Happy People - Andrea Stolowitz

April 7, 2020

by Christina Malango



Meet Andrea Stolowitz, a River Hugger swimmer and prize-winning playwright who is diving into writing an opera.


How long have you been swimming with the River Huggers and how did you discover the group? 

This summer will be my third summer and I found them on the Internet, of all places.


What is your swimming background?

I was a competitive swimmer as a youngster and the captain of my high school team. I was not the best swimmer but I was the funniest.


What do you think about when you swim?

Nothing. I swim about nothing. It is a perfect meditation. Just focus on the breath and few feet in front of me. I love River Huggers because of the camaraderie of swimming at 7:00 AM from the Hawthorne dock. I love biking there and swimming back and forth and back and forth. And I love the coffee afterwards.


Do you have a dream swim you’d love to do?

I would like to train for something in Hawaii or Catalina Island. Something tropical. But I can do more once I am a parent of college-aged students I imagine, in a few years.


Tell us about swimming in the Hudson River.

I only got to kayak. I kept trying to find open water swim buddies this past fall in NYC but no matter how many people I asked, folks were not dipping in the Hudson. Though they did have free public kayaking!


What do you do in your non-aquatic life?

I am a playwright and teach playwriting and screenwriting at Willamette University.


I hear you’re writing an opera! How does that kind of opportunity arise?

Well, about three years ago I met a journalist who had been held captive for three years in Somalia. He told me the amazing story of his mother who had negotiated his release. I kind of in the moment thought that her Herculean task required an opera. I then began doing research into other journalists who had been held in captivity and there was this weird thing: in most cases it was their mothers who had been instrumental in freeing them. There were other odd connections between the journalists and mothers.


Anyway, then I participated in a composer-librettist workshop in New York intended to help playwrights and composers meet each other and work together. I found my dream composer who lives in Montreal and is amazing in all ways and off we went. We just returned from a residency in Malibu where we fleshed out the plot and next up is a music workshop in Minneapolis in May. So actually, I need to write some words. Down. On. The. Page. And. Very. Very. Soon. Oh no!

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