Keeping the Arts alive Online

Jay Michaels, a member of the independent theatre and film movements, started his podcast In the Passionpit in 2018. It has since transformed into an online video show. He interviews independent theatre and film artists about their successes and tribulations. He has also interviewed the industry pioneers, such as the Tony award- winning producer of Hadestown, Jim Keirstead, and actress Joyce Randolph of The Honeymooners. Most recently was his series called Essential-Nonessential, in which he spoke to artists about creating during the pandemic and planning for the future when theatres reopen.

Jay and his partner Mary Elizabeth Micari came up with the idea to connect to various industry professionals to share their opinions on everything from art to politics. The podcasts started out small but became more popular when the pandemic hit, and more people contacted Jay to be on the show. The interviews are done based on who is available and who contacts Jay, and there can be as many as two interviews a day. He gladly speaks with any independent theatre artist who wants their voice heard.

Jay believes that people need to hear from these independent artists, because, “firstly, these are people who are living it… They’re telling you what they’re going through, so it’s real-time information, there’s no agenda… And secondly, the arts are always the last on the list… from what I hear, Broadway and indie theater are not opening up until well into 2021, so the arts could very well disappear, and the only places we have to see it is on zoom and in interviews.” Jay says that the most important thing is to educate people, which is his goal for these interviews. He says, “There’s so many bio movies now like Hidden Figures, The Green Mile, and so many others that deal in people that we don’t consider famous, for lack of a better term. You hear about ordinary people making history, and I think that’s the big thing with these interviews. Famous people don’t want you to know what they know, so when you have someone who is on the front lines telling you their tale, telling you what’s going on, that’s the real information.”

Jay also has another podcast called Terror Talk, in which he talks to independent horror filmmakers. He has always been an avid lover of horror films, and he had wanted to pursue a career in that industry. Jay ended up discovering musical theatre and Shakespeare on his journey to the horror film, which began his passion for theatre. He sees a connection between horror film and theatre, as the horror genre started with the Grand Guignol in the 1800s. He also says, “I think people laugh at horror movies, saying that they’re just silly stuff. No, they’re cautionary tales. From someone’s imagination, sure, but why don’t you look at the fact underneath it?”

Links to Jay’s interviews can be found at

by Kayla Goldfarb


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