The Daily Mash-Up

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 This Week's Paper
Local theater veteran takes acting to the virtual world

Take a walk for a moment. Fear not, the journey doesn’t even require leaving your chair. It’s a virtual walk of fantasy, fiction and far-off lands.

Your guide will be Judith Cullen. The local theater veteran faced one of those “career transition” crossroads people do when they are middle aged. She wanted to continue her 25-year career in theater, but the market is what it is. Struggles are constant even in good times. So rather than just struggling in the arts world, she took her talents to the virtual one and became a storyteller in Second Life. The real-time, online world found there allowed her to be creative beyond the bounds of the “air-breathing world.”

In Second Life, Cullen uses the avatar “Cale” to read classic stories and new works through the Seanchai Library, as a member of Avatar Repertory Theater and the Dickens Project that brings the Charles Dickens classics to modern, online audiences. Second Life members simply log in, “walk” to the library and hear her read tales in real time while her avatar takes to the “stage.” Listeners can even explore photo galleries and presentations all during the tale much like a live reading at Kings Books or Barnes and Noble in the real world.

“I have been Ebenezer Scrooge. I’ve been Long John Silver, and I’ve been pretty good at it,” she said. “I have moved myself to tears while reading a story. It is a very intimate and communal environment.”

While she continues to find full-time work, her contracted story telling is finding success, including a one-woman play about Carole Lombard, and three full-length novels.

The pay isn’t great, but keeps her lights on while she continues to find a more stable flow of paychecks.

“I have found it really hard to find something that isn’t just a ‘job,’” she said. “The key to anything I do is that I have to be passionate about it.”

And in a reversal of her previous migration to the online world, she has returned to the real world with a set of books of her original works.

“A Trio of Irish Tales,” and “Reflections from The Golden Wheel” are available for on Amazon as ebooks as well as in print form.

Live readings are in the works for: 2 p.m. March 23 at Mason United Methodist Church, 2710 N. Madison St., at the WomenArt Swans Day Celebration at 7 p.m. April 7 at Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd. More information is available at