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Reviews of Adult Programs based on
Dramatic Presentations Combining
Original Art and Original Writings
by Dr. Elana Ashley


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS SENIOR CENTER, 1801 West Central Road, Arlington Heights, IL [November 12, 2014]

Jan Tossman, One Grateful Audience Member and Resident of Arlington Heights:
"Recently I had the great fortune of experiencing a unique and heart-warming performance by Dr. Elana Ashley, educator, author and artist. Through exuberant storytelling, mixed media art, and poetry, Dr. Ashley swept her audience away into her world, as she intimately shared her life’s journey with us. Her words touched me, made me think and reflect, causing me to evaluate my life thus far and ponder my future. She asked us to explore our special gifts and think about how we can make a difference in the world. “Life is a mystery,” she said. “Life is a journey” to be enjoyed one moment, one season, at a time.  Unexpectedly, Dr. Ashley brought tears to my eyes with a few of her poems/songs, as I thought about my personal struggles and those of my loved ones.  On the other hand, she brought me to laughter with other poignant pieces of artistry.  In other words, she made me feel.  As I left the venue, I felt changed somehow – rejuvenated – determined to continue my volunteer efforts with more fervor, dedicated to making every day count. 

If the reader of this review has the opportunity to experience one of Dr. Ashley’s performances, don’t hesitate for a moment. Trust me, your life will be enriched. Thank you Elana, for putting yourself out there – for exposing your innermost thoughts and feelings – for improving the lives of your audience members. May God bless you with continued good health as your journey unfolds. I'm sure it's going to be an exciting and joy-filled ride." 

Carey Rothbardt, Mutual of America, Audience Member:
"On Wednesday, November 12th, 2014, I had the great pleasure to attend Dr. Elana Ashley’s performance of her Life’s Journey through Original Art and Original Writings. Right away, Dr. Ashley greeted her guests and made them feel at home. When the program started, she used a power point system to display her artwork. One by one, Ashley shared prints of her paintings and each of her images had a story, a song or a poem behind it. Her use of gestures and the changing inflections in her voice really brought her paintings to life. She was so inspirational. She had one person in the audience in tears because of the dramatic and ‘touching’ ways she presented her written works.  I can honestly say - If you haven’t attended one of her performances, you are missing out. Dr. Ashley is extremely talented and a joy to listen to.”

COUNCIL OF JEWISH ELDERLY, CJE SeniorLife Program presented by Dr. Elana Ashley at Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center, 3003 West Touhy, Chicago, IL [October 24, 2014]:

Esther Craven, Resource Coordinator, CJE SeniorLife:
"Audience members were very engaged and remained interested throughout the program. The program was very unique with a combination of many facets of original and creative works."  

Francine Rabin, Audience Member, CJE SeniorLife: 
"I attended Dr. Elana Ashley's program at Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center and was inspired by her poems and beautiful paintings.  As she recited each prolific and moving poem, I didn't want her to stop because she was overflowing with talent and words of wisdom.  I highly recommend her program to any community organization for a delightful experience for all ages to hear and see."

Andy Vass, Retired, Audience Member, CJE SeniorLife; presently, Special Programs Executive at Boy Scouts of America, Northeast Illinois Council.
"I have known Dr. Ashley for a number of years and hold her in high regard. I recently attended a Council of Jewish Elderly SeniorLife Program presented by Dr. Ashley on the north side of Chicago. She performed a lively, dramatic presentation accompanied by her poetry, songs, stories and paintings. The audience was thoroughly engaged throughout, and, following her concluding poem, they eagerly asked questions about her writings, her art, and her personal experiences. Elana answered each question in a very open, personal way. The program was meaningful to all the participants and flowed well. Before we knew it, an hour had passed.  I highly recommend Dr. Ashley as an inspirational speaker for adult and senior audiences."


Penny Fields, Vice President, OCWW - Storytelling Performance, The Wilmette Public Library, Wilmette, IL [April, 2014]:
“Dr. Elana Ashley presented her paintings and prose at the Off Campus Writers Workshop Stand Up Storytelling Event in April [2014]. Her paintings are breathtaking and her prose is beautiful. We look forward to future presentations by Elana since there is so much to gain from her talents."

