Crossing Our Red Sea

March 10 – April 7, 2018

A dozen original stories that transform the Passover story of Exodus into contemporary theatre.

Check out below one of the favorite pieces from the show, Dayenu Remix!

DAYENU REMIX
Written by Shawn Goodman
Adapted by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Eve Brandstein
The piece originally performed by:
Tiffany Mualem
with AJ Meijer, Melanie Chartoff and Kate Zentall
From JWT’S CROSSING OUR RED SEA
March 2018 At-Homes Salon Theatre

Want to include the text in your next Passover Seder? 
Click here for a printable PDF download

PRESS

DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE HERE

THE PROGRAM

Adapted, curated and produced by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Eve Brandstein
South Bay Producer Liz Altman
SF Bay Area Producer Carol Kirsh
Literary Manager Suzanna Kaplan
Dramaturge Lisa Rosenbaum
Assistant Producer/Stage Manager Barbara Koletsky
Associate Producers Susie Yuré and Rose Ziff
Artistic Director Ronda Spinak
Artistic Associate Daphna Shull

In loving memory of Bert Krasnoff
Generously underwritten by Sheila Krasnoff and Elizabeth & Darell Krasnoff

Crossing the Red (Communist) Sea
Written by Natasha Basley.  Performed by AJ Meijer.

A Blight to Remember – A commission of Jewish Women’s Theatre
Written by Shelly Goldstein.  Performed by Kate Zentall.

The Third Plague
Written by Renee Moilanen.  Performed by Tiffany Mualem. 

Am-ree-kah –Adapted from the Genetic Jitters, a Memoir
Written by Esther Amini.  Performed by Kate Zentall.

First Born Son and The Second Born Daughter – A Commission of Jewish Women’s Theatre
Written by Gail Israel.  Performed by Melanie Chartoff. 

God Dog – A Commission of Jewish Women’s Theatre
Written by Robin Russin.  Performed by AJ Meijer, Kate Zentall and Tiffany Mualem.

Indecent Sexposure
Written and performed by Melanie Chartoff and ensemble.

The Most Romantic Day of My Life.
Written by Hank Kimmel.  Performed by AJ Meijer.

A Journey With No Easy End
Written by Janet Madden.  Performed by Melanie Chartoff, Kate Zentall and Tiffany Mualem.

In Order
Written by Barbara Blank.  Performed by Tiffany Mualem and AJ Meijer.

Kol Ha’olam Kulo
Music by B. Chait.  Text by R. Nachman of Bratslav.  Performed by Tiffany Mualem and AJ Meijer.

Out of Hiding – First Appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine – adaption a commission of Jewish Women’s Theatre
Written by Susan Baskin.  Performed by Kate Zentall, Melanie Chartoff and AJ Meijer.

Dayeinu Remix
Written by Shawn Goodman.  Performed by Tiffany Mualem and ensemble.

ARTIST BIOS

LIZ ALTMAN (South Bay Producer) wrote “Almost a Sacrifice,” previously performed at the JWT salon Unknown Stories of Biblical Proportions. Other credits include song lyrics for activities at the University of Michigan and the Dallas Bar Follies; and co-directing, co-writing, and performing in the annual SMU law school follies. JWT: Advisory board member and South Bay producer. Professional: vice president of a real estate company. Hobbies: tennis, art, and travel. Special love to her muse, Louis.

ESTHER AMINI (Writer) is an author and a psychoanalytic psychotherapist whose writings have appeared in Elle Magazine, Tablet, The Jewish Week, Barnard Magazine, Inscape Literary Magazine, Proximity Magazine, and Lilith. Six of her stories have been performed in Los Angeles by Jewish Women’s Theatre, and two were staged at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan in the show Saffron and Rosewater. She was recently awarded the Aspen Words – 2016 Emerging Writer Fellowship. Ms. Amini lives in Manhattan and is on the faculty of the New York School for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is currently writing a memoir about growing up first-generation American in an Iranian/Jewish home in Queens. To stay updated, follow Esther Amini on Facebook.

SUSAN BASKIN (Writer) wrote the Academy Award–winning film Violet and has also written extensively for television and film. Her credits include Remington Steele, Dynasty, and numerous television movies. Her essays have been published in The Los Angeles Times Magazine, West, and Los Angeles Magazine, and she is currently working on a novel.

