AHA! Moment – Live on Zoom

Powerful and humorous stories of the moment when you “just knew” life was about to change.
January 9, 10, 14, & 18, 2021

PRESS

DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE HERE

THE PROGRAM

Material Adapted, Curated & Produced by Ronda Spinak, Artistic Director
Directed by  Lisa Cirincione
Producing Director Susan Morgenstern
Assistant Artistic Director Andrew Fromer
Literary Consultant Suzanna Kaplan
Creative Associate Daphna Shull 
Associate Producers Rose Ziff, Susie Yuré 
Stage Manager Amanda Horowitz  

WELCOME Ronda Spinak, The Braid Co-Founder and Artistic  Director

THE PROGRAM

Breaking Up is Hard to Do
Written by Maureen Rubin.  Performed by Vicki Juditz and Dion Mucciacito.

Shake Rattle and Roll
Written by Suzanne Cane.  Performed by Lisa Cirincione.

The First Stranger – Adapted from The Poetry of Strangers  (Harper Perennial, 2020)
Written by Brian Sonia-Wallace.  Performed by Dion Mucciacito.

Pretty in Pink
Written by Sohaila Zivari.  Performed by Brianna Martinez Gurdzhyan.

Give Me Strength
Music and lyrics by Ali Blake.  Performed by Lisa Cirincione.

Shiksa
Written by Susan Baskin.  Performed by Vicki Juditz, Lisa Cirincione, Brianna Martinez Gurdzhyan, and Dion Mucciacito.

The Run Adapted from I’m Not Really A Waitress (Seal Press, 2019) 
Written by Suzi Weiss-Fischmann.  Performed by Lisa Cirincione.

Dinner Table
Written by David Masello.  Performed by Dion Mucciacito and Vicki Juditz.

Prayer Adapted from an interview by Ronda Spinak
Written by Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh.  Performed by Lisa Cirincione.

Can I Feel More Free During Covid?
Written by Emma Peretz.  Performed by Brianna Martinez Gurdzhyan.

Getting What You Want Before You Forget What It Is
Written and performed by Judy Carter.

Gun World
Written and performed by Vicki Juditz.

Goodnight, My What?
Written by Susan Morgenstern.  Performed by Lisa Cirincione and Dion Mucciacito.

ARTIST BIOS

SUSAN BASKIN (Dramaturg) 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. Susan has written a number of pieces for JWT including “I, Citizen,” which was commissioned by Jewish Women’s Theatre. She is currently at work on a novel.

ALI BLAKE (Songwriter) is a soulful pop singer and songwriter from Chicago. Passionate about healing the world and connecting to her listeners through truth and vulnerability, Ali weaves an eclectic variety of sounds into her songs. Influenced by a wide range of artists from Etta James to Dolly Parton, her music is imbued with an ever-evolving, soulful nature. After performing in New York City, Atlanta, and Oakland, she moved to LA and has recently finished her newest album, Blood, with renowned producer and bassist John Avila and producer Anton Söder. She will go on tour performing Blood in its entirety once safety has been reestablished after the pandemic fades.

SUZANNE CANE (Writer) has lived in Mexico City for more than 54 years. She was born in Brooklyn before it became trendy and earned her BA and MA in English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. After teaching in the New York school system for four years, she went to Mexico City for a week, met her husband, and had four children. The marriage ended, but she stayed in Mexico, dealing with the language, an unfamiliar society, and earthquakes, since Mexico City had become her home. She spent many years teaching social studies at the American School Foundation while writing articles on Mexican culture and eventually a novel, Gringa, which deals with an American woman who takes on the challenges of life in Mexico. You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AN99CQ6.

JUDY CARTER (Writer/Actor) Judy grew up with the perfect career for launching a comedy career: childhood speech impediment, alcoholic father, disabled sister and depression. She had to be funny… or die. At 8 years old, she became a young entrepreneur doing magic shows for birthday parties. She went on to became the first woman to perform at the Magic Castle in Hollywood and became a stand-up comic appearing on over 100 TV shows. Reinventing herself as an author, she was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and keynoted for hundreds of corporations on the power of humor to heal.  She doesn’t like to brag, but she did write the Bible. No joke, she’s the author of The Comedy Bible (Simon & Schuster), The Message of You: Turn Your Life Story into a Money-Making Speaking Career (St. Martin’s Press), and The NEW Comedy Bible, which has been translated into 6 languages.

LISA CIRINCIONE (Director/Actor) is a very proud Abby Freeman Artist-in-Residence with The Braid, both acting and directing with the company.   Lisa has performed in numerous productions with The Braid, including Saffron and Rosewater and Uncuffed.  You can most recently see her on the small screen in the FOX TV show, 9-1-1, Spectrum’s L.A.’s Finest and on Direct TV in the short film Porcupine, which she both stars in and produced.  Lisa received LA WEEKLY and LA Drama Critic’s Circle nominations for playing the role of Catherine in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge and received her BFA in acting from USC.  Most important role to date – becoming mama to daughter Sophia Rosa Giovanna.

