“Truly excellent, honest and intelligent.”

        -Barrie Brett, Emmy award-winning producer, NYC

“Excellent! Resonated as truth in my body. A spirited contribution to the transformative dialectic of anorexia. ”

    -Marion Woodman, PhD, Best Selling Author

“Made me feel more human!”

  -Ingrid Drescher, RN, Toronto Psychotherapy

“Relevant and revelatory. See it! Run, don’t walk.”

                      -Allison Podell, Esq., NYC

“The play is a gem. Beginner at Life deserves to become a well-known play throughout the world.”

                      - Vee Malnar, Rock Chikz, Australia




"It was only through researching support groups online that I realised there wasn't much in the way of face to face groups here and I didn't want to go to a psychologist. Then I stumbled upon the Butterfly Foundation, ultimately leading me to a section on their website advertising your play, Beginner at Life. By this time, I wasn't indulging as frequently, and I did feel as if I was making some progress in the right direction, albeit very slowly. So in watching the play in Newtown, it was still very fresh and very painful - and the first thing I did when I left and got downstairs was burst into tears on the way to the car. But the tears were cathartic and the themes discussed all resonated because I'd been through them and could see that so had many others in that room, and it felt like a safe and trusting space. Hearing about how you overcame your food issues and those relating to your mother, virginity, boys growing up, husband, son and divorce, I took solace in your recovery and how you achieved this over time. I was suddenly filled with strength - your strength, and knew I had turned a corner, for the better." 

Within a month of seeing your play and watching the DVD again the following week at home, I was realising more and more that I needed to love myself more in order for me to be able to learn to trust myself to trust others. Not focusing all my efforts on food and consumption and weight freed me to work harder on my business and relationships with family and friends. I am happy and proud to tell you that meeting you and hearing your story was the catalyst in my journey into myself and in recovery - and for that, I thank you dearly Alana. I have put on a few kilos and am not my normal weight, but am exercising regularly, eating fairly well and have not succumbed to any of that destructive behaviour in months. I am confident that although a lapse could occur, I now know if that were to happen, I am able to now understand where the feelings are coming from and how to deal with them constructively so to not fall back into that trap. 




Carolyn Koens, Journalist, Sydney Australia

In today's society, eating has become a somewhat counter cultural act. We are fed by love; we are starved by love. 

Exploring the universal themes of eating disorders, confronting your fears and finding a sense of self worth, Alana Ruben Free's Beginner at Life challenges the notion that dictates a woman's power rests in the size and seductiveness of her body, while also addressing the absurdity of our obsession with women's weight, and its precedence over more pressing global issues such as the eradication of terrorism and war.

Part autobiograhical, part philosophical, Ruben Free's self analytical monologue is evocative and empathetic, tackling these issues with a frankness that's compassionate and amusing, yet touching to the core, offering constructive solutions and compelling insights to help set the healing process in motion.


Ruben Free emanates warmth, humility and authenticity in both her persona and work. There is a comforting sense of familiarity and candor in her presence, that's perhaps one of the reasons why her work resonates so strongly amongst her audience. 

Often succumbing to self-flagellatory yet inspiring internal dialogue during the performance, Ruben Free uses Beginner at Life as a vehicle to teach us how to take a more in depth snapshot of ourselves - our personal values, sense of self worth and place in the world. Irrespective of our age, ethnicity, or religious beliefs, our lives are in flux. We are on a journey, constantly beginning, living and learning, bound by a lifetime of buried emotions and resilience. Ruben Free shows us that confrontation can be the just the remedy for our emotional, spiritual and physical emancipation."  

Toronto Experts

Thank you so much for the outstanding perfomance you gave us at Sheena’s House yesterday. It was emotionally vibrant, deeply thought provoking, and inspirationally brave.  Thanks for saying all of it out loud.



Sheena’s Place, Toronto

More excerpts from letters that changed my life

October 15, 2004


You spoke clearly to me, without obstruction, without distraction, without undue focus on appearance or mechanics of delivery.  You spoke about matters mysterious and intimate which are not normally spoken of between individuals. I refer not to sex but of the ambiguous and primal uncertainties, fears, and struggles associated with sexuality, identity, and self worth.  You created a small haven of meaning given in the midst of infinite noise and artifice.  I feel, at least temporarily, in touch with humanity, with my humanity, by experiencing the intensity of your experience with your humanity. I am wondering if I can locate my own struggle and create my own torah. You spoke to my hollowness, to my potential meaning. How well, I know you, a person who I hardly know; how miraculous.





