Interview with Mitch Feinstein on his Solo Autobiographical Play FOR LOVE OR MONEY

I recently spoke with writer/performer Mitch Feinstein on this autobiographical journey in FOR LOVE OR MONEY that invites all of us to consider: Can we learn lessons and make changes, or is it too late? Set at the onset of the pandemic, a successful 76-year-old businessman is forced to examine his choices in life, what he thinks he has achieved, and what he feels he has lost. Why did he so fervently quest for money and security at the expense of his own happiness and the trampling of his artistic soul?

"At the beginning of the pandemic, I felt a complete loss of control," Mitch says. "The crashing of the economy brought to my present consciousness deep-seated fears that have besieged me all of my life." Like many during the extended shelter-in-place order, he found an online class to help soothe his anxieties.

Mitch chose a daily meditation and writing class with Jessica Lynn Johnson, Founder and CEO of Soaring Solo Studios (soaringsolostudios.com) in which Jessica guides and directs her students in the creation of their one-person shows. Jessica has directed and developed over 100 solo shows and has performed her own pieces for the past 15 years.

Jessica shares, "It is a joy to help Mitch and all of my students realize their dreams of solo performance. Part of what I do is help them process fears that arise so they can get their stories out and transform them into theatrical, entertaining, and dynamic pieces of art onstage. And we do it as a tribe, which is much more fun and supportive than doing it alone!"

The workshop's daily writing prompts helped Mitch coalesce the pieces of his lived story. "This is my honest attempt to understand and explain the choices I made in my life and perhaps provide guideposts for myself and others to acceptance and peace," Mitch says.

Offering further insight into his creation process, Mitch shares, "For me I had no choice. The way I was feeling in March 2020, looking back on my life, trying to find some peace as a way through the pandemic, the show just came out. The feelings and ideas had been brewing. The more acting classes I took, and the more I let go of my business career, the more I wondered how I had made the choices I made and where was I now. The short answer is this story is the best version of truth of choices people make between the practical and the loved."

Tune in as I am sure the focus of this show is a universal one for all of us whose lives have fundamentally changed in so many ways during the past year. FOR LOVE OR MONEY streams via Vimeo as an official selection of SoloFest 2021 on March 6, 2021, at 7pm. 75 minutes, no intermission. Tickets: $15.99. To purchase visit: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/mitchell/475377

Actor/Writer Bio: Mitch Feinstein always dreamed of being an artist, a writer, a professor, or an actor but his creative path was interrupted early on by forces in him that sought wealth and security. Finally at age 60, when his business career ended, he chose to study acting and was accepted to the Strasberg Institute. For five years Mitch was lucky to be able to study under Hedy Sontag, a preeminent "Strasbergian," and he became a member of the Strasberg acting ensemble, The Group at Strasberg. Memorable roles included Sorin in Chekhov's The Seagull as well as The Landlord in Gogol's The Lower Depths. Mitch continues to study acting with Martha Gehman of Zak Barnett studios and he has had several roles on stage with Theatre Palisades, including most recently, Mr. Hammerschmidt in "Parfumerie."

Photos courtesy of Mitch Feinstein


Sleep Out: Stage & Screen, Theatres to Provide for Artists, Free Training for Early-Career Actors With Disabilities, and More Local, National, and International News to Inspire, to Stir, and to Entertain

LOCAL

Audio Interview: The cast of “Under Milk Wood” at Atwater Village Theatre

Reflecting the milieu in which Dylan Thomas grew up, Under Milk Wood recounts the dreams, gossip and waking hours of the sleepy, Welsh seaside town of Llareggub — a name that seems innocent enough until you read it backwards. A slice of life set over a period of 24 hours one spring day, Milk Wood exposes the secret thoughts and reveries of over 50 residents in the salty fishing town. Unforgettable characters such as Jack Black, the sexually repressed cobbler; Mr. Pugh, who constantly dreams of murdering his wife; sweet Polly Garter, loved by many men, but still pining for long-dead Little Willy Wee; Mr. Waldo, who has impregnated virtually every woman in the countryside; twice widowed Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard, who dreams of assigning cleaning tasks to her two dead husbands; and town bigamist Dai Bread populate this odd place, and their affectionate charm and humor still captivate and entertain 65 years after it was written. The poetry wafts and enters through one's heart rather than one's head. listen to it here


PODCAST: An Interview with Director Jessica Lynn Johnson of 'Soaring Solo'

I interviewed Director Jessica Lynn Johnson, teacher of Soaring Solo, a how-to series of workshops and individual instruction on creating solo theatrical projects and bringing them to fruition. Jessica is often a one-woman cheering squad for her students, creating unique costumes out of their promotional bar cards and items for Fringe Festival parties.  read more here


Katy Sullivan, Victor William in “Cost of Living”, Manhattan Theatre Club, 2017.

Fountain Theatre awarded grant for Pulitzer Prize winner ‘Cost of Living' by Martyna Majok

The National Arts and Disability Center has awarded The Fountain an Arts and Accessibility Grant to support its upcoming West Coast Premiere of Martyna Majok‘s 2018 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Cost of Living. The grant will assist in funding the compensation of two actors with disabilities for the production opening October 20th. read more here


Activist Theater Company Launches Inaugural Season in support of Los Angeles Justice Fund

The Thursday Night Theater Club's inaugural season to begin with the morality play, “A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller, to benefit families in the Los Angeles area.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA (August 14, 2018) - Activist theater group Thursday Night Theater Club (TNTheaterClub) opens its inaugural season with Arthur Miller's “A View from the Bridge” on August 23rd, at the historic El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. The LA Justice Fund will receive a percentage of each ticket sold during the 10-week run. read more here


Rogue Machine Theatre trades Hollywood for Venice

Rogue Machine, one of Los Angeles' more prominent small-theater companies, is heading west this fall, relocating from Hollywood to Venice.

“We've been looking for a permanent home for 11 years,” artistic director John Perrin Flynn said with a laugh.

Several factors are behind the move. Most pressing: The company's current home, the Met Theatre on Oxford Avenue near Santa Monica Boulevard, is for sale and couldn't guarantee long-term occupancy, Flynn said. At the same time, the 99-seat Electric Lodge in Venice was in search of a resident company and appealed to Flynn as a black-box space with flexible seating arrangements. read more here


NATIONAL

Sleep Out: Stage & Screen

Broadway and Hollywood unite to sleep on the street for one night so homeless kids don't have to.

4.2 million kids in America will face homelessness this year.

Covenant House provides these young people with safe shelter and wrap-around services, including education and job training, so they can move forward to an adulthood free of poverty and the threat of homelessness. read more here and donate to the cause


Queens Theatre to Offer Free Training for Early-Career Actors With Disabilities

Applications are now open for the new training program for Deaf and disabled performers.

New York City's Queens Theatre is now accepting applications for its free fall training program for early-career Deaf and disabled actors. Part of the organization's Theatre For All initiative, the new two-week program will run September 16–28 and will be made up of various workshops culminating in a showcase performance.

All workshops and events will take place at Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Actors will be selected through an application process through August 22; read more here


Minority Voices Theatre

Local theater project looks to confront Eugene's diversity issues

Local theater directors Carol Dennis and Stanley Coleman had been churning around the idea of a diverse project for about six years after noticing a lack of diversity in Eugene and its reflection in the theater communities they were a part of.

“I grew up in Miami,” Dennis says. “I spent my 20s in New York City doing theater, and my 30s in Los Angeles doing theater. When I came up here for life situations, I wanted to do theater up here, and I realized just how white it is here, how small the communities of color are.” read more here


Monthlong exposition to highlight emerging veteran artists

11 locations will feature different artists

MADISON, Wis. - This November, emerging military veteran artists will exhibit two- and three-dimensional visual art, theater and performance art, music and writing at 11 different locations throughout Madison.

According to a release, "In Good Company: An Exposition of Emerging Veteran Artists" will display works that reflect the veteran experience.

Both veteran and civilian curators are organizing the events as a way to ignite discourse. Art created by veterans is starting to become a larger genre, the release said. read more here


FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Inflatable yellow theatre barge pops-up on east London canal

This year's Antepavilion is an inflatable arts venue on a barge that unfurls in just 12 minutes, created by architects Thomas Randall-Page and Benedetta Rogers.

Called AirDraft, the floating theatre boasts a balloon-like construction that means it can deflate in five minutes, allowing it to manoeuvre easily under bridges along London's waterways. read more here


Queensland Theatre's Artistic Director Sam Strong.

10 things theatre companies can provide to artists

Too often conversations around the careers of artists can get lost in the abstract. To counter that, Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Sam Strong gets practical.

ArtsHub performs a wonderful industry service for artists: spotlighting careers, highlighting the challenges of different cities, and shining a light on neglected parts of the sector.

However, a voice has been missing from these conversations. That voice is the voice of companies, the providers of opportunities to artists. read more here


PODCAST: An Interview with Director Jessica Lynn Johnson of 'Soaring Solo'

Photo by Monique A. LeBleu - Director Jessica Lynn Johnson of Soaring Solo, at the Hollywood Fringe Festival Prom Night 2016, Hollywood, California.

UPDATED: 8-25-18

I interviewed Director Jessica Lynn Johnson, teacher of Soaring Solo, a how-to series of workshops and individual instruction on creating solo theatrical projects and bringing them to fruition. Jessica is often a one-woman cheering squad for her students, creating unique costumes out of their promotional bar cards and items for Fringe Festival parties.

I first met Johnson at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2016, dressed head to toe in a costume crafted entirely from her students' and other producers' show cards. This creative endeavor she makes special each year for the annually anticipated social event, "Prom Night."

After seeing some of her students' shows at the festival and at the Whitefire Annual Solofest, I caught her in action at a recent Saturday morning workshop with LAFPI: The Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative at Whitefire Theatre, on Saturday, July 21, 2018.

I later spoke with Johnson, here, where we talked on the mechanics of her process for creating solo artist theatrical projects, her use of inspiring and provocative word prompts with exploring through two-minute on-the-spot writing, the free workshops she teaches at the Whitefire Theatre, and various festivals and creative outlets that feature solo shows such as Solofest, the Hollywood Fringe Festival, the North Hollywood Fringe Festival, and work with The Los Angeles Women's Playwrights Initiative.

The atmosphere in her home studio is designed to be conducive to creativity, both for herself and for her students, and she talked further on how the process that she teaches can go far beyond that of creating a solo show, but lead a deeper path into self-discovery.

Jessica Lynn Johnson will co-host Hot Off The Press, a Night of Excerpt Readings, post-show Q & A, and music, with L.A. Women's Theatre Festival, September 16, 2018, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at The Whitefire Theatre.

Jessica Lynn Johnson: Website, Facebook and YouTube.

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