NATASHA M. BASLEY (Writer) is a short-story writer who has worked in international affairs for more than a decade while continuing to dabble in the arts. Singing in the Peace Child Honor Choir of Los Angeles took her to a Soviet pioneer camp in the 1980s in Yalta, where kids from the US and USSR performed a joint musical production. She also performed as an actor in Nancy Keystone’s award-winning The Akhmatova Project and Bill Viola’s internationally acclaimed series, The Passions. When living in Nepal, Ms. Basley worked with the Kasthamandap Modern Art Collective to produce a fashion show entitled Wearable Art. Her travel stories recently appeared on KCRW’s Press Play with Madeleine Brand. Ms. Basley is now working on a screenplay about her adventures around the world. She would like to dedicate Crossing the Red (Communist) Sea to the memory of her dear friend and mentor, Gene Rothman.

BARBARA TRAININ BLANK (Writer), an arts previewer/reviewer, turned to playwriting in 2000. Her debut piece, Honeymoon: Hit or Miss, was featured in a festival at Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg. Several other short works received staged readings in such venues as Theatre Ariel, Jewish Writers’ Roundtable, Cicada Festival, Hershey Area Playhouse, Carlisle Theatre, as well as Jewish Women’s Theatre. Gretna Theatre, a professional venue, produced two of her original full-length children’s musicals, Rumpelstiltskin and the Funny Kid and Meet Me Where, Dorothella?, with music by Lindy Mack. Stolen Vows won honorable mention (2015) in the New Works of Merit competition; Gamut Theatre Group included Haircuts in a festival about Shakespeare’s female characters; and the Art Age Senior Theatre catalogue published How to Marry the Rabbi. Currently, Trainin Blank is collaborating on a history-based play about Herschel Grynszpan.

 

MELANIE CHARTOFF (Writer/Actress) invents stories and characters for the page, stage, and screen. Best known for running roles on series such as ABC’s late-night comedy show Fridays, The Newhart Show, Seinfeld, Wiseguy, Rugrats, and Weird Science, she currently voices characters on OK KO on the Cartoon Network. She starred in the West Coast premieres of NY hits March of the Falsettos, Big River, Beyond Therapy, and as Dot in Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. She’s featured in the new edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Crazy Family. Melanie often writes for Funny Times, Purple CloverThe Huffington Post, and the Jewish Journal. She hails from the East Coast stages of Long Wharf Theater, Yale University, and on and off Broadway in shows such as Scapino and the improvised musical revue The Proposition. In her classes and coaching, she helps shyer types develop charismatic personae.

EVE BRANDSTEIN (Director) has been a major-studio executive, producer, director, writer/creator, and casting director. After writing and directing plays in New York she came to Los Angeles to direct two of her scripts for AFI’s Directing Women’s Workshop, then worked with Norman Lear on and off for the next three decades as a producer, director, writer, and casting director. Eve is the director of the recent long-running hit shows Not That Jewish with Monica Piper and Rain Pryor’s Fried Chicken & Latkes. She has directed more than 75 theatrical productions on both coasts and Israel, most recently the Off-Broadway two-year hit Shut Up Sit Down & Eat, the NY premiere of Voices of Swords, and the NY and LA premieres of Revisiting Wildfire. She has directed many JWT salon theater productions as well as contributed work as a writer and artist. In 2018 she will be directing a new play, Anne Frank’s Diary, for the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. Also in the works are two documentaries: The Rock & Roll Project – Beyond the Myth and The Girl in the Room.

SHELLY GOLDSTEIN (Writer) has written for every genre of TV, film, and stage, and her one-woman shows have played to sell-out crowds throughout the US and UK. She co-starred with Sir Derek Jacobi and Vanessa Redgrave in the British film The Riddle and in the Irish film Assault of Darkness. She has written or punched up sitcoms, dramas, films, lyrics, award shows, jokes, and special material for such artists as Steve Martin, Barbra Streisand, Justin Timberlake, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Yoko Ono. She wrote the disco musical Last Dance, which work-shopped on Broadway, and directed the critically acclaimed hit comedy The Vic & Paul Show in LA and Chicago. Her new musical, Lobster Boy, was chosen by ASCAP and Stephen Schwartz to showcase at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and she wrote the PBS special Chicago Voices, which was nominated for five Chicago Emmy Awards. Among her prouder achievements: recently winning the New Yorker Caption Contest!

SHAWN GOODMAN (Writer) has published two self-help books and written articles for major women’s magazines, and celebrates the JWT voice and venue. She is a practicing Jew in LA, still figuring out the legal time allowed between cheese and meat in the diaspora, Pacific Standard Time.