ANDREW FROMER (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 career as an actor began in the school plays and musicals. After completing his BFA in theater at
UC Santa Barbara and an exciting year of living in Israel, Andrew returned to LA for acting and producing. His TV credits include Never Have I Ever (Netflix) and Anger Management (FX); feature film credits include Highway to Havasu (Billy/Producer) and The Sweet Life (Mike/Assistant to Production). Andrew also edits and directs and is excited to be coordinating this year’s iteration of NEXT @ The Braid, JWT’s Emerging Artists Fellowship. Find out more info at www.jewishwomenstheatre.org/next. Andrew also serves as Teen Engagement Coordinator and Communications Manager for congregation Or Ami in Calabasas.

is passionate about helping tell impactful and entertaining stories and has been exploring her craft in Los Angeles for several years. She has appeared in ABC’s Trophy Wife and has often performed with the LA-based theatre company Scribe Stages. This is Brianna’s first time working with The Braid, and she’s delighted to partake in conveying the pieces of such expressive writers. When she isn’t performing, Brianna loves exploring national parks, as well as expanding her painting and digital art skills.

AMANDA HOROWITZ (Stage Manager) wants to spend her life organizing and creating new theater. She recently graduated with bachelor’s degrees in theater and math from the University of Alabama, where she stage managed and assistant stage managed eight shows in the theater department. She most recently directed a thirty-minute play as part of a new-works play festival in North Hollywood. She hopes someday to be able to run her own theater company dedicated to producing emerging theater and providing other young adults with their first paid opportunities in the arts. She is thankful
to The Braid for providing her first step toward her professional career. 

VICKI JUDITZ (Writer/Actor) has performed her original stories at theaters and festivals across the country, including The National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN.  A veteran of many Braid salons, Vicki had the privilege of presenting her solo show, Sacred Resistance, at the Braid.  Her story Swing Dancing aired on The Moth Radio Hour and Boca was featured on KCRW’s UnFictional.

DAVID MASELLO (Writer) is a widely-published essayist, feature writer, poet, and playwright. A longtime magazine editor and writer, having held senior editorial positions at Town & Country, Art & Antiques, Travel & Leisure, and other periodicals, he is currently executive editor of Milieu, a magazine about design. Prior to his magazine work, he was a nonfiction editor at Simon and Schuster and has authored two books about architecture and art. His essays and features have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, including the New York Times and Best American Essays. His plays have been produced by Chelsea Repertory, AND Theatre Company, Manhattan Repertory Theatre, and the National Arts Club. He is an active participant in Read650.org, a live-essay reading series. He teaches a course at Sarah Lawrence College on the subject of writing about art. Although Manhattan is where he lives and works, he comes from Evanston, Illinois, which will always feel like home.

SUSAN MORGENSTERN (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, and most recently,  Annie Korzen: Famous Actress, at JWT’s performance and art space, The Braid.

DION MUCCIACITO (Actor) The Cherry Orchard (Lake Lucille Chekhov Project), TheTale, (Theater for a New Audience), Romeo and Juliet (Classic Stage Company), Golden Boy (Lincoln Center), Napoli! (American Conservatory Theatre), Apple Cove (The Woman’s Project), The House of the Spirits (The Denver Center), The Sins of Sor Juana (The Goodman), Age of Iron (Classic Stage Company), Waiting for Lefty (Hero Theatre Company). Film and TV: Brawl in Cell Block 99, Black Site Delta, The Player, Day 39, Law and Order. Graduate of The Juilliard School. 

EMMA PERETZ (Writer) is originally from Los Angeles. Upon graduation from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with a BA in theatre and a minor in business, she continued to travel around the world, from the islands of Hawaii, where she farmed and worked  the land, to the mountains of Peru, where she taught English as a second language and delved into more of her spirituality. Emma continues to do the things she loves—writing, working with children, singing and dancing, and cultivating a spiritual practice and a life of harmony and bliss, whether she’s at home in L.A. or traveling around the world!

RABBI TARLAN RABIZADEH (Writer) was born and raised in Los Angeles’ Jewish Persian community. She earned a BA from Boston University, where she studied public policy, education, and Hebrew, and she received her MA in Jewish education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College-JIR in LA. During her time pursuing rabbinic ordination at HUC’s New York campus, she worked at Congregation Emanu-El in New York City and served as student rabbi of small-town congregations in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. She received her second MA in Hebrew literature and was ordained at HUC upon completing her thesis, the trilingual Progressive Persian Haggadah. Rabbi Rabizadeh joins us after serving as the Jewish Emergent Network Fellow at The Kitchen in San Francisco, where she taught courses on topics such as Torah, Talmud, and prayer. She currently teaches at Milken Community High School in Los Angeles, as a Talmud and Torah teacher.

