Altar Ego

Altar Ego, an intimate immersive piece, was part of The Institute of Visionary History series produced by Submersive Productions at the Peale Museum in Baltimore. The project consisted of several “episodes” centering experiences of women of color, as well as exploring themes related to identity, enlightenment, repeated history and more. It ran for three days in October of 2018, and then again for another three days in July of 2019; the show was 45 minutes long, with several loops performed in one day.

I wrote Altar Ego as a response to my grandmother’s death, and also the subsequent confusion that befell my family on how to properly mourn her. It was also a love letter to a place I’ve been before (Vietnam), but never really known.

After one of the shows. We had about fifteen minutes to reset the room (and our emotions) for the next audience.

There is a space created in the disruption and confusion resulting from a sudden event like death. I wanted those who came to Altar Ego to be able to use that space to process the deaths and disruptions in their own lives.

During each show, audience members were asked to write down words that signified objects precious to a love one who had passed. We gathered these words and, at the close of the entire show, burned them in a ceremony in the yard.

Not many people got to see it, by design. Each audience had a maximum of five people. This is the first time I’d engaged in performance on such an intimate scale, and it was pretty terrifying at first. I’m accustomed to improv and to thinking on my feet, but nothing I’ve ever done before this has approached this level of vulnerability!

A happy Buddha awaits audience members in the debrief room, where they are invited to drink tea and decompress for as long as they would like.

I’m grateful to have the chance to have mounted the show twice. The second time around, we expanded the after-show experience by adding: cozy pillows, an altar that audience members could set, puzzles they could unlock to reveal tiny tin altars they could take home for themselves, bells they could chime. It’s the sort of care I’d like to feel after such an intense experience.


  • Glenn Ricci (core team / lights & sound designer)
  • Ursula Marcum (core team / wall puppetry)
  • Josh Aterovis (core team)
  • Susan Stroupe (core team)
  • Mika J. Nakano (induction / greeter)
  • Elizabeth Ung (induction / greeter)
  • Cydney Cohn (induction / greeter)
  • Mara Fabo-Wild (tech)


No Proscenium (in addition to being one of the loveliest things ever written about anything I’ve ever done, this review tells beat-for-beat what happened in the show):

DC Metro Theater Arts: