The Way Home

June 8-18, 2019

Whether searching for community, embracing shelter, grappling with tradition or venturing into the unknown, home is personal and powerful to us all. What does it mean, physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually, to find your way home?

PRESS

DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE HERE

THE PROGRAM

Produced by Andrew Fromer
Material Adapted & Curated by Daphna Shull, Ora Yashar & Chandler Turk
Directed by Aysha Wax, Julie Lanctot & Arnon Shorr
Co-Producers  Kyra Morling & Judith Goldstein
Artistic Director Ronda Spinak
Producing Director Susan Morgenstern
Managing Director
Sharon Landau
Consultant Tabby Refael
Associate Producers  Rose Ziff, Susie Yuré

This show is made possible with generous support from
the Department of Cultural Affairs of Los Angeles, Erwin Rautenberg Foundation,
Y&S Nazarian Initiative, a program of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
and Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, and Gail Solo.

Welcome – JWT Assistant Artistic Director Andrew Fromer

Shtetl & Poverty
Written by Alexander Nemser.  Performed by Aneesha Madhok, Sam Mandel, and Jasmine Curry.

Making A Home
Written by Marissa Tiamfook Gee.  Performed by Sionne Elise.

No Longer Home
Written by Tabby Refael.  Performed by Jasmine Curry and Sionne Elise.

Cyclone
Written by Nina Raynor.   Performed by Aneesha Madhok and Sam Mandel.

Nowhere to Go
Written by Joshua Reuben Silverstein.  Performed by Sam Mandel.

Alchemy
Written by Susan Baskin.  Performed by Jasmine Curry and Kyla Schoer.

Fusion
Written by Aneesha Madhok and Daphna Shull.  Performed by Aneesha Madhok.

Absolution
Written by Marc Shkurovich.  Performed by Sam Mandel.

Heavier Than Expected (Excerpted from Jennifer Liff’s memoir, currently in process
to be published in 2021)
Written by Jennifer Liff.  Performed by Jasmine Curry.

On My Way
Music and Lyrics by Daphna Shull.  Performed by Sionne Elise.

Owning Hearst Castle
Written by Deenah Vollmer.  Performed by Kyla Schoer, Jasmine Curry, and Sam Mandel.

Whales
Written by Cole Kazdin.  Performed by Sionne Elise, Sam Mandel, and Ensemble.

ARTIST BIOS

SUSAN BASKIN (Writer) wrote the Academy Award winning Film, Violet, and has written extensively for television and film. Her essays have been published in The Los Angeles Times Magazine and Los Angeles Magazine. Her piece, I, Citizen, was commissioned for the JWT’s 2018 Annual Fall Fundraiser. The Perfect Dive, Susan’s last piece for JWT, was performed in the It’s A Life salon show.

JASMINE CURRY (Actor) trained at New York University, Experimental Theatre Wing, and was a resident actor at Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Valley, PA. She studied improv and sketch writing with Groundlings Theatre and iO West. Jasmine has worked in educational theatre with Writers Room, California Weekly Explorer, and The Imagination Machine. Most recently she has appeared in Top Girls and Blood Wedding at Pierce College, as well as lending her voice to audiobooks and voice-over projects. She is currently co-authoring a book with her mother, inspired by their travel adventures in Ireland.

SIONNE ELISE (Actor) graduated magna cum laude from UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film, and Television and has been acting her heart out ever since. She was most recently seen on the LA stage as Tara in the world premiere of Showpony at the Victory Theatre Center, currently nominated for Best Play by the Valley Theatre Awards. Her film Patch of Grass was recently screened at the Noho CineFest, for which she acted, co-wrote, and co-produced. As one of the tribe, Sionne is more than excited to be a part of Jewish Women’s Theatre, telling incredible stories with incredible performers. Thank you and enjoy! IG: @sionneelise.

ANDREW FROMER (NEXT Producer & Program Facilitator/JWT Assistant Artistic Director), a Los Angeles native, grew up as an active member in the Jewish community through Stephen Wise Temple. He attended Windward School in Mar Vista, where his acting career began in plays and musicals. After completing his BFA in Theater at UC Santa Barbara, and an exciting year of living in Israel, Andrew took a dive into filmmaking and has since branched into production by helping prepare for distribution two feature films he has acted in: AMP Creative’s Highway to Havasu (dir. Jeff Janke) and Mockingbird Pictures’ The Sweet Life (dir. Rob Spera). Andrew also edits, directs, and is very excited to be coordinating this year’s iteration of NEXT @ The Braid. Find out more info at www.jewishwomenstheatre.org/next.

