I grew up in a small house in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, a New England town with historic houses from the 1600’s and a church on the town green featured on sugar packets. In the 1960’s, we had three “country clubs:” one for the Catholics, one for the Protestants and one for the Jews. My father worked at a factory that manufactured art smocks for grade school children. My mother stayed at home. We did not belong to a country club.
Following my father’s footsteps, I went to Bowdoin College. I majored in Chemistry and minored in Comparative Religion. Following the collective unconscious of my Jewish heritage, I went to medical school. In my classes at Stanford University School of Medicine, I learned the molecular pathways of cellular metabolism. In my after-school adventures with New Age practitioners, I learned how to walk on fire and breath myself into alternate states of consciousness.
In 1990, I drove my white Toyota Corolla to Seattle where I spent the next 15 years cultivating my career as an anesthesiologist, two dogs and two children. In 2010, I had been divorced, my children were moving out of Seattle, and I was breaking up with a new partner. It was time for a show!
“In Search of… Richard Snyder” was inspired by the 1970’s TV series, “In Search of...” Where Leonard Nimoy had searched for UFO’s or the Yeti, I was searching for myself at the age of 50. In performing 90 minutes of monologs in front of 160 people, starting in Longmeadow and ending with reflections on my grandparents, I found myself: a doctor wanting to heal personal and professional lives with modern science and ancient wisdom.
In 2012, I was inspired by my 14-year-old son’s video blogging to create a short film of my own. I used comedy, science and personal revelation to explore the nature of attraction in “On the Nature of Hotness.” My team and I started making a video blog piece but we ended up with a film. The film screened at The Denver Starz International Film Festival, the Ojai Film Festival, the Santa Fe Film Festival, the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and the New York City International Film Festival where it was awarded Best Comedy in Short Film.
My performances on stage and in film taught me creative processes and performance exercises that unexpectedly translated into my work as an anesthesiologist. I had had many years of experience providing direct patient care, administrative leadership and clinical teaching. I had been listed in Seattle Magazine’s “Best Doctors in Seattle had been designated as “Outstanding Provider” by my multispecialty group. I realized that my patients and colleagues had deep needs for human connection in our work that we hadn’t been taught in medical training but was taught in performing arts.
Therefore, I learned group facilitation by Partners for Youth Empowerment, and the Thiagi Group; Improv and Meisner based Acting by Freehold Theater in Seattle and Second City in Chicago. I organized and taught workshops at Stanford Center for Immersive Based Learning and Simulation, UCLA Simulation Center, the International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare and his own hospital. In 2014, I co-presented the innovative curricula, "Medical Improv" at the American Association of Medical Colleges annual education meeting. I delivered the keynote address on teaching Communication Skills at the 2014 Stanford Center for Immersive Based Learning and Simulation Annual Symposium.
I continue to work as an anesthesiologist in Seattle and perform my own work as well as sing in the Seattle Men’s Chorus.
I am currently at work on a new book on the medical science of the chakras.