GAIL ISRAEL (Writer) has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Hamline University. Her adult poems and short stories have been recognized for distinction by New Millennium Writings and Writer’s Digest. Her poem “Gidget Gets Old” was recently selected for one of Writer’s Digest top awards. Gail has written several picture books and two novels for young adults and is a long-standing member of Barbara Bottner’s master class for writers. Her love of writing began in the second grade with her unexpectedly poignant short story “The Very Lonely Latke.”  Gail currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Bob, and has two amazing adult children, Jesse and Raychel.

HENRY (Hank) W. KIMMEL (Writer) is a founding member and board president of Working Title Playwrights, an Atlanta-based theater company dedicated to the development of playwrights and new plays. He also serves on the boards for the Alliance for Jewish Theatre and the Hebrew Benevolent Temple (Atlanta). His full-length Confessions of a Hit Man, about the first reunion of two ex-football players after one permanently paralyzed the other, received a developmental grant through the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Hank is a graduate of Brown University and the Emory School of Law. 

CAROL KIRSH (SF Bay Producer) has worked, volunteered, and served on boards for a range of social services agencies since receiving her BA and MSW from the University of Michigan. She also spent eight years in Hong Kong working as an executive search consultant for Russell Reynolds and Norman Broadbent, two leading international search firms. Carol produces Jewish Women’s Theater in the Bay Area, where she hosted its first “at home” salon in San Francisco in 2012. A native Floridian with family roots in Alabama, Carol has continued the Diaspora, living much of her adult life outside of the continental United States, including Bali, Guam, and Hawaii.

BARBARA KOLETSKY (Assistant Producer/Stage Manager) worked as a production associate and costumer for the last six months on the production of Not That Jewish in New York at New World Stages. For 16 months prior to that she participated in the Los Angeles production of Not That Jewish as an assistant producer/stage manager. She has been with Jewish Women’s Theatre for eight years, working in many capacities on the At-Homes Salon series as assistant producer, stage manager, and culinary arts maven. Barbara also served as president and principal designer for the special events company R.S.V.P. Barbara started her career in marketing and promotions at Polygram Records.

JANET MADDEN (Writer) earned her PhD in 19th-century literature from the National University of Ireland and has been a Fulbright scholar and three-time Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She received rabbinic ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion-California. A poet, essayist, and ritualist who has been widely published in the US and abroad, she serves as rabbi of Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica and as visiting rabbi of the Oahu Jewish Ohana (Honolulu). She and her husband share their home with a dog and two cats and their backyard with eight chickens.

AJ MEIJER (Actor), a newly minted artist-in-residence with JWT, recently appeared as Elias Kattan in the season 8 premiere of NCIS: LA. Prior to that he made his New York theater debut in the original cast of the smash hit Heathers: The Musical. Film: All About Nina (with Common and Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Life Partners (with Adam Brody and Leighton Meester), Broken Horses (with Vincent D’Onfrio and Anton Yelchin). He co-founded Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble and was seen in their productions of The War Cycle (Ovation Award nomination). Regional: Lennie in Of Mice and Men at TheatreWorks, Silicon Valley; All About Gordon at the Ahmanson; Getty Center with the National Theatre of Greece; Tug of War at the Getty Villa. AJ is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television. He also co-hosts the weekly industry-focused podcast “Inside Acting.” Learn more at www.insideacting.net.

RENEE MOILANEN (Writer) is a Los Angeles–based writer and former newspaper reporter whose work has appeared in publications across the country. She writes the South Bay parenting column for the Southern California Newspaper Group and authored the book How Big Is a Placenta Bowl? And Other Weird Questions You’ll Ask When Planning a Home Birth. She made her JWT debut in last season’s The Matzo Ball Diaries with her piece “The Secret to Brisket” and is thrilled to be back. Renee lives in Redondo Beach with her husband and two young boys.

TIFFANY MUALEM (Actor), a Jersey native, began her performing career training classically as a singer and performing in musicals. Later she trained at the William Esper Studio in NYC, where she graduated from their two-year intensive Meisner program. She’s currently training at UCB and performing with her beloved indie comedy improv teams Shazaam! and Cold Tofu. Credits include local and regional commercials, features, and short films. Tiffany was happy to be part of the salon More Courage with JWT last year and recently performed in Coeurage Theatre Company’s production of Secret in the Wings. Tiffany stars as the leading lady Sam in The Frame, a mind-bending feature film written and directed by mastermind Jamin Winans, released worldwide and available on Amazon Prime. Tiffany is grateful and thrilled to be back with JWT! [Insert smiley-face and heart here!]

LISA PEARL ROSENBAUM (Dramaturge/Programming Director of The Braid) is the author of the novel A Day of Small Beginnings (Little, Brown & Co. 2006) and has just completed a new novel, Sacrificial Man, an intimate story of betrayal and archaeology from the fear-filled days of the 1950s blacklist. Lisa lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband, Walt Lipsman. They have two daughters.

