A Full Cup

ARTIST BIOS

NAOMI ACKERMAN (Writer/Performer: What’s In a Bag; Actor: Brenda, When Our Double D Cup Runneth Over, Woman 1, I Stood With My Satchel) received a BA from Hebrew University, teaching credentials from the David Yellin Teachers Seminar, and is a graduate of the prestigious Nissan Native Acting Studio. In Israel, Naomi participated in various multi-national theater productions with Arab and Jewish actors. She is one of the founding members of “View Points,” an Arab-Jewish theater group promoting tolerance and dialogue, sponsored by The Peres Center for Peace. Naomi wrote, directed, and performed the acclaimed one-woman show Flowers Aren’t Enough, which has been performed over 1200 times globally including the United Nations in honor of International Woman’s Day. Naomi is the founder/director of The Advot Project (Advot is Hebrew for ripples), a registered 501(c) 3 that uses theater to facilitate social change.
MICHELLE AZAR (Actor: Lois, When Our Double-D Cup Runneth Over/ Mahtle, I Stood With My Satchel) received her BFA in Acting and also her MA in Drama Therapy from The Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. She has worked as an actress and singer all over the country since an early age, including credits such as Janis Joplin in Beehive, Hodel in Fiddler On The Roof, and Bella in Lost In Yonkers for La Mirada Theatre. Michelle served as the Producing Director for the Neurotic Young Urbanites’ Theatre Company, where she won many Backstage awards for both original and scripted works. Recent television credits include 90210, Community, and Prime Suspect with Maria Bello. She is a happily married rebbetzin and mom of two fantastic Jewish women in training.
MAIA DANZIGER (Actor: Rose/Raisel, I Stood With My Satchel) is a writer and Emmy Award-winning actress who has appeared extensively on and off-Broadway, on television, and in film. She is a founder and former Artistic Director of the Actor’s Company Theatre in New York, a Founding Member of Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles, and the author of Relax & Write: tapping your unconscious for life and art. A Certified Life Coach, Maia specializes in working with artists on developing their creativity and fulfilling their careers.
SHARON EISMAN (Technical Producer) is an actress and voice over artist. Originally from the East Coast, she has performed all over the Tri-State Area including the Hangar Theater and the McCarter Theater as well as originating roles with cult companies like Vampire Cowboys in New York City. She has also been seen in classic New York televisions shows such as One Life To Live, Law and Order and a few Comedy Central gems. www.sharoneisman.com.
SHIRA FOX (Singer: For Good) is the daughter of two Los Angeles cantors. Shira has served as Cantor of Temple Rodeph Shalom and at Temple Beth El. Her theatrical credits include lead roles in Lil Abner and Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She is an alumnus of Brandeis University, and currently acts as B’nai MitzvahTeacher and Program Coordinator at Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation. Shira also serves as a Cantor at Beit T’Shuvah, Los Angeles’ primary Jewish Rehabilitation Facility.
LEAH KORNFELD FRIEDMAN (Writer: I Stood With My Satchel) received her MFA from Brooklyn College and has been a lecturer at Smith College, SUNY Albany, and Brooklyn College. In addition to 3 Yaddo Fellowships, Leah was a playwright-in-residence at the University of Pittsburgh, and has won numerous awards, including The New York Foundation for the Arts Playwrights Fellowship and the National Foundation For Jewish Culture Playwrights Award. Her plays have been produced at The American Jewish Theatre, Theatre for the New City, National Jewish Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, and The Gaslamp Quarter Theatre among others. Her soon to be released screenplay, Should’ve Been Romeo, features Ed Asner, Carol Kane, Paul Ben-Victor and Michael Rappaport.
ARVA ROSE (Actor: Toda) started acting in college. Her first part was at age 19 as Shirley Kaplan in Elmer Rice’s Street Scene. While in graduate school at Brandeis University, she played Bessie Berger in Clifford Odet’s Awake and Sing for the American Jewish Theater. Thirty years later, she became a frequent performer at The Jewish Woman’s Theatre Project, later known as The Jewish Woman’s Theatre. She recently played the role of Ida Kantor in Crossing Delancey and has been seen on LA Law, Hill Street Blues, Night Court, Hell Town and in regional theaters, Off-Off Broadway, TV movies, soap operas and waiver theater. But it was always the Jewish works she loved most and did best. Arva is also on the board for CYCL, The California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language. She has an upcoming show of contemporary and classic Yiddish music with performer Cindy Paley.
ERIC SCHWARTZ (Musician/Singer: Grandma’s Hands) Eric Schwartz might be the only artist in history to get rave reviews from both Gloria Steinem and Hustler magazine. Award-winning (ISC, JPF) tickler of taboos and deceptively legit, Schwartz plays folk festivals, comedy clubs, and everything in between. Most recently associated with Paul Provenza’s Satiristas crew, Eric’s recent appearances include The Improv, Largo, The Comedy Store, The Skirball Center, Howard Stern 100, NPR’s All Things Considered and Air America.
RONDA SPINAK (Producer) is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Jewish Women’s theatre. She originated the popular At-Homes Salon Theatre series, in which she creates Jewish themed shows. She has written for the Emmy Award-winning children’s show, Rugrats, authored the critically acclaimed Non-fiction book ProBodX: Proper Body Exercise (HarperCollins, publisher), and written many plays, including Stories From the Fringe. She is currently producing a documentary film about women rabbis entitled, On the Fringe. Ronda is grateful for the many blessings that have come to her from working with Jewish women and the Jewish Women’s Theatre.
