2021 Tribe12 Fellowship alum Aimee Goldstein sat down with friend and colleague Doriane Feinstein at a bubble tea shop in Philadelphia’s Chinatown in October 2019, nervously planning on pitching a partnership to produce a theater festival.
Unbeknownst to Goldstein, Feinstein was nervously planning on pitching the same idea to her.
Though the festival went digital and audio-only due to the pandemic, it was a success by their standards.
The participating Phila-delphia-based playwrights approached the duo after the festival, asking what the production company’s next project would be. Only Goldstein and Feinstein didn’t have a production company. So they made one.
Shortly thereafter, Curlyfish Productions was born, with the purpose of “bringing a dynamic theater and shared life experiences through a Jewish lens.”
Hoping to partner with local Black, Indigenous and people of color creators, Curlyfish Productions aims to create theater that is “contemporary and edgy and thought-provoking,” sharing a diverse set of ideas with Jewish undertones and values woven into it.
With the pandemic hopefully retreating once more, Goldstein is hungry to return to the theater.
What does Curlyfish mean?
My hair is very, very, very curly, and ‘Dori’ is the name of the fish from “Finding Nemo.” It is as basic as that really.
What is your background in theater?
I went to school for acting — originally musical theater and then acting, so my background really is in acting and musical theater and singing.
I graduated from Temple, and from there, I worked at Bucks County Playhouse for five years in different roles: in the box office, front of house and also somewhat in company management.
With the exception of COVID, for the past five years, I was fully immersed in theater 24/7 … constantly seeing shows and constantly surrounding myself around creative people.
During COVID, I recognized that what I really enjoy is producing. I’ve produced a couple shows with Chickadee Theatre Co., which is also a previous Tribe12 Fellowship venture.
How do you plan to work with BIPOC (Black, Indig-enous, people of color) organizations?
Some of the things that Dori and I are really focused on is just really highlighting people of different cultures and backgrounds and ethnicities. For instance, if a playwright approached us, and they wanted to do a play about Black and trans lives on the streets of Philadelphia, we would jump at that.
We want to have conversations with the Black Theatre Alliance. Dori and I are really good friends with many people on that board, so that’s definitely a conversation in the works, as a goal to have a future collaboration, maybe a show, a play that we could work on together.
What are the next steps for Curlyfish Productions?
The next step for Curlyfish is to fundraise.
One of the things that we were considering starting, hopefully in 2022, would be a monthly or bi-monthly small play festival — to take 10-minute plays and have people of different religions and cultures and backgrounds read them.
[We want to] find new actors, hold auditions, maybe even work with people who we’ve worked with before and get a space, hopefully, that won’t be virtual.
I’m trying to write a one-woman cabaret; Dori wants to produce that through Curlyfish as well.
What is the first play or musical you saw?
I want to say it was the original “Cats” movie. The original one, the filmed Broadway production. When I was 7 years old, my father showed it to me. And I just thought it was the coolest thing that I’ve ever seen in my life. I ended up making — essentially, in theater, they call it — the “stage management Bible”; it’s like the bulk of all of the cues and characters and costumes and basically everything.
I was like a little mini stage manager at 7 years old. My parents took me to see it when I was 9 when it came to Philly, and I just called out all the differences from the movie. I was that person.
Do you have any theater superstitions?
I don’t know if I have theater superstitions as much as I believe that theater ghosts are real.
Have you ever seen a theater ghost?
When I was working in Bucks County Playhouse. I swear I was the only person in the building, and the doors were all closed and no one was there, and it was just me. There was no wind coming through, and especially not in the room that I was in. And I felt a breeze, and I saw a breeze come through, and then I swear I saw like this milky figure go through the door of the theater.
I wasn’t scared; I just felt calm. I was like, ‘Oh, there’s the theater ghost.’