MARISSA TIAMFOOK GEE (Writer) grew up in Brooklyn, NY, with an Ashkenazi Jewish New York mother and a half black, half Chinese Catholic father from Trinidad. She has always been active in the Jewish community, from being on the board of the Jewish Multiracial Network (JMN) to volunteering with IKAR, her current spiritual home. Marissa is a lawyer, teacher, runner, coach, and an outdoor adventure enthusiast. She runs, climbs, and explores every mountain and hidden trail she can find. She has traveled the world, worked in health care in Uganda (volunteering through American Jewish World Service), taught English in Asia, was a legal intern at the UN in Geneva, studied abroad in Jerusalem and Amsterdam, and backpacked through the Pacific Rim, Australia, and Europe. She now has a more conventional life (although no less active!) and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

JUDITH GOLDSTEIN (NEXT Producer & Art Curator) Calling herself a modern-day gypsy,  Judith has lived in four countries, four states, and countless cities, absorbing the culture, art, and the food industry as a cook, food writer, and historian. In 2014, she graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences with a master’s in food culture and communications. In addition to her passion for gastronomy, Judith immerses herself in photography, writing, and dance. Her love and enthusiasm for art and food has always been the anchor that united her dynamic journey, and she hopes to bring her passion, world experience, and love for the humanities to the NEXT @ The Braid community.

COLE KAZDIN (Writer) is a writer, performer, and four-time Emmy-winning television journalist living in Los Angeles. She is a regular contributor to VICE, MEL Magazine, and Refinery29 and has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, and Cosmopolitan and has been featured on NPR. Cole tells stories live on The Moth’s Mainstage across the country, on The Moth Radio Hour, and she performs storytelling all over Los Angeles, where she is a proud three-time Moth GrandSLAM champion. She is a contributing author in the bestselling Moth book, All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown. She has produced television for HBO documentaries and ABC network news.  Cole is currently an instructor at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and coaches and teaches writers all over the world. www.colekazdin.com.

JULIE LANCTOT (NEXT Director & Marketing/Actor), a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television, has participated in the LA theater community as an actor and assistant director. Most recently, she played Rosaline in Chase What Flies’s production of Love’s Labor’s Lost and Isabella in Method and Madness’s production of Measure for Measure. Julie assistant-directed Dangerous Liaisons at Antaeus last fall and is currently assisting on a staged reading of the Jacobean tragedy Women Beware Women. Now dipping her toes into the world of writing, she is developing an original web series with some of her closest friends. Julie is enjoying the process of becoming a hyphenate and looks forward to continuing her journey with JWT.

JENNIFER LIFF (Writer) is a mid-thirties woman who’s finally sitting her butt down to write a memoir. Most of the year, she devotes her time to teaching squirrely middle school students. Aside from teaching and writing, Jen loves to travel, hike, ride her bike, do yoga, and spend time with friends and family. Although she has no cats, Jen has at times been called a crazy cat lady, as she has been known to meow at random.

JESSICA LUCK (Writer) has had work performed at Primary Stages, the Playground Experiment, ESPA, TinyRhino, Playwrights at the Grand, Red Caravan, and the Big Apple Theater Festival. Her short play, Lilies, was published by Smith & Kraus. Jessica is a graduate of Yale College and was a Louise Rockwell Scholar at ESPA/ Primary Stages. As an actor, she recently performed in the pre- mieres of Lisa Lampanelli’s Stuffed at the WP Theater and Gracie Gardner’s Hate Baby at EST. Jessica is a proud member of the Beehive Playwrights Collective and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. For perpetually out of date info on what she’s up to, check out JessicaLuck.com.

ANEESHA MADHOK (Actor/Writer), an actress and comedian known for the play Aliza-Free, graduated from University of Southern California in May 2018 and is making her Hollywood debut as the main lead in the feature film Bully High. She runs her own show called The Mad Hawk at Flappers Comedy Club along with doing stand-up comedy at various clubs in Los Angeles.

