20’s & 30’s Cohort
MILLENIAL ARTS INITIATIVE
NEXT @ The Braid is a new artistic platform and creative community offering a paid opportunity for young adults to engage in a structured hands-on learning experience creating new Jewish arts & culture for their generation. A cohort of 6-8 young adults will be selected to team-up and collaborate in an Arts Council that will meet over 9 months. The group will receive mentorship from seasoned industry professionals while being charged with developing and producing a show of their own — including performance, stories, music, poetry, film, and art. This program culminates in a live show produced at least six times in interesting venues through Los Angeles as well as online.
Jewish Women’s Theatre (JWT) Names Millennial Fellows
Santa Monica, CA (November 28, 2016) Twelve talented millennial actors, writers, producers, and directors have been selected from a pool of nearly 50 applicants to take part in the Jewish Women’s Theatre’s (JWT) NEXT @ The Braid Arts Council, a new initiative made possible by a $150,000 Cutting Edge Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation), with $15,000 in additional funding recently awarded by the Erwin Rautenberg Foundation, which consults with The Foundation on its grantmaking.
In August, JWT received The Foundation’s two-year grant to create an artistic platform that will connect millennials to their Judaism – and let them loose to create “pop-up” performance and art shows throughout LA and via social media. Since then, JWT has been recruiting and interviewing young professionals throughout the LA area to select a cohort of budding talent and leaders to be mentored and collaborate to become the core of the next generation’s Jewish theatre/performance professionals.
Abbe Meryl Feder, an actress and Jewish activist, was chosen to executive produce the program. “I am thrilled to take on this leadership role in JWT’s latest project,” she said. “This is a tremendous new opportunity for young Los Angeles artists who care deeply about theatre and want to share a Jewish perspective.”
The NEXT @ The Braid Arts Council will produce two shows over two years, each to be performed in multiple locations throughout Los Angeles, and then filmed so clips can be available online to reach wider audiences. Shows will feature about a dozen 1-7 minute pieces written by lay and professional writers in their 20s and 30s and brought to life by professional actors. The wider community will be invited to submit pieces and audition for these upcoming shows.
“We are excited to bring the voices of the next generation to Jewish theatre,” said Ronda Spinak, JWT’s artistic director. “Our goal is to work with the best and the brightest Jewish talent to create relevant, valuable, contemporary and sustainable theatre for today and tomorrow.”
The program was first piloted with a micro-grant from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ NuRoots Initiative. Cutting Edge Grant funding has enabled JWT to build up the program and take it to the next level. Over the last year, JWT worked to cultivate Next Generation Voices in collaboration with Moishe House and Reboot Los Angeles. The result was a new show, “My Bad, My Good” that debuted in Los Angeles last fall and spurred community interest for more programming and production related leadership opportunities.
Sharon Landau, JWT’s Managing Director was impressed and encouraged by the response to the call for NEXT @ The Braid Arts Council participants. “The diversity, caliber and excitement of our applicants exceeded our expectations,” she said. “Clearly many young adults are searching for a creative community to connect their talents and passions with their Judaism professionally and personally.”
“This Jewish Women’s Theatre program empowers millennial Jews to explore and express themselves creatively, opening up new areas for growth and enriching the Jewish experience in our community,” said Marvin I. Schotland, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation. “We are proud to support their innovative program at The Braid, and look forward to learning of its success.”
To view longer bio’s of our fellows, click here.
Those selected as NEXT @ The Braid Arts Council fellows:
LISA CIRINCIONE is an actress and producer whose stage and screen credits include work in the US, the UK, and Italy. She produced and stars in Porcupine, which had its world premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival and has played on screens around the globe. She was recently cast in Francis Ford Coppola’s upcoming film and shot an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
RACHEL BERNEY NEEDLEMAN is a director, performer, and producer of classical and new works. She directed Gigi Bermingham in Cabaret Noel, as well as workshops and readings of new plays for the Blank and Skylight theatres and Theatricum Botanicum. She is also an affiliate member of Antaeus Theatre Company, where she directed several Tennessee Williams’ one-acts.
AMIROSE EISENBACH is a writer and producer with over a decade of entertainment experience, having worked at Warner Bros., Fox Interactive Media, and most recently AMC Theatres editorial. While at AMC, she launched their independent film division, including a weekly Women in Film segment.