Do you know what you have? Do you know how you can touch and move people? You do not know me, yet you do and our experiences are different. We shared the same drunken angel and I am in touch more with past lives, the metaphysical than I am with life now.  I am older than you.  I help people, yet still I cannot help myself.  I have have eaten my feelings, my pain, my joy---all of it eaten.

...Women need you. People need you. We are all hurting...I loved your monologue...I think you can reach more people than you know.

Warmest Appreciation,





Your courage and clarity appeals to me as a female, recognizing some of the unspoken issues that we keep inside.  It speaks of the dignity that we allow ourselves with timely recognition of ourselves.  The part of the performance that was most touching ....actually spine tingling was your acknowledgement of one’s body as being holy.  Thanks for the illumination.

Thank You,


York University, Toronto


New York City Experts

"The depth of conversation that followed Alana Ruben Free's one-woman show, Beginner At Life, said it all for me. People are hungry to talk about the spiritual and psychological complexities of eating disorders and identity formation, not just harp on the fashion industry. Alana's show gives them the way in. With her fearless look at her own psyche, she inspires us all to move into the dark places inside and come out lighter and more evolved."

-Courtney E. Martin, prolific writer and author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

Beginner at Life is a ‘must-see’ for all my patients, their families, and friends.  Alana's work gets to the heart of the struggle between women and their bodies. She not only addresses issues surrounding eating disorders but also brings to light many complicated aspects of being a woman...understanding and ultimately accepting their voice. Alana has wholeheartedly embraced recovery and has provided the world with her experience with grace and brilliance.

-Maria Sorbara Mora, MS, R.D., CDN. Body Connection, LLC

Australian Experts & Audience Reviews for Beginner At Life

"The honesty in this play is beyond anything that I have seen on stage before, and it is this authenticity that gives the work it's power to bring people together; connecting  hearts and minds." 

- Annalise Pippard, Australian Eating Disorders Foundation

"Beginner at Life is as brilliant as it is shocking. Alana Ruben Free has created a compelling insight into the heart, mind and body of a woman who has suffered from anorexia, and portrays the tumultuous journey in a riveting yet poignant manner. One cannot help but be drawn into the heartache, anguish and despair of anorexia, only to bask in the exhilaration and ultimate freedom of recovery through finding connection with your heart and true self."

- Melinda Hutchings author of Fighting for Life: Anorexia the Road to Recovery and founder of www.bodycage.com

“Alana Ruben Free shares her own soul journey, with great passion, courage and wry humour.  Through her struggles and recovery, to the acceptance of herself and choosing to embrace life, Alana’s play evokes and illustrates universal themes.  

- Joan Harcourt, BodyPsychotherapist

"Alana Ruben Free's script is intelligent and emotionally engaging. Donna Brooks gives a captivating performance... Genuinely valuable and inspiring."

- Arts Hub review

“Brooks gives a moving performance…the playwright’s honesty and courage are confronting. For sufferers of eating disorders – many of whom stood up to share their stories at the play’s conclusion, it offers a chance to have a voice about a disease that is largely silent”

- Australian Jewish News review

“There were moments in the show where I was fighting back tears. Thankfully the tears were evenly distributed with laughter also as the story unfolded. An empowering, honest story delivered in a simple and moving way. I walked away from the theatre feeling not so alone and reminded how important it is to be kind to yourself.”

– Same Same theatre review

“Honesty and humour… an absorbing and thought-provoking theatrical experience.”

- Radio RRR-FM

Some personal responses

(recorded in Sydney audience guest book):

“Gives hope through the battle, through recovery that there is an end in sight. There is reason to keep going. Thank you!” – Debra

“So honest, so authentic, so beautiful. I have never seen anything like it. Thank you for bringing this to life.” – Elizabeth

“Brilliant and profound.” – Jean

“Touched my soul, spirit and – needless to say – body!” – Michelle

“Beautifully acted. Not a story about illness but about courage and liberation.” - Anna