The Mind Must Be  Convinced – Ida Tarbell

Written by and Featuring: Janina Birtolo 

One Show Only: Jan 12

Janina Birtolo continues her exploration of the lives of fascinating historical women with The Mind Must be Convinced, an original one-woman play about Ida Tarbell, the investigative journalist whose work helped break up the Standard Oil Company.

Labeled as one of the “muckraking” journalists of the early 20th century, Tarbell resented the title and preferred to view herself as an historian. As can be seen from her works, she was more interested in uncovering truth than in promoting any particular political agenda. She believed that “the mind must be convinced” by facts, rather than emotion or sensationalism, if positive and permanent change was to come.

Tarbell’s willingness to spend countless hours digging for factual information and its supporting documentation coupled with her commitment to treat her subjects fairly allowed her writings an authenticity that made them both popular and powerful. Indeed, her History of the Standard Oil Company – despite its unexciting title – served as the basis for the subsequent anti-trust legislation that broke up Rockefeller’s monopoly.

Like her fellow muckrakers, Tarbell believed that the illegalities and injustices of her day, particularly in industry, needed to be revealed. Yet, for all the power she wielded with her words, she remained a gentle, self-effacing person, one who was quite content to remain in the background – taking notes. Ida Tarbell’s tale shows the great difference one determined person can make in the lives of many.

Fully costumed, The Mind Must be Convinced is a lesson in history, humanity and the value of perseverance and diligence. The program runs about one hour and requires little space. Only a chair and a small table are needed; all other props are supplied. Post-performance question/answer sessions can also be arranged. For more information, references and/or to arrange a performance, contact Birtolo at (239) 592-1137 or visit her website at

Janina’s Bio:

Janina is a graduate of Boston College and Boston University and holds a M.S in Television Broadcasting and a B.A in English. She is a freelance writer with articles that have appeared regularly in national and local publications including N Magazine, The Phil,  Gulfshore Life, Times of the Island and Naples Illustrated. She was selected “Writer of the Year” in 2001 and served as field producer for Arts Edition Primetime produced on WGCU-TV.

In 2006, she won the Enny Award from N magazine for “Best Performing Artist, and in 2007, she was chosen “Best Local Entertainer” by Gulfshore Life.

It is difficult to list all her acting credits in this space. The page would overflow. But some of her acting credits include: Wit, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Later Life, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, Noises Off, Three Tall Women, The Sisters Rosensweig, Tony & Tina’s Wedding and many more. She has appeared on stage with The Naples Players, Theater Conspiracy and Naples Dinner Theater.

Along with her writing and acting credits, Janina also creates and performs her own original works of famous historical women. You will see her in and around Naples and Marco Island sharing the stories about some of the most famous women in history which include Sarah Bernhardt, Amelia Earhart, Gertrude Bell, Suor Maria Celeste, Abigail Adams, Mary Todd Lincoln to name a few.

She has become a fixture here at TMP as part of our Lunch Box Series on Saturdays. This is her fifth season with us. This season she presents the story of journalist, Ida Tarbell.