Who are you, where you are from, and how did you start in this field?
Hal J. Cohen, from Philadelphia. I have lived in Maine since 1991 and I previously went to school here at University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine from the Fall 1982 to the Spring of 1987.
Regarding the arts, I took an improv class at my gym 6 years ago and loved it. And since then, starting about 4 1/2 years ago, I started taking improv classes, then acting classes, and now playwrighting classes, almost non stop.
Tell us something you know that we may not know, about yourself or the world.
About myself? I learned about Newton’s first law of motion, that an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force, up close up and in person when I bet a kid I could jump off a moving bike and remain standing. I lost that bet … and some of my body as well.
What inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I have a compelling desire to take on a novel challenge. On the flip side, I fear failure, not to the point of paralysis, but to the point of driven preparation.
Share with us something funny that has happened to you recently.
My life is always funny. It’s about perspective, I think. Okay, enough philosophy. Recently? At my son’s recent high school graduation, I screamed – really screamed – during the processional,”Josh Cohen. I love you son!” This happily brought a grin to his face and triggered laughter in the audience. It caused laughter because it broke tension. Sadly, no one else declared the love for their child as boldly and as silly as I did. “Bittersweet,” I think.
How do you bridge the financial gap between what this profession pays and making a living?
I am a physician. I am happily upper middle class. I am fortunate. I am one of the luckiest of all men. I see the financial struggles of younger artists, incredibly talented and gifted artists, and my heart goes out to them. Life without passion is a life filled with ifs and regret. These people live their passion! Life without sufficient money, however, is an entirely different struggle. My friends, these true artists; they often struggle. I don’t. But if we don’t collectively support the arts, we, all of us, with and without money, whether we know it or not, shall struggle.
What’s the best advice for the creative person that someone has given you?
Acting and improv 101, lesson one – “be in the moment.”
What projects are in the pipeline for you? Do you have a ‘dream’ project?
As I type this, there will be a staged reading in July at Acorn Studios of a one act play that I wrote. It will be the first performance of something I’ve written that is over two minutes in length. This summer is a summer filled with my beloved Defenders of the Funny improv comedy group here at Lucid.
And in the Fall I will perform in a series of Sam Shepard one acts, again at Acorn. A dream? I started doing all of this in my 50s. This is ALL a dream!
Would you like to share your contact information? How can readers find out more about you?
I use Facebook the way others use Twitter. So, I guess they can find me there. Or, they can come down with an awful, pus filled rash, and I can seem them in my office. But there will be a co-pay there. Alas, now and then, life comes served with a co-pay.
Editor’s note: Hal Cohen is also a member of the Lucid Stage Board of Directors.