SAM MANDEL (Actor) is a SAG-AFTRA actor of 15+ years with 40 union film, TV, commercial, theatre, print, and voice-over credits. Recent noteworthy projects include an award-winning, critically acclaimed performance as lead actor in The Chosen, adapted by Aaron Posner from Chaim Potok’s novel. The show enjoyed a six-month sold-out run at the Fountain Theatre, earning the LA Times Critics Choice and an Ovation recommendation. Sam is Mr. July in the Nice Jewish Guys Calendar 2019, which can be purchased on Amazon and in stores nationwide. Ellen DeGeneres showcased the calendar on The Ellen Show, so Sam created a sketch with the other NJGs that Ellen named Video of the Week on EllenTube, earning 24,000 views in three days. Sam is grateful to Jewish Women’s Theatre for the opportunity to be part of The Way Home and thanks YOU for supporting live theatre. Learn more and connect at imdb.me/Sam-Mandel and www.SamMandel.com.

SUSAN MORGENSTERN (JWT Producing Director) began directing in college by staging musical theatre concert readings while co-teaching American Musical Comedy with Tom Lehrer at UC Santa Cruz. She went on to teach and direct at the renowned Stage Door Manor performing arts camp
in upstate New York. In Los Angeles, Susan has directed several shows at Theatre West, including Saturday Night at Grossinger’s, book by Stephen Cole, music by Claibe Richardson; and Barbara Nell Beery’s play, The Socialization of Ruthie Shapiro. At the Falcon/Garry Marshall Theatre, she directed Leap, by Arnold Margolin, Surviving Sex, by David Landsberg, and the hit comedy, The Psychic, by Sam Bobrick. Susan directed Happy Days, a New Musical, book by Garry Marshall, music/ lyrics by Paul Williams, at Cabrillo Music Theatre. She directed an extended-run production of Meryl Cohn’s comedy Reasons to Live at the Skylight Theatre. She co-authored and directed I’m Not Famous: A Musical Journey with Barbara Minkus, which had an extended 2017 run at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Susan also works as a consultant show director at Disneyland Parks and Resorts. She has directed numerous JWT salon shows, as well as Annie Korzen: Famous Actress, at JWT’s performance and art space, The Braid.

KYRA MORLING (NEXT Producer & Art Curator) is an actor, writer, and artist recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a BA in theater. She’s split her time between Los Angeles and New York City, working at the Hammer Museum, Gagosian Gallery, Royce Hall, Bowery Poetry Club, the Hole, and Marciano Art Foundation. As a performer, she trained with Atlantic Theater Company, Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Second City, and has been featured in both Hollywood and Edingburgh Fringe. Her heart lies with Project Nongenue, an LA-based theater company in which she was a founding member. Find out more at kyramorling.com.

ALEXANDER NEMSER (Writer) has been published in The New York Times and The Paris Review and has performed internationally, from the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan to the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka. His book, The Sacrifice of Abraham, was published by Bookieman in 2014, and his one-man show as a charlatan rabbi, Moshe Feldstein, Icon of Self-Realization, premiered at the NYC Fringe in 2011. He has facilitated workshops on Jewish storytelling at Limmud UK, Lab/Shul, American Jewish University, and NuRoots.

NINA RAYNOR (Writer) just completed her freshman year at Binghamton University in New York. Nina is majoring in English with a minor in art. In her spare time she paints, draws, and sculpts, in addition to mastering the art of skating to school in the frigid upstate NY weather. Nina currently resides in Great Neck, NY, with her parents and two brothers.

TABBY REFAEL (Writer) is a Los Angeles-based writer. Born in Iran after the revolution, she and her family were granted refugee asylum in the U.S. when Tabby was 7 years old. She formerly served as executive director and co-founder of 30 Years After, a non-profit which promotes civic action among young Iranian-American Jews, and has written for the Jewish Journal as well as for Los Angeles Magazine.

KYLA SCHOER (Actor) is honored to be joining JWT for another show. Originally from NYC, Kyla has a strong passion for acting, yoga, and avocados. www.aschoerthing.com.

MARC SHKUROVICH (Writer) recently graduated cum laude from Yale University with a BA in American studies. His senior project experimented with the genre of autofiction to explore questions of selfhood (all of them remain). Some of his journalism has appeared in Tablet Mag and the Yale Herald. Marc has moved back to his hometown of Encino, where, besides writing gigs, he’s also looking for pickup basketball games.

