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Meet Debra De Liso of Walk A Mile Works ~ Theatre Company in Atwater Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Debra De Liso.

Debra, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
After writing my first autobiographical solo play – about my disabled mom – I found that it healed a part of me. I had just graduated from UCLA and remembering my mission statement to get in there- I wanted to train myself in order to bring theatre to communities that had lost a place for storytelling.

And with the magic timing that sometimes comes with good intentions – I was invited to teach dance in a woman’s prison. It was life-changing for me. I grew my classes into “playwriting thru movement and improv” workshops and for three years we created autobiographical theatre together.

That was over twenty years ago. I have now dramaturged and directed over 500 original one-person shows. I have put my heart into new works by first-time playwrights, with seasoned professionals, and my beautifully diverse circle of students at USC and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Several of these plays have “legs” and gone onto solo festivals in New York City, Germany, and Edinburgh Scotland.

My theater home has been the Atwater Playhouse for the last five years. Before that, I rented a room in a church in Pasadena. I have core a group of actors, mostly from the east side, that have been studying with me for a happy while. We have produced some compelling original theatre and I have written a comically inspirational indie film script with choice roles for my crew. It is about a small town community of misfits finding their way to come together.

My two wishes ~ to collaborate with an online production company that can launch the personal, moving, autobiographical solo play shorts online, and a producer who has the heart to back our film project.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Sustaining a theatre company takes passion. I got that.

But on a teacher’s salary – and keeping the class prices accommodating- paying for theatre rental space is challenging.

I have not advertised my classes- no budget for that.

It is just cool that “word of mouth” keeps us going. And audience members who are invited- often are the new playwrights in the next workshop because they have experienced the communion of live storytelling.

I usually include students who cannot afford to pay if I see artistic potential and a strong work ethic. They help out the company- learning to run the lights and sound for our performances or help with social media.

Ultimately I “recoup the nut” but don’t make much profit.

Please tell us about Walk A Mile Works ~ Theatre Company.
Raw, one on one storytelling. In intimate theatre, the solo performer with each audience member creates a connection. The audience member reflects on their own life events as they see and hear and witness the comedy and drama of the playwright’s sharing.

No fake news in a theater when a playwright/performer has chosen to their own life stories with you.

We need community in our country, live theatre can provide this.

The Walk A Mile Works theatre experience specializes in authenticity of human communication. No “bots” here.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
It was at the Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond, watching my Aunt Marie playing various roles in this gem of a community theatre. At eleven years old I was honored to play Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol” on that stage and got to use a stick cane to make the audience believe I was a boy and had a real limp. I heard people in the audience sniffing back tears – powerful.


  • Improv Classes $30 per 2 hour class
  • Solo Performance Classes $50 per 3 hour class

Contact Info:

Image Credit:, Anete Puskas

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