If you live within an hour of San Francisco, I hope you will consider an evening of theater at The Marsh, this holiday season. On most nights, Carlo D’Amore performs No Parole, an autobiographical one-man show that points to the fact that “family is a life sentence.” Carlo has a great deal in common with all of us since he grew up in the shadow of his late mother who was a con artist.
Although Carlo left home as soon as he could at age 18, he continued to have contact with his mother. Towards the end of her life, she suffered a right brain stroke and could not live alone. Carlo took her in and cared for her. Even in this state, his mother continued to con and manipulate him. He explained to Chad Jones, “After 30 years of going through these experiences, it came home to me,” he says. “I went ballistic. I came close to…I don’t know.” He confronted his mother, who at the end of her life did finally stop the conning.
Following those events, Carlo decided to write about his experiences and turned them into the theatrical production which is described as a “wry, energetic adventure play, No Parole takes you on a kaleidoscopic journey through the life a flamboyant, live-for-the-moment con artist mother, who has no trouble posing as an attorney, professor, daycare worker, or nun. From Peru to the Hollywood Hills to an illegal New York City walk-up, No Parole provides a hilarious and gut-wrenching look into the life of an extraordinary woman who saw the world as her playground.”
Many have found that writing about life with a sociopath/con artist helps them sort out their feelings. Carlo takes this a step further, since he not only wrote his story, he performs it in this production in which he plays both himself and his mother.
I am thankful to Carlo for pointing out that family is indeed a life sentence. Even for those of us who have no more contact with the con artist family member, the person continues to be part of our lives. Carlo told me No Parole is about coming to peace with that reality. I am impressed with Carlo who has been able to come to a place of integrating both the good and the bad experiences he had with the mother he loved.
In addition to showing us that at least one sociopath finally stopped conning, Carlo shows us that many at risk kids are capable of great things. The same genes that can contribute to antisocial choices can also make for leadership and creativity-including acting. Carlo made the decision early on that he was going to use his talents in a prosocial way through acting. His Broadway credits include the Round About Theater Company’s production of Tennessee William’s “Summer and Smoke” directed by David Warren, and most recently “Latinologues” directed by Cheech Marin where he played seven different characters to sold out crowds at the Helen Hayes Theater.
Carlo has another solo show in the works, Feet First. This show is based on his mother’s brother. As is common, Carlo’s mother was not the only sociopath in the family. Carlo told Chad Jones, “My uncle died in San Quentin chained to a hospital bed. It’s a tragic story,” Carlo says. “The title comes from Incan lore: if you’re born feet first, and you make that journey, you’ll be blessed to waltz through life. It’s basically about a man looking at his life from prison and attempting to pass a positive image on to his son.”
Carlo hopes to bring No Parole to the New York City area which he considers his home. I wish him success in that effort. He was kind to speak with me and share some stories of his mother. Even before I had a chance to share my views on the subject, he pointed to the quest for power which is central to the personalities of con artists. He also shared that his mother was very high energy and required little sleep.* He and the rest of his family were not surprised that she had a stroke, given the fast paced frenzy that was her life. He also spoke of the fear he lived through as a young boy worried that his mother would be arrested and imprisoned.
Carlo said he was glad I told him about Lovefraud, he was glad to see our efforts to reach those who have sociopaths/con artists in their families. We all take a certain amount of comfort in the fact that there are others who understand the mind games, unless you’ve been there… Can you really know what it’s like?
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
No Parole at The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., San Francisco. Tickets are $15-$35. Call 800-838-3006 or visit www.themarsh.org.
*(I have gathered a lot of evidence that points to con artists being sociopathic and manic).
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