ELLEN SWITKES (Writer/Performer: Headstone) was founder/producer of Cornucopia, a personal storytelling show that ran for 3 years at Actors Workout Studio in North Hollywood. She is a board member of LA Story Works. For the past 5 years, she has volunteered with Koreh LA, the reading tutorial program of the Jewish Federation, working with children in LAUSD. Prior to entering the storytelling world, she worked on Entertainment Tonight and The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, National Jewish Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, and The Gaslamp Quarter Theatre among others. Her soon to be released screenplay, Should’ve Been Romeo, features Ed Asner, Carol Kane, Paul Ben-Victor and Michael Rappaport.
WENDY HAMMERS (Writer/Performer: Grandma’s Hands) loves to act. And act up. So far she has confused Tony on The Sopranos; annoyed Larry David on Curb your Enthusiasm, and frustrated Paul Reiser on Mad About You. She co-hosted 26 episodes of a cooking show on the Jewish television network called New Jewish Cuisine. As a comic, Wendy has teased Oprah Winfrey in the daytime and has been featured on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS. Wendy also hosts a spoken word salon, which she created, on the westside called Tasty Words, now in it’s 11th smash year. Her book, Tous Mesregimes.com was published by Marabout Press. Her latest solo show, RIPE, opens in LA in March, before she takes it to NY in the fall. Wendy also coaches writer/performers in her Write at Home™ classes in LA and privately. Please visit www.wendyhammers.com.
RABBI MIRIAM HAMRELL (Writer: Toda) was born and raised in Israel, and now leads the American congregation Ahavat Torah in Brentwood. Her unusual congregation is Conservative, Reform, and Hasidic. Rabbi Miriam has been featured in multiple publications including the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, with articles highlighting her Jewish ethics classes and activities for both Jewish and Interfaith communities. She was the invited keynote speaker at an International Women’s Conference in Serbia and gave a featured address at an International Woman’s Forum in Bosnia. She has met with international Moslem leaders and discussed interfaith and women’s issues. In November 2011 Rabbi Miriam was hosted by the American Embassy of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and was Ambassador of Good Will to this Muslim country. For Rabbi Hamrell, being a Congregational Rabbi, sharing her love of Judaism, supporting and counseling members inside and outside her fabulous community is her lifetime dream come true.
ANNIE KORZEN (Writer/Performer: My Fifteen Minutes; Actor: Yael, When Our Double D Cup Runneth Over) has done humorous essays for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Jewish Journal, NPR’s Morning Edition, The Moth, and many more. Annie was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, having suggested the topic: “Ethnic Men Who Reject Their Own Women.” She is the author of Bargain Junkie: Living the Good Life on the Cheap. Annie was the recurring Doris Klompus on Seinfield, and recently played Jason Alexander’s sister in Neil Simon’s The Prisoner Of Second Avenue. Annie has performed her solo shows, Yenta Unplugged and The Yenta Cometh on three continents. For glowing reviews, enthusiastic testimonials, and hysterical clips from her solo shows and spoken word pieces, please visit www.anniekorzen.com.
ELLYN GERSH LERNER (Director) is a native Angeleno. She is a frequent respondent for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and has guided many plays through the development process. As a faculty member for the last ten years at California State University Northridge, Ellyn has taught theatre, humanities, freshman seminar and other interdisciplinary courses including “The Idea of Story”. Ellyn is a graduate of Occidental College, Ball State University and UCLA, where she earned her Ph.D. in theatre. Among the many plays she has directed are the off-Broadway premiere of The Pretender, William Inge’s Bus Stop at the University of Michigan, Sophocles’ Electra at the University of North Texas, and Lanford Wilson’s Book of Days at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.
LOIS LEVEEN (Writer: When Our Double-D Cup Runneth Over) is a Portland-based author and performer. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, the New York Times, onstage at PerformanceWorks Northwest and NPR’s LiveWire, and in film festivals around the country. Her first novel, The Secrets of Mary Bowser, is based on the true story of a free black woman who became a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War–by pretending to be a slave to the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Her book will be published by William Morrow in May 2012. www.loisleveen.com
WENDY COLMAN LEVIN (Actor: Woman 2, I Stood With My Satchel, Karyn, When Our Double-D Cup Runneth Over) is thrilled to be part of A Full Cup, her first show with JWT. Wendy was a Theater Arts major at Brandeis University, studied acting in London and has performed in a variety of plays, daytime series and television specials over the years. More recently she has done workshop work in and around LA and at her synagogue. Wendy, a mother of two, also has a PhD in Public Health and currently works with the Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness.
MONICA PIPER (Writer/Performer: Schmatitude) is an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer, stand up comedian and motivational speaker. She was nominated for an American Comedy Award as one of the top five female comedians in the country and starred in her own Showtime Network special, No, Monica, Just You. She has written for Roseanne, Mad About You and Veronica’s Closet and was the head writer of the beloved children’s animated series Rugrats, as well as writing shows for Disney and Cartoon Network. She is presently bringing her laugh-out-loud advice to corporate America, showing audiences everywhere how to “Find the Funny” in their lives. Please visit www.monicapiper.com.
RACHEL REICH (Singer: For Good) was born into what is truly an extraordinary family of cantors. Rachel recently became the 6th generation of cantors in her family when she accepted the position of Cantor at Temple Rodeph Shalom in El Segundo, California in 2009, carrying on the family tradition. After the passing of her grandfather, Rachel was included as part of the Reich Family Cantors 4, a series of concerts which include her mother and both of her uncles. She is currently a music major at California State University Northridge and is studying voice with Ms. Stephanie Vlahos who is both her mentor and teacher. Only 21, Rachel looks forward to widening her horizons even further.

