Hey, Gorgeous!

January 11-13, 2010


Produced by Ronda Spinak
Associate Producers: Deena Novak & Abby Freeman
Directed by Kayla Gordon

Ronda Spinak, Producing Artistic Director

Blessing – The Beauty of Sarah
Written by Rabbi Lynne Kern, Board member
Performed by Maia Danziger

Art Talk
Ruth Weisberg, Jan 11th
Shelly Gazin Jan 12th and 13th

Singing Benny Carter
Written and Performed by Deborah Pearl
Lyrics by Deborah Pearl, Music by Benny Carter

Monologue from Phaedra in Delirium
Written by Susan Yankowitz
Performed by Maia Danziger

Ugly Beautiful –WORLD PREMIER
by Ronda Spinak

I Never Heard of Violet – A Memory Piece, The Bronx, NY
Written by Leah Komfeld Friedman
Performed by Caroline Aaron

A Shayna Meydele – WORLD PREMIER
Written and Performed by Monica Piper

Below The Waist
Written by Cesi Davidson
Performed by Caroline Aaron & Maia Danziger

By Ronda Spinak

A Discussion with the Artists

Learn more about Guest Fine Artist Shelley Gazin at: www.shelleygazin.com


CAROLINE AARON (Violet/I Never Heard of Violet & Stella/Below the Waist) is an accomplished actor in film, television and stage. Directors such as Woody Allen, Mike Nichols, Robert Altman, Nora Ephron, Paul Mazursky, Don Roos, and many others keep her in demand. Her work with Nichols includes: on Broadway in Social Security, and in films such as Heartburn (opposite Meryl Streep), Working Girl, Primary Colors, and What Planet Are You From? Film audiences perhaps best know her as Woody Allen’s sister in “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, but she has worked with Allen in Alice, Bullets Over Broadway, Husbands and Wives, and Deconstructing Harry. She has guest starred on Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, Shark, Sex and The City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Six Feet Under, among others. She is the recipient of a Helen Hayes and Dramalogue Awards.
MAIA DANZIGER(Diane/Below the Waist, Phaedra/Monologue from Phaedra in Delirium) 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.
CESI DAVIDSON (Playwright/Below the Waist) has had her work staged at the Henry Street Settlement Abrons Arts Center, the Nicu Spoon Theatre and most recently, the National Black Theatre. Her plays include: Chakalaka, Adagio, Garden Party, Juicy, Soap Cream & Incense, Bringing Tiny Home, Embraceable You, Duck Sauce, Scat, End Pieces, Fashionable Shoes, Con Cuidado, Silent Re-acquaintance, The Crest of Watercress, Damselfly, Faceless, Richard the Baker the Magic Cake Maker, and Below the Waist. She is a member of the Dramatist Guild.
ABBY FREEMAN (Associate Producer) is a classically-trained actress who studied at the Tisch School of Arts at New York University. She is a Co-founder of AiRealistic, an aerial theatre company, and currently performs and choreographs for events and theatrical shows in Los Angeles. She has choreographed and performed in New York and Los Angeles, as well as many international cities. She has created original work for clients including Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, Wal-Mart and Red Bull. Most recently, she performed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, The Edison Downtown, and the 2009 LA Philharmonic Inaugural Gala. She was a Fulbright scholarship finalist and has completed the first year of her MBA at the Anderson School of Management. She plans on continuing to work in Arts Management.
LEAH KOMFELD FRIEDMAN (Playwright/I Never Heard of Violet) is the recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts Playwrights Fellowship, National Foundation for Jewish Culture Playwrights Award, three Yaddo Fellowships, Finalist Shenandoah International Playwrights Retreat Festival and the Francesca Primus Prize for Playwrighting, Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Her work was included in the recent New Play Festival at The Cherry Lane Theatre, New York City (members of League of Professional Theatre Women). Her honors include: nomination for Obie, New York, Jefferson Award, Chicago, Ill., The Dramalogue Award, Los Angeles. Her name is found in the Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States. She holds an MFA and is an adjunct lecturer, Brooklyn College.
SHELLEY GAZIN (Artist) is an award-winning artist with support from the California Council for the Humanities, Righteous Persons Foundation, and Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Her seminal work Looking for a Rabbi, which she produced, designed and exhibited as a site-specific installation at the Skirball Cultural Center is based on her interviews and photographs of over 30 Los Angeles pioneering Rabbis. Additionally, Looking for a Rabbi has been exhibited in Arizona and along the East Coast. Most recently she presented it at the Association for Jewish Studies Conference with publication slated for 2010. Currently, she is conducting primary immersion photo-research and video documentation of the local Persian Jewish Community to be archived at UCLA.
