with him for nearly four years, I can attest that Mike is a driven, creative, talented self-starter who realized early on that he wanted to present his own material to an audience.

It’s a gutsy move for anyone, at any age.

For all of his insight,listen to the whole interview, it’s an eye opening learning experience. But, for the sake of brevity, here is some of Mike’s great advice for people who want to put on their own shows:


  • Have a positive attitude and self-confidence. Have confidence in yourself and know that what you create is worthy of people’s time. He said it’s “like putting a little grenade there and watching it explode. Whether it’s a nice, cool explosion or it hurts somebody, it’s just fun to do that.”
  • If it’s on your mind, then do it. If you took the time to write it, then it’s worth the time to present it.
  • Don’t get caught up in what you think people will think. The most important person to make proud is yourself.
  • If you have a dream, do it now. You aren’t promised tomorrow. Don’t wait for your big break, you have to make it yourself.
  • Surround yourself with people who are just as positive as you are.

When we started the Paradoja shows, we had a budget of $0 (and still do). You don’t need a lot of money or fancy equipment to stage an excellent show. Find a community stage that you can use for a reduced price, or for free. Advertise for free on the internet (listen to what Mike says about promoting your show), and use your cast and your positive support system to spread the word.

Start in your community, do your best, and be proud of what you’ve created.

Sonnet Sunday: Shakespeare Sonnet of the Week – Sonnet 64

William Shakespeare was more than a playwright, he was a poet. He is studied by actors and English scholars alike because, through language, he captures the human condition.

Sonnets, while poetry, can be very important – and helpful – to theater performance.

All of his sonnets are written in iambic pentameter (if you are unfamiliar with iambic pentameter, this is a good place to start:, which means they have 10 syllables in each line, alternating stressed and unstressed (lost? see the link). It creates a rhythm, and all of Shakespeare’s plays are written mostly in iambic pentameter. Studying sonnets allows us to practice speaking and reading classical verse without the burden of trying to follow a five act play. They are a great introduction to Shakespeare. Sonnets illustrate how much storytelling power can be harnessed in 14 lines and they’re great for locking into the iambic rhythm.

I’d like to start this series off with sonnet 64, which includes, as a friend and colleague put it, images of beautiful destruction.


When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.


Why I like it: The realization that time is passing and that the inevitable path of the world is towards destruction is a terrifying, yet realistic thought. The speaker isn’t so much concerned with his (or her) own fate, but that “Time will come and take my love away”. The realization of his lover’s death is the true fear, the true destruction. Everything will fall around him eventually.

Because this is the first installment, I’ll include sonnet 65. It’s almost like a “sequel”, in which the writer finally realizes that he can keep his love alive through his writing. So it’s appropriate to include it so that you get the full story:

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

Next week I’ll have another one of my favorites that I feel a special connection to. Which one? Find out next Sunday.