Marlene Rasnick, an improv theatre actress, director and teacher who created her own works and became widely known as a spokesperson for the medicinal use of marijuana after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, died in Los Angeles Nov. 18, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Ms. Rasnick was 57 and was an advocate and board member of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Co-Operative. With a doctor's consent, and under California law, Ms. Rasnick was among those allowed to use small amounts of marijuana to lessen the side effects of her cancer treatments. The Supreme Court later struck down the California law.
Ms. Rasnick was born in Los Angeles and studied theatre arts at UCLA. In 1973, she founded Public Works Improvisational Theatre, according to the L.A. Times. Among her original works were Purse Strings, which she performed and co directed, about women and money. The Times reported that in her work she focused on "autobiographical improv, mixing theatre games, poetry and original songs to depict themes rooted in her own life."
Throughout her career, she continued free-form improv theatre, taking suggestions from the audience, and met her husband, Lee Boek, in 1977. Together, they developed improv theatre pieces, including Coming Close, inspired by her experiences with her own family, Tai Chiapas, A Whale's Tale, Street Heat, The Spirit of Defiance, Shooting Someone Dancing, Up South and, in July 2001, IM-PRO-VIZ-MO.
Ms. Rasnick taught workshops and led classes for children, urban youth, seniors and others over the years. Her husband survives her.
— By Kenneth Jones