ARNON Z. SHORR (NEXT Marketing & Director) is an Israeli/American modern-Orthodox Jewish filmmaker who lives and works in Los Angeles. His award-winning shorts and features have screened in festivals around the world. His most recent short film about Jewish pirates, The Pirate Captain Toledano, an official selection at 48 film festivals and competitions, is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming on Amazon.com.

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.

JOSHUA REUBEN SILVERSTEIN (Writer) is an award-winning actor, comic, writer, beatboxer, and educator whose performances and productions throughout the country have prompted admiration from creative greats ranging from Norman Lear to Prince. For more than 20 years, Joshua has provided and facilitated theater, improvisation, and spoken-word workshops and in-school residencies designed to create a safe and open space for students of all ages to experience the freedom of creative expression. Joshua brings passion, play, and persuasion to make words, thinking, and expression infectiously fun. During the school year, Joshua serves as the cohost and co-producer of Emmy Award–winning Downbeat 720, a high school open-mic that has been a staple of Santa Monica for the last 16 years. Joshua also performs for The Late-Late Show with James Corden on the segment “Drop the Mic” and on the weekly stand-alone half- hour TNT series, Drop the Mic.

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.

CHANDLER TURK (NEXT Literary) is a writer for film, television, and theatre. He is currently the writers’ production assistant for Disney’s upcoming series High School Musical: The Musical, which will premiere on their new streaming service Disney+ in late 2019. Turk earned his BFA at NYU Tisch’s Department of Dramatic Writing in 2018. He has previously worked for the Inkwell Theater as the associate producer of Chickenheads (September 2018) and Journey to Alice (January 2018).

DEENAH VOLLMER (Writer) is a writer, poet, and performer. Her essays have been featured in N+1, The Believer, Guernica, VICE, december magazine, Popula, and other outlets. She is a former events writer for The New Yorker and blogger for Interview Magazine. In 2014, she toured the world singing about pizza with her band, The Pizza Underground. Before that, she lived in Berlin on a Fulbright for journalism. She has a

AYSHA WAX (NEXT Director & Marketing) is a writer, director, and comedian. She is fun, witty, and unintentionally the loudest person in the room. Aysha loves creating stories that are fun, festive, and feminist. Her webseries Wannabees, co-created by Marian Bruno, was sold to Fox Digital in 2014. Aysha has also had her sketches featured on Buzzfeed, Funnyordie, Wifey TV, and WhoHaHa. Aysha has performed improv and sketch around Los Angeles at iO West, the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Westside Comedy Theater, the Pach Theater, and the Groundlings. Aysha also spent eight years teaching Hebrew school around Los Angeles, which inspired her one-woman show Hebrew School Horror that she toured around LA and NYC. When Aysha is not creating things, she moonlights as a dating consultant with her partner Rebecca Leib. Their dating classes are known as “Feeling It” dating. Aysha can help you level up dating wise while enjoying the process and maybe finding a partner. In essence, Aysha is here to make your life a little better and more fun!

ORA YASHAR (NEXT Literary) is the showrunner’s assistant on the Netflix series ATYPICAL, a show that empathetically and humorously explores what it means to be “normal.” Further nourishing her love of storytelling is Ora’s ongoing involvement as a script consultant for Sundance’s Episodic Lab. Through a collaboration with Women in Film, Ora wrote an Emmy-nominated PSA for the Santa Monica Museum of Art and directed a 2x Telly Award-winning PSA for the ALS Association. Her short script, ICE CREAM, was a 2017 Austin Film Festival semi-finalist, Kansas City Film Fest finalist, and a 2018 Screencraft Film Fund semi-finalist. In order to say thank you to all those who have come before, Ora enjoys volunteering at the Motion Picture and TV Fund, which supports the aging entertainment community in living with dignity and purpose. She earned her MFA in directing from Chapman University.

SUSIE YURÉ  (Director of Community Engagement/Associate Producer) has proudly worked with JWT for ten years. She has volunteered in nonprofit 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 (where she met her husband), along with her California lifetime teaching credential. Her favorite role is as mom to her two children and recently Grammy to two grandsons.

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.