THE PROGRAM

Produced by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Ellyn Gersh Lerner

Associate Producers: Susie Yure´

Welcome ~ Ronda Spinak, JWT Artistic Director

Toda — World Premiere
Written by Rabbi Miriam Hamrell
Performed by Naomi Ackerman and Arva Rose

Grandma’s Hands
Written and Performed by Wendy Hammers
Music and Lyrics by Bill Withers, Vocals/Guitar by Eric Schwartz

Headstone
Written and Performed by Ellen Switkes

I Stood With My Satchel — West Coast Premiere
Written by Leah Kornfeld Friedman, Performed by Naomi Ackerman, Michelle Azar, Maia Danzinger, Wendy Colman Levin

My Fifteen Minutes
Written and Performed by Annie Korzen

What’s In A Bag — World Premiere
Written and Performed by Naomi Ackerman

When Our Double-D Cup Runneth Over — Adapted From a Memoir
Written by Lois Leveen, Performed by Naomi Ackerman, Michelle Azar, Annie Korzen, Wendy Colman Levin

Schmatitude — A Commission of Jewish Women’s Theatre
Written and Performed by Monica Piper

What is Jewish Gratitude — World Premiere
A Short Film by Ronda Spinak

For Good
Lyrics & Music by Stephen Schwartz
Performed by Shira Fox and Rachel Reich

GALLERY

Delicious dessert as always!

A Standing Ovation for “A Full Cup”

Patrons at “A Full Cup”

Singer Rachel Reich and Marlene Cohen

Writer/Performers Ellen Switkes and Annie Korzen after the show

The Cast of “A Full Cup”

Singers Shira Fox and Rachel Reich perform a duet by Stephen Schwartz

Lois Leveen, Michelle Azar, Naomi Ackerman, Wendy Colman Levin & Annie Korzen

Comedian Monica Piper performs “Shmatitude”

Actress Naomi Ackerman performing “What’s In A Bag?”

Writer/Performer Annie Korzen in “My Fifteen Minutes”

Actresses Maia Danziger and Wendy Colman Levin in “I Stood WIth My Satchel” by Leah Kornfeld Friedman

Writer/performer Ellen Switkes in “Headstone”

Wendy Hammers  and Eric Schwartz perform “Grandma’s Hands”

Actress Arva Rose opens the show with “Toda” by Rabbi Miriam Hamrell

At Homes Salon Theatre A Full Cup January 29-February 1, 2012

Actress Naomi Ackerman before the show

Arts Council Member Gail Solo

Artistic Director Ronda Spinak introduces the show

Photos courtesy of Deborah Alexander