MAUREEN RUBIN  (Writer) is an Emeritus Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge. In her 30 years on campus, she served in a variety of administrative positions, published widely and received numerous teaching and public service awards.  Prior to joining the CSUN faculty, she worked as a speechwriter in the Carter White House, U.S Congress and several non-profit organizations.  She is a board member of The Braid, is partly responsible for their media outreach and often moderates Sunday Morning with The Braid.  She wrote Breaking Up Is Hard To Do for “AHA Moment.” 

DAPHNA SHULL (JWT Creative Associate/NEXT Literary Manager) is a four-time NEXT Arts Council Fellow, literary manager, writer, artist and photographer born and raised in Tampa, Florida. Daphna has been featured as a writer, songwriter and visual artist in multiple JWT productions and her book, The Quiet Things, is for sale on Amazon. Along with working at JWT, Daphna is a teaching artist at Cayton Children’s Museum and runs her own photography business, Happy Life Kids Photography. www.happylifekidsphotography.com.

BRIAN SONIA-WALLACE (Writer) is the fourth Poet Laureate of the city of West Hollywood, the latest in a string of unlikely poetic residencies ranging from Amtrak to the Mall of America. He’s been writing poems for strangers on the street since 2012 and is the author of The Poetry of Strangers (“full of optimism and wide-eyed wonder…he charms us” —The New York Times). Brian has been published in The Guardian, LitHub, and Rolling Stone and in 2021 will start a poetry column for The Pride LA. Brian teaches at UCLA Writers’ Extension and is the manager of Education for Get Lit – Words Ignite, bringing poetry to youth across LA County. His favorite animal is the three-toed sloth. More at briansoniawallace.com.

RONDA SPINAK (Artistic Director) created The Braid’s At-Homes Salon Theatre Series and since has curated and produced more than 62 original Jewish-themed salon shows, as well as adapted many of the pieces performed. Spinak developed and produced Ovation-recommended Not That Jewish at The Braid, which ran for 16 months, garnered an LA Drama Critics Circle nomination, and then moved to off-Broadway. She also produced Rain Pryor’s hit show Fried Chicken & Latkes and Vicki Juditz’s Ovation-recommended Sacred Resistance. Spinak co-wrote Stories from the Fringe, putting the stories of women rabbis on stage for the first time. Since then, she and her team have interviewed on videotape 180 national and international women rabbis, and in partnership with Jewish Women’s Archive have made many of the interviews available online at www.jwa.org. She has written for Rugrats, and her plays include Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite at the Ashland New Play Festival. She 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 so many creative people who give their hearts and souls to The Braid.  

SUZI WEISS-FISCHMANN  (Writer) Known worldwide as the “First Lady of Nails,” OPI Co-Founder Suzi Weiss-Fischmann has created thousands of iconic OPI shades, including You Don’t Know Jacques!, Bubble Bath, and I’m Not Really a Waitress. An industry trailblazer, Suzi ignited the dark nail revolution with Lincoln Park After Dark, was the first to add real diamond dust to nail lacquer, and mainstreamed nail art with Shatter by OPI. Suzi pioneered the development of OPI partnerships, making OPI the first nail-care brand to collaborate with Hollywood’s top films and celebrities, as well as with iconic companies including Coca-Cola, DELL, and Ford Mustang. In her current role as Brand Ambassador, Suzi serves as the voice of OPI. In 2019, her autobiography, titled I’m Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time, was published. For more information, visit www.1stladyofcolors.com.

SUSIE YURÉ (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 as 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 baking, gardening, dog training and hosting a monthly book club.

SOHAILA ZIVARI (Writer) Sohaila Zivari’s literary life started in early 2000 when she decided to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a writer. In the summer of 2011 she published her first book in English, Clay, Fire, and The Potter, a historical novel based on the life and works of the great Sufi poet, Rumi. Her second novel, A Bath House in the Garden of Adolescence, published in October 2014, is written as a long poem and, like her first novel, stems out of her Iranian culture and upbringing. Both novels are available on Amazon. She is currently working on creating her new literary website and podcast, SohailaWrites.com, while composing her memoirs, her mother’s life story as a Russian immigrant in Iran, and a fictional story based on ancient Zoroastrian and pre-Zoroastrian mythology.  Sohaila resides in Los Angeles with her husband and enjoys life with her children, and she especially has a grand time with her grandsons. 

GALLERY

Lisa Cirincione experiences an earthquake while living in Mexico City in “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.”

Brianna Gurdzhyan moves back home with her parents in “Can I Feel More Free During Covid?”