ROBIN RUSSIN (Writer), a professor in the Department of Theatre, Film & Digital Production at the University of California, Riverside, has written, produced, and directed for film, TV, and the theater, including On Deadly Ground, America’s Most Wanted, and ABC’s Vital Signs. Robin is co-author of the books Screenplay: Writing the Picture and Naked Playwriting. His stories, articles, and reviews have appeared in a wide range of publications. A Rhodes Scholar, he has degrees from Harvard, Oxford, RISD, and UCLA. His play, The Face in the Reeds, premiered in a four-month run at the Ruskin Group Theatre, where he initiated and leads a playwriting workshop. His one-hour pilot, Beloved, was adapted into the ABC series Of Kings and Prophets. Robin directed the feature film When I Sing, which premieres as a People’s Choice nominee at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival in Los Angeles.

DAPHNA SHULL (Artistic Associate) is a two-time NEXT Arts Council Fellow, literary manager, and writer, born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She 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 and the arts. Today Daphna works as a museum educator for the Zimmer Children’s Museum and recently joined the JWT staff.

RONDA SPINAK (Producer/JWT Artistic Director) created and produces JWT’s At-Homes Salon Theatre Series, now in its 10th season. She has curated more than 35 original Jewish-themed salon shows for JWT, as well as adapted many of the pieces performed. Spinak developed and produced Not That Jewish, which ran for 16 months, garnered an LA Drama Critics Circle nomination, and ran Off-Broadway for more than 200 performances!  Spinak co-wrote Stories from the Fringe, putting the stories of women rabbis on stage for the first time.

Since then, 150 national and international women rabbis have been interviewed, and in partnership with Jewish Women’s Archive have made many of the interviews available online at www.jwa.org. Spinak wrote for Rugrats, and her plays include Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite at the Ashland New Play Festival. Spinak has served as a grant reviewer for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, is on the board of the Alliance for Jewish Theatres, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. She feels blessed to be working with the many inspiring women who give so generously to Jewish Women’s Theatre. www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.

SUSIE YURÉ (JWT’s Director of Community Engagement/Associate Producer) has proudly worked with JWT for 7 years. She has volunteered in non-profit organizations, in which she has held leadership roles in fundraising, event planning, facilities coordinating, programming, membership, marketing, and administration. Susie has produced musical theatre productions, classical concerts, and cabaret performances. She holds a BA and MA in elementary education from USC, along with her California lifetime teaching credential. While at USC, she met her husband. Her favorite role is as mom to her two children and recently as a grandmother.

KATE ZENTALL (Actor) is proud to be an artist-in-residence at JWT, where she has appeared in something like 14 different shows. She has performed in many NYC venues, including the Public Theater, Guggenheim Museum, and Carnegie Hall. In LA, there’s been lots of Shakespeare, Irish plays, English comedies, and modern dramas, at the Taper and other companies around town, as well as movies and commercials plus a good deal of network TV, from series regular on Studio 5B to a recurring role on Hunter to guest spots on Cheers, Lou Grant, It’s a Living, Becker, LA Law, and many more. In recent years she has been a writer, communications manager, and editor — for magazines, books, blogs, websites, and JWT.

ROSE ZIFF (Special Projects Manager/Associate Producer) came out of retirement to work for JWT after working at UCLA Medical Center for 33 years, where she functioned as “den mother” to more than 1000 interns, residents, and clinical fellows at UCLA, the VA, and Olive View-UCLA Medical Centers, providing resources and support. Rose is currently serving on the board of directors for Lev Eisha, a Jewish women’s non-profit religious organization and spiritual community. Her hobbies include gardening, visiting Providence St. Johns Health Center with her therapy dog, and hosting a monthly book club.

GALLERY

Daphna Shull at check in

Crossing Our Red Sea art exhibit on display before the show

 

 

Patron viewing interactive exhibit

Patron participating in interactive art exhibit

Cast opens the show with “Go Down Moses”

AJ Meijer remembers life in the Soviet Union, in Natasha Basley’s “Crossing the Red (Communist) Sea”

Kate Zentall performs Shelly Goldstein’s “A Blight to Remember”

Tiffany Mualem deals with her child’s head lice in “The Third Plague,” written by Renee Moilanen

Melanie Chartoff performs her own piece, “Indecent Sexposure”

Kate Zentall, Tiffany Mualem, Melanie Chartoff

Photos by Sally Hughes