Sarah Schwarcz, Communications, OCWW - Storytelling Performance, The Evanston Public Library, Evanston, IL [July 11, 2014]:
"Elana is not your usual artist. Her unique presentation of both literary excellence and visual art vibrancy will astonish you. She weaves inspirational songs and poetry with multimedia artworks that reach your heart and soul. Elana's dramatic readings take you on a cultural journey through her writings and paintings that brings all your own emotions and beliefs to a spiritual high."

Ruth Hafner, Manager, Reader Services Department, Northbrook Public Library, Northbrook, Illinois [December 17, 2013]:
“Dr. Ashley, an artist, educator, author and storyteller, presented a program entitled, ‘An Evening of Dramatic Reading’…Dr. Ashley relayed engaging stories followed by dramatic readings of some of her original poems and songs.  She displayed some of her original artwork that inspired these writings or vice versa.  In this personal way, she shared important life events with those in attendance…those who attended were drawn-in and moved by the stories and personal events that she shared.  The evening was a success…” 

Janie Baskin, Author, Artist, Teacher, Northbrook Public Library, Northbrook, Illinois [December 17, 2013]:
“I was fortunate to be in the audience at The Northbrook Public Library the night Dr. Elana Ashley presented her poems, songs and personal stories. Dr. Ashley's work reflects an introspective nature as well as an appreciation of the natural and spiritual worlds. She covered a broad variety of topics from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to riding a subway. Dr. Ashley uses her voice to reel the listener in and maintains their attention with her willingness to reveal her vulnerabilities-- the same universal fears and musings common to most of us. The evening’s performance was enhanced by Dr. Ashley's positive and upbeat personality, which made the experience memorable.”   

Judith Marinelli Godfrey, Educator and Writer, Northbrook Public Library, Northbrook Library [December 17, 2013]:
Elana Ashley’s presentation on Tuesday, Dec. 17th, 2013, at the Northbrook Library was a refreshing exposition of human emotion in forms of poetry, media paintings, and song lyrics. Her expressions of feeling transcended her personal experiences and drew her audience into landscapes of universal truths and fanciful imaginings. The easy flow of her words and boldly designed art offered a varied and colorful potpourri of life transitions and transformations, reflecting the sustaining base of her own self-acceptance and outer wonder.”

James Kupper, Audience Member, Northbrook Public Library, Northbrook, Illinois [December 17, 2013]:
“I genuinely enjoyed the evening and seeing you in action. I found that I strongly related to your real life happenings. One of your spiritual poems so touched me that I felt the reading of this work at the religious service of Congregation Ahavat Olam which I attend would be a beautiful addition. I also think that my congregation would be interested in a dramatic presentation. Many thanks for your inspiring performance.”


Rabbi─Cantor Nancy Diamond Landsman, Congregation Ahavat Olam, Deerfield, IL [February 28, 2014]:
“As the spiritual leader of Congregation Ahavat Olam, I would like to thank you for presenting at our first "Taste of Shabbat" service with our congregation. Your presentation was most enjoyable. Your original poems and artwork are truly beautiful. I especially enjoyed the variety of your work and the way in which you expressed yourself when you recited your poems and narratives. Your passion shined through ever so brightly! Thank you! I wish you continued success.”

Cathy Williams, Audience Member, Congregation Ahavat Olam, Deerfield, IL [February 28, 2014]:
“Dr. Ashley's art is not just visual or written or spoken, it's all. Serious themes, especially Biblical, find their way into poetry, which she reads aloud with the command of theater. She takes the audience down an uncommon, yet satisfying path.”

Barbara Turner, Co-Chair, Lifelong Learning Committee - Ashley's Life Journey through Original Art and Original Writings, Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County, Lombard, IL [September 17, 2014]:
“Dr. Elana Ashley captivated our Lunch and Learn/Seniors group with an inspiring hour of original poetry, song lyrics and art.  Her own uplifting journey, which she shared through her creative use of language, while projecting colorful, vibrant images on a screen, encouraged us to consider our own sources of creativity and vitality.”


For the past five years Dr. Ashley has been immersed in the area of bullying issues and prevention strategies which have taken the forms of especially writing and illustrating books and presenting programs. However, she longs to share her original poetry, songs, and dramatic prose coupled with her paintings and mixed media that are viewed through power point.

For further information and bookings of dramatic program combinations of art and writings at your library, university, senior center or residential living facility, synagogue, church or other community organizations:
call: 847.480.8998 or e-mail: