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Jonathan Mirin’s Acclaimed Solo Show 28 Feet Comes to Worcester

Monday, April 29, 2013

 

Jonathan Mirin playing the guitar in 28 Feet. Photo Courtesy of Bear Cieri.


After tour stops in Boston, Western MA, New York City, Helsinki, and Atlanta, Jonathan Mirin’s comedic solo performance about growing up with Crohn’s disease comes to Clark University's Tilton Hall in Worcester on May 1st. The free, hour long show will be followed by a short talk back with the performer and is open to the public. This particular performance is also part of the May Day Mental Health Summit organized by Common Pathways. The performance begins at 3:15.

A One-man Play

Inspired by his two-decade battle with the disease, 28 FEET traces Mirin’s wild ride with original songs, puppetry, clowning, stand-up comedy, 20 characters and a high-energy, physical performance style. People suffering from all kinds of chronic illnesses - mental and physical - have attended the show and found a mirror of their experiences in Mirin's story.

Likewise, therapists and medical practitioners have found value in the condensation of a two decade history into an entertaining and thoughtful theatrically-charged hour. The impossibility of separating physical and mental experience is now widely accepted and Mirin's performance brings this link home as he bounces from therapy sessions to GI docs to surgery to complementary practitioners.

"I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 1990 and the next nine years - which is a lot of what I cover in 28 FEET - were very challenging physically and emotionally. When I was thinking about the subject of my next solo show, it just seemed like there was no other topic I could deal with before dealing with Crohn's disease. And of course, I was hoping that by doing a show about this, it might become a valuable night at the theatre for others with Crohn's or who have lived with chronic illness," says Jonathan Mirin.

The title 28 FEET comes from the average length of the digestive tract which suffers from inflammation in Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases. The show is directed and designed by Godeliève Richard, a Swiss native who shares Piti Theatre Company’s Artistic Director title with Mirin.

A Performance for All Audiences

"People have attended for different reasons. They range from wanting to understand the disease better, perhaps because a partner or loved one has it, to people with Crohn's or another chronic illness like depression, chronic fatigue, diabetes, etc. who have a found a mirror of their experience and a nice outlet for laughter and tears, to simply people who love theatre and storytelling or solo performance as art forms," remarks Mirin.

"The show in Worcester is part of the May Day Mental Health Conference organized by Common Pathways. So there will be a lot of folks from the medical and mental health field there which is great. But it is also open - and free - for anyone whether or not they attend the conference."

Mirin also gets much personally out of doing the performance.

"I get a lot of satisfaction in the sense that it gives me a chance to serve people in some of the ways I've talked about. People with Crohn's or other really challenging experiences get a chance to step back and live it from someone else's point of view and a lot of times that distance allows for laughter - which of course has been proven to be healing. Others become sensitized to this experience of chronic illness or Crohn's in particular and perhaps it helps them be more supportive of people they care for or of themselves down the road," he says.

Mirin’s first solo performance – Riding the Wave.com – was the subject of a front-page feature in the New York Times Business Section and nominated twice by the Independent Reviewers of New England for Best Solo Show. 

Common Pathways

This will be the first time Common Pathways, a local coalition of public, non-profit and private sectors working together to build healthier communities in Central Mass, has presented theatre as part of a community conference.

Executive Director of Common Pathways Clara Savage says, "Jonathan allows us to practice what we are preaching and enjoy a few moments of entertainment to decrease our stress level. This is mental health in action for anyone."

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Worcester Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Please visit www.ptco.org and www.commonpathways.org for more information on the play and Common Pathways.

 

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