If you live in Los Angeles then you probably feel a connection with the arts. And, since you live on this planet then you should also care about our climate. Bring these two things together and you get the first-ever multi-disciplinary climate action arts festival: VisionLA ’15.
One artist looking to draw attention to and cultivate conversation about our environment is actor/writer/producer Mike Ostroski, who brings his innovative one-man show, “Groundwork”, to the festival on December 5th and 6th. Armed with only a few seed packets and a banjo, Mike leads audiences on a theatrical journey of gardening, climate change, and the search for self.
Mike Ostroski digs deep to reveal even more about “Groundwork” in this recent interview.
Give us an overview of your one-man show “Groundwork.”
MIKE OSTROSKI: Groundwork shares the story of Paul, an actor who one day, out of the blue, gets hit with the idea “grow a garden” like a meteor hitting the planet – and he’s off. He reads the books, sows the seeds, and before his first tomatoes ripen, departs on a crusade to save the planet one precious seedling at a time. Saving himself, however, will prove a much harder battle.
What inspired you to create the project?
MO: I’d never thought about gardening before, but one day, similarly out of the blue, I just had to get my hands in the dirt. The process of gardening was itself fascinating, but it was the intense need to garden that really piqued my curiosity. Where did this sudden desire to grow something come from? What function was it performing within my head and heart? How did this idea come to be? As I’m an actor, I wanted to try to explore these questions via the language of action. Groundwork is the result of this exploration.
What do you hope audiences at VisionLA take away from it?
MO: The context of the piece is backyard gardening, but the focus of the play is the struggle to find inner-sustainability within a world of melting ice caps and rising tides. When Paul tells his personal story, the audience witnesses an example of a fellow human being bravely seeking solutions from the challenges of seeking this sustainability. I hope they will see that their own struggles with sustainability, with survival, are indeed valid and worthy of being fought – that the struggle is worthy. And in this way, I hope they feel less alone. There is indeed a safety in numbers.
What have you discovered about the show, yourself, or this eco-topic along the way?
MO: I’ve discovered that we all really do share a common language in our connection to earth. We have a need to put hands in the earth and to share the food we grow. We thrive from the circles of community that rise from the tending of land. And even if we don’t know it consciously, we need to move through our lives this way. We’re built to do so. It is good for us.
If we could wave a magic wand and go back — is there anything about the show that you would do differently as the creator/performer?
MO: My only regret is that I wish I would have started sooner. I had the idea for Groundwork a long time before building the courage up to actually begin. When something hits you like the idea for this piece did within me, when lightening hits you that clearly, it’s probably best to get on with the cultivation as soon as possible. Because if it’s true – lightening-strike true – the idea is already hot, ready to be forged, ready for the growing. The momentum is already built-in somehow in the beginning of things. I wish I would have harnessed this energy immediately instead of letting it cool a bit and then having to build the energy back up again when I actually committed to rolling up my sleeves on this project.
Since this is a special performance – any plans to perform it again in the near future?
MO: Yes. I’m taking the show to Maine in early January and there are plans to do a longer run back here in Los Angeles in late January and early February. I’m really looking forward to these next opportunities.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MO: If you’re in the Los Angeles area, be sure to check out all the events within VisionLA’15. The festival’s calendar is really exciting. You couldn’t possibly see it all – but what a great problem to have! (www.visionlafest.org) And also, if you’ve never grown something from seed, give it a go. It will change your life.
Thanks, Mike – keep on sowing your seeds of change!
Saturday, Dec 5th: 2:00pm and 8:00pm / Sunday, Dec 6th: 7:00pm
The Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre (5636 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038)
Reservations: www.groundworkvisionla.brownpapertickets.com / 818.508.6640
For more about future Groundwork productions visit: www.groundworktheplay.com
To keep up with Mike Ostroski visit: www.mikeostroski.com