Swimming Lessons with Michael Shutt and Diana Wyenn


Online conversations with the creators of A LESSON IN SWIMMING and viewing access to the 2019 Workshop Production!

Aired on August 12th, 19th, and 26th, 2020

Each year, roughly 800,000 Americans experience a stroke. In 2015, actor, director, and longtime Moving Arts’ company member Michael Shutt survived three.

Michael then spent years writing scores of short stories about his experience before teaming up with director and dramaturg Diana Wyenn to take his powerful and unexpectedly hilarious story to the stage. In 2020, they were scheduled to open the world premiere of A LESSON IN SWIMMING at Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles when the coronavirus pandemic hit. It soon became clear that their plans had to get pushed…or they could adapt.

For three consecutive Wednesdays this August, Michael and Diana will log online from their homes to share with you insights and stories from the creation process. They will focus first on the writing process (August 12); followed by the workshop and staging process (August 19), and finish by taking your questions (August 26) once you’ve seen the archived video of the 2019 workshop production—which will be available on-demand for free from August 19–26!

Accessibility: The Wednesday evening conversations will be live-streamed with ASL interpretation and captioning, and archived on movingarts.org and michaelshutt.com with closed captioning. The video of the 2019 workshop production will be provided with closed captioning.


Michael Shutt, speaker

Diana Wyenn, speaker and broadcast director

PXT Studio, broadcast producer

Diana Elizabeth Jordan, project consultant

Moving Arts / Bootleg Theater, producers

SWIMMING LESSONS is presented by Moving Arts and Bootleg Theater and made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture. 


Aired on Aug 12th, 2020

Hear how Michael went from an actor and director of new plays to writing his first full-length autobiographical solo show and becoming a semi-finalist for the 2020 Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference. This first conversation delves into Michael’s writing process, as well as Diana’s dramaturgical process for developing solo shows and is full of creative kick-starters. You’ll hear about how writing prompts and groups led to live readings, how writing became an unexpected and invaluable part of Michael’s post stroke journey, and how two simple feedback questions unearthed the core of what would become A LESSON IN SWIMMING.


SWIMMING LESSONS 8/12 from Jason H Thompson on Vimeo.



Aired on Aug 19th, 2020

Learn how Michael, Diana, and their creative team collaboratively realized A LESSON IN SWIMMING. Putting this play onto its feet and into Michael’s memory was a beautiful journey of discovery full of cut pages, choreography, immersive sound and lighting, and lots of repetition. This conversation shares insights into the workshop process and highlights how meeting the accessibility needs of a performer with a disability can reveal a myriad of creative opportunities for everyone involved in the project, including the audience.





Aired on Aug 19th-26th, 2020


After hearing the behind-the-scenes scoop on how A LESSON IN SWIMMING was created, check out the 2019 workshop performance! 

 Hilarious and poignant, A LESSON IN SWIMMING takes you inside writer/performer Michael Shutt’s brain as it “breaks” and invites you to experience how deep the cracks really go. Left partially blind, partially paralyzed, and partial to chocolate pudding, Michael sets out on a quest to put the pieces of his broken brain back together and ultimately discovers that what he perceived to be “broken” might actually have been cracked open.  

Available on-demand with closed captions from Wednesday, August 19 through Wednesday, August 26 for free with registration. All registrants will receive an email on Wednesday, August 19 with instructions for how to access the recording at their convenience over the following week.




Aired on Aug 26th, 2020

Michael and Diana answered questions submitted by the audience that weren’t covered in the first two conversations. 


Image description: Header image includes circular headshots of Michael Shutt and Diana Wyenn as well as the text “Moving Arts and Bootleg Theater present Swimming Lessons with Michael Shutt and Diana Wyenn” on a bright blue background over an underwater photo background.