This Spotlight focuses on Eloise Coopersmith, creator of the Home for Mom web series which focuses on elder care and grief in a residential care facility. And with the Coronavirus pandemic hitting this type of facility the hardest, the subject matter about finding a safe place for our elders is even more relevant to families now than when filming began.
Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?
Eloise Coopersmith (EC): I started my formal theater education at the Young Conservatory at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, graduated from Northwestern, and then earned my Masters from Cal State Los Angeles. I opened my own theater company in Los Angeles, “Open Book Theater” to bring literary works to the stage. Performing in many wonderful productions over the years has been a joy. Most recently, I was invited to be a part of the Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble in Santa Ana, and I developed my current web series Home for Mom.
(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?
(EC): Home for Mom our awarding winning musical digital web series was set to shoot the second half of the season on March 7th. In February we recorded the music at Clear Lake Studios, and performed a live reading at the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, all in preparation for the upcoming shoot days in March. But our lead actress notified the production team she was ill the week before the shoot, so there was no question we were going to have to cancel. I personally called each actor, crew and production team member as well as providing a written email explanation to everyone involved.
(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?
(EC): The majority of our cast is over 60 years old, which is appropriate since this project deals with elder care and grief in a residential care facility, which requires a more mature cast. And since our production team did not see how we could provide the safe space needed, we are in the process of pitching to different entities to take this project to the next level.
However, wanting to share the brilliant work of these talented actors, I placed the music on 50+ streaming platforms. We edited the live reading from the Frida Cinema performance and shared it on the “Re-imagine: Life, Loss and Love” event platform which focuses on the emotions we are experiencing during this pandemic. We offered a post panel discussion on coping with grief, spring-boarding off the reading. And the feedback has been gratifying.
(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?
(EC): I was cast in a play set to open in June, which of course has been cancelled. Currently, the OC and LA theater groups are holding online forums to discuss how to move forward bringing productions back for live audiences. Unity among creative artists is key to breathing life back into our “new” normal world.
(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
(EC): Using Zoom, I am a part of readings of original scripts to help writers to continue to develop their work. I am attending online productions of new works, and these powerful performances are impressive and inspiring.
“Home for Mom” is currently being uploaded in podcast format and I am using various social media platforms to create awareness of the project. And of course, I have already mentioned my involvement with “Re-imagine” and those artists keeping the conversation open through creative performances and discussions so people don’t feel quite so alone at this time.
(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
(EC): I think we need to remember who we are: a very resilient group. We built up a thriving, vibrant artists community once and we will make it happen again. We will do it with original, out-of-the box thinking, looking for solutions that may sound a bit crazy but we try it anyway. And it will work. We will help each other - because we are a community. And although it may seem scary, we are artists who take risks for a living and we make magic happen. It’s is who we are - it is what we do.
This article first appeared on Broadway World.