Time in the (LEIMAY) Studio with
LEIMAY Studio Manager Lou Mandolini in conversation with LEIMAY Fellow Drew Weinstein. Drew is a director, composer, sound designer, and all around great human.
DREW- It’s funny because my rehearsals at CAVE have varied so much depending on what I’m working on. For my own practice, I start by sitting in the space. I spend about ten minutes laying down and breathing which for me is a means of leaving whatever else is going on (in my life) at the door. Taking in the space for what it is and trying to enter my hours with an objective mindset instead of with all of the subjectivity I bring to space as a person in the world.
I’m currently looking at a couple of different projects in the space — trying to balance outside work with my own practice. It can be jarring coming out of larger rehearsal process and trying to connect back to my personal practice but it’s been so helpful to know I have my Sundays every week at CAVE.
Especially with my sound work, it has given me time to listen in a more constructive way. In comparison to working from home or in a public space, where there is so much external stimuli, I can focus in on the sound and my listening is much better — more bodily. It’s not just listening with my ears and with my brain, I’m listening with my body which really makes an impact on putting together sound. When putting together audio ideas, "yes" you want to hit intellectual concepts, pull together motifs, etc. BUT you also want to strike people somewhere. I listen and feel what strikes me — I think and hope that will transfer to what I’m creating for others.
At the end of the day, the act of artistic creation no matter how you do it adds something to humanity’s collective consciousness and I think there is so much value and importance in that. I want to be able to add to that bubble. Oh gosh, this is not a sentence. Creating art and creating work is really the only way I’ve been able to successfully comprehend myself and the world around me. When something affects me the only real way of dealing with it is through creation. That isn't always making a large scale theatrical work for everyone to see, sometimes it's just writing a song in my room that I will never show anyone. However, hen something has truly struck a chord with me and I believe the ideas are important enough to go outward, that’s when larger work that I’m showing comes into play.
I had heard a lot about all of the above from Raul Zbengheci (former LEIMAY Producer) and the entire HERE Arts Community. My first experience was for my Administrator/Producer interview. I remember coming to CAVE that first day... it was a beautiful and strange world. What struck me most after sitting down with Ximena and Shige was their sincerity. There wasn’t any cynicism or pretension, which we have all run into in the arts, it was meaningful and passionate. This situation has not come about with ease but that’s the merit of it. It came about with hard work, with blood, sweat, and tears. I left feeling like I could really spend a year here and learn.
It’s super exciting. I think I’m the only Fellow who has had the experience on both sides. As a producing artist, I produced SOAK 2017, and it’s been very cool to see it happen like this. Hats off not only to the LEIMAY Team but to all of the Fellow artists. Seeing messages exchanged and marketing come together in this way, everyone is really “in it to win it”. To witness a collective collaboration happen and it’s working! It is the shared mentality at LEIMAY if everyone gives a little no one has to give a lot. An important and refreshing experience in comparison to working with artists who don’t have any comprehension of the role and tasks of a producer. I wish there were more festivals or seasons made this way because I think it would create a lot more cohesion within the community.
I have been thinking a lot about this lately as a long-term goal. If I were to ever open up my own space it would be in my hometown, Pittsburgh. I have a lot of respect for the history and the people there. The city itself is dealing with many of the same issues as NYC in terms of gentrification and the displacement of people but on a smaller scale. In New York, young artists who want to create work or art spaces are dealing with a lot of oversaturation. I would create a space in a city that has a need for it. Pittsburgh at the end of the day is a blue-collar city but there is a younger generation of people who are curious about art and need exposure. I want to expand people's understanding of performance and what it can be.
Thanks for finding the time to meet with me and have this exchange. After being in an administrative role as a LEIMAY Team Member, you continued on and became a LEIMAY Fellow. It has been amazing to see your work and relationship with our community develop and grow!