VANESSA ESPINO graduated from Cal State Fullerton University with an emphasis in playwriting and was a KCACTF regional finalist for her original play Odilia, which was remounted for the Hollywood Fringe Festival and won the Hollywood Fringe Scholarship and Inkwell Playwrights Promise award. She has written several other well received plays.
ANDREW FROMER, a Los Angeles native, received a BFA in theater at UC Santa Barbara then lived in Israel and dived into filmmaking. He has acted in AMP Creative’s Highway To and Mockingbird Pictures’ The Sweet Life. Andrew also edits, directs, and hosts his own podcast on the entertainment industry, SideKickBack Radio.
SIGI GRADWOHL is a Swiss-Israeli-American triple citizen and member of Theatre of NOTE. Favorite theater credits include her critically acclaimed role of Daphna in Bad Jews (co-executive producer), The Diary of Anne Frank (winner, Best Leading Actress) and Askance (winner, Scenie Award). TV: Girl Meets World and Jessie (Disney), among others.
CHELSEA LONDON LLOYD, a USC graduate, has been pursuing a comedic acting career. Recent credits include a pilot for Adult Swim, Lifetime film, and a national billboard campaign for WAG. She is a graduate of the TENT Jewish Comedy program and Sinai Scholars. In addition, her sassy, self-deprecating humor has made her a standout in viral videos on BuzzFeed and Funny or Die.
GINA LORING, a poet/singer/songwriter has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry, BET’s Lyric Cafe, and TVOne’s Verses and Flow. As guest artist of the American Embassy, she has performed in Kuwait, Russia, West Africa, and Tunisia, among others. A college professor by day, she holds a BA from Spelman College and an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles.
ABIGAIL MARKS, a Los Angeles native, holds an MFA from the Academy for Classical Acting at the Shakespeare Theatre and a BA from George Washington University. A company member at the Antaeus Theatre, she was most recently seen in Cloud 9 and was nominated for an Ovation Award and won a Backstage Award for her work in Top Girls.
CHRISTIAN PRENTICE is both a performer and a theatre patron, who has worked at Theatre @ Boston Court, the Sierra Madre Playhouse, Son of Semele, the Echo Theatre Company, Circle X, and Interact Theatre Company. Before moving to Los Angeles, he worked professionally in Cleveland, where he earned his BA in theatre from Kent State University.
VICKI SCHAIRER has directed a number of short films and is currently in development for a handful of new projects. She works as a television producer with credits on shows for Amazon Prime, TLC, the History Channel, and Fullscreen. She worked as a theatre director, production manager, and arts administrator in the greater Boston area prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2014.
DAPHNA SHULL was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, and received her bachelor’s degree in Media Production from Florida State University. After graduating in 2014, she headed west to pursue a career in screenwriting. Currently, Daphna works as a teacher’s assistant at Pressman Academy in Los Angeles and runs an after-school screenwriting class there for 3rd and 4th graders.
The team is also supported by JWT millennial staff and leadership:
ABBE MERYL FEDER, producer, is thrilled to have taken a leadership role with JWT after performing as an actress in several productions. Upon graduation from college, Abbe trained at American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Some credits include [film]: Sex Ed, Brahmin Bulls; and [TV] Las Vegas, Pushing Daisies, CSI:NY. She also served as director of operations at IKAR for five years.
MICHELLE ALTMAN, Braid Manager, is a BFA graduate of Drake University who has been directing, producing, writing, and performing in Chicago, where she worked with ShPIel, New Lincoln, New Millennium Theatre Company, and the Home for Wayward Artists. She was also co-founder and artistic director of Chicago’s Vanguardian Theatre Collective.
ALLYSON HIMELSTEIN, JWT Board Liaison, is the Career Services Advisor at USC’s Price School. Prior to returning to her home in Los Angeles, she worked in recruitment, higher education and hospitality in New York and New Hampshire. Allyson has her bachelor’s degree in Jewish Studies from Emory University and her Master’s in Clinical Social Work from Fordham University. Last year, she wrote her first piece for Jewish Women’s Theatre and was hooked ever since.
JWT aims to leave no Jewish story untold, while celebrating the truths that connect us all. At JWT’s home, The Braid Performance and Art Space in Santa Monica’s Bergamot Arts District, in intimate salons throughout Southern California, and on tour throughout the country – JWT stages and displays contemporary works that provide a forum and creative community hub for the development, performance and showcasing of diverse Jewish talent.