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Birtolo to bring Ida Tarbell to the island

Performance of ‘The Mind Must Be Convinced’ set for Feb. 14

January 23, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Ladies of the Elks are bringing back writer and performer Janina Birtolo next month to present the story of yet another fascinating historical woman during a luncheon.

Tickets for the Feb. 14 show include lunch and performance for $20. Those interested in purchasing a ticket can call Ann Thomas (Matlacha) at 283-0415, Joan McCaffrey (St. James City) at 283-5379 or Pat Barnhart (Bokeelia) at 283-4042.

Birtolo said she began depicting historical women in a one-woman performance in 2000 with "Most Affectionate Daughter," which told the story about Galileo's eldest child. That original piece won her the "enny award" from N magazine for best performing artist.

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Janina Birtolo will perform “The Mind Must be Convinced,” a one-woman play about Ida Tarbell, at the Pine Island Elks Lodge on Feb. 14.

"I think it gives the chance to share what I learn about these fascinating women with other people and to do it in a way that I thoroughly enjoy doing," she said about her one-woman performance.

Before moving to Naples in 1990, Birtolo lived in Massachusetts. Since moving to Florida, she said she has written for practically every magazine down here, which has been the bulk of her career.

Her newest woman, whom she will be performing at the Elks Lodge next month, is Ida Tarbell. "The Mind Must Be Convinced," Birtolo said, tells the story of Tarbell, who was considered a "muckrake" journalist.

Fact Box

If You Go

What: "The Mind Must Be Convinced"

Performance by: Janina Birtolo

Where: Pine Island Elks Lodge

When: Feb. 14, doors open at 11 a.m., lunch

at noon with performance following

Cost: $20 includes lunch and performance

Tickets: Call Ann Thomas at 283-0415,

Joan McCaffrey at 283-5379 or

Pat Barnhart at 283-4042

"She was really the inventor of investigative journalism," she said. "She wrote the history of the Standard Oil Company."

Tarbell is the 10th woman Birtolo has depicted through her performances.

As a writer, she said she heard about Tarbell because you find other women writers when researching history.

"I just thought I would be someone a little different from the types of woman I have been portraying," she said.

The first performance of Tarbell was done at Lakes Regional Library a year ago because of her relationship with Carrie MacDonald. Birtolo said MacDonald encouraged her to research Tarbell's story.

Over the course of a couple of months, Birtolo submersed herself in reading material, either with book or online content, to familiarize herself with the investigative journalist, as well as that time period.

"I wanted to get a good sense of what was taking place during that period of time," she said.

Part of the reason Birtolo was attracted to Tarbell was because there are a lot of similarities between that time period and what we are experiencing now in terms of the gaps between the rich and poor.

Tarbell was born in 1857 and died in 1944. She said the 45-60 minute show portrays Tarbell up until 1920.

"Ida has proved to be quite popular," she said. "People really enjoy the story."

The doors at the Elks Lodge will open at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served at noon, with the performance following.



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