KAYLA GORDON (Visiting Resident Director) was the Artistic Director for Winnipeg Jewish Theatre for 11 years, where she directed and produced over 30 productions as well as commissioned and produced 10 new Canadian plays. For the last three years, she has taken on the role of Executive Director for the Association for Jewish Theatre – an International Jewish Theatre organization. Her honors include: the Governor General’s award, a nomination for the John Hirsch young director’s award and numerous awards from The Canada Council and Manitoba Arts Council. She holds a master’s degree in theatre and also teaches acting and musical theatre at the University of Winnipeg. Currently she works as a freelance director.
RABBI LYNNE KERN (Blessing) is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and is a poet and writer who has been published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies worldwide. She teaches classes for women in synagogues and is currently working on a Jewish Memoir. As a pulpit rabbi, she created innovative women’s programming focused on excavating the women’s voice in Torah, and the creation of ritual and spiritual writing. Currently, she is working on a documentary about women rabbis, and an accompanying theater piece. She is also in the process of writing two books.
DEENA NOVAK (Associate Producer) is a consultant and has managed theatre operations. Her imagination and suggestion sparked the reinvention of the former Jewish Women’s Theatre Project, and helped turn it into the current vision of a working theatre.
DEBORAH PEARL (Singing Benny Carter) is a screenwriter/playwright, singer and actress. She was a writer/producer on DesigningWomen and has performed her one-woman show Chick Singers at the Cinegrill in Hollywood, as well as at the Odyssey Theatre. She does a monthly jazz service at Temple Isaiah with Cantor Evan Kent; and sings at High Holiday Services at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
MONICA PIPER (Author/Performer, A Shayna Meydele) 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.
RONDA SPINAK (Producing Artistic Director) holds an MBA from UCLA and two degrees from Stanford. She has penned plays (produced in festivals from Ashland, Or. to Dayton, Ohio), written for the Emmy Award winning children’s show, Rugrats, authored a book (Probodx: The Path to True Fitness, HarperCollins publisher) as well as written poems, short stories and yet to be produced screenplays.
ANDREA WAGNER (Associate Producer) holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Theatre Arts. She has taught theatre on both the high school and college level and directed and designed for community theatres.
RUTH WEISBERG (Artist) Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, is the recipient of the Art Leadership Award from the National Council of Art Administrators and the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award, 2009. Weisberg has had over seventy solo and 170 group exhibitions, recently a major exhibition at the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena and a retrospective, at the Skirball Museum, Los Angeles. Her work is included in sixty major Museum collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; The Biblioteque Nationale of France, Paris, France; Istituto Nationale per la Grafica, Rome, Italy; The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The National Gallery, Washington, D.C. and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
SUSAN YANKOWITZ (Playwright/Phaedra in Delirium) is a playwright, novelist and librettist. Among her plays are Night Sky(produced off-Broadway and internationally); Phaedra in Delirium(winner QRL poetic play competition); Terminal and 1969Terminal1996, collaborations with Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theatre (Drama Desk Award); A Knife in the Heart (Sledgehammer Theatre 2002); and Foreign Bodies (finalist, O’Neill Conference 2008.) Her novel, Silent Witness, was published by Knopf and Avon. Her work has been translated into ten languages, and is widely published and anthologized. www.susanyankowitz.com


Ruth Weisberg, Dean of USC’s Roski School of Fine Arts

Ruth Weisberg discussing Art & Beauty

Award-winning artist Shelley Gazin

Shelley Gazin during Salon Q&A

Singer Deborah Pearl

Deborah Pearl with photo of Benny & Hilma Carter

Comedian Monica Piper

Monica Piper performing “A Shayna Meydele”

Actress Maia Danziger

Actress Caroline Aaron