More Courage

May 6 – 16, 2017

Featuring stories by Jews and Muslims that illuminate our humanity, celebrate universal themes, and connect us all.




Adapted, curated & produced by Ronda Spinak

Directed by Eve Brandstein & Susan Morgenstern

Co produced by Aziza Hasan, Julie Bram, Maryam Saleemi, Sandy Savett, & Claudia Sobral

South Bay Producer Liz Altman  SF Bay Area Producer Carol Kirsh

Assistant Director/Tech Director Michelle Altman

Assistant Producer/Stage Manager Barbara Koletsky

Associate Producers Susie Yure & Rose Ziff

This a partnership with NewGround: Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change 

Written by Yasmin Magahed.  Performed by the ensemble.

Fresh Air and Miracles
Written by Suzanna Kaplan.  Performed by Tiffany Mualem, Mark Jacobson and Aneela Qureshi.

Negotiating Courage
Written by Mustafa Zeno.  Performed by Mark Jacobson.

One Foot in Front of the Next
Written by Bara Swain.  Performed by Ayelette Robinson and Tiffany Mualem

The Way Things Should
Written by Jelaluddin Rumi, 13th century mystic poet. Performed by Mark Jacobson.

The Space Between
Written by Maria Khani.  Performed by Aneela Qureshi and ensemble.

You Can’t Be Beautiful and Hate
Written by Barra Grant.  Performed by Tiffany Mualem and Ayelette Robinson.

Kosher Rebel
Story by Abby Stein.  Adapted from an interview by Julie Bram.  Performed by Ayelette Robinson.

Social Experiment — A Commission of Jewish Women’s Theatre
Written and performed by Travina Springer.  In Springer’s absence, performed by Aneela Qureshi.

Mothers – Adapted from Hadassah Magazine, April/May 2014 Issue.
Written by Leora Eren.  Adapted by Ronda Spinak.  Performed by Ayelette Robinson, Aneela Qureshi and Mark Jacobson.

Mi Shebeirlach
Music and Lyrics by Debbie Friedman.  Performed by Ensemble


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; 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.

MICHELLE ALTMAN (Assistant Director) grew up in the South Bay, then moved to the Midwest, and graduated from Drake University with a BFA in Theatre/Acting with a concentration in directing. She then moved to Chicago to pursue her career in theatre before coming back to LA to work with JWT. Directing credits include The Chocolate AffairSure ThingA Smell of Burnt FeathersImmature (co-writer), When Angels WeptEverybody Needs a Good Night OutThe Titus Andronicus Project (co-writer/producer), and Fishbowl: A Dramatic Improv. JWT credits include Fried Chicken & Latkes (Tech Director/Stage Manager), Temptation, Matzo Ball Diaries, and Exile: Kisses on Both Cheeks (Assistant Director).  Thank you to all who support the arts community!

EVE BRANDSTEIN (Director) has made contributions to every facet of the entertainment industry from studio executive, producer, director, writer/creator, talent manager, and author. Eve also has a notable career as a casting director. Credits include the feature This is Spinal Tap , television credits include Diff’rent Strokes, One Day At A Time, Facts of Life, Who’s The Boss, Beastmaster and Total Recall. Among her television production credits, she produced and developed  E/R the comedy series, and produced and directed the series John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You. She has directed over 75 theatrical productions, including most recent credits; the long running hit production of Not That Jewish, the NY Off-Broadway 2 year hit, Shut Up Sit Down & Eat, NY and LA premieres of Revisiting Wildfire, the NY premiere of Voices Of Swords, Ronnie Spector’s Beyond The BeehiveWaiting For Jack – A Beat Poetry ReunionClaiming Allen Ginsberg, and Suzanne Wang’s Cracked Open. Eve has also directed many Jewish Women’s Theater shows: Stories From the Fringe, Saffron and Rosewater, Hold Me, Heal Me, He Said, She Said, Past & Present: Russian Jewish American Stories and Beyond Jacob’s Ladder.  She also produces the bi-coastal spoken-word event Poetry In Motion since 1988.

LEORA EREN (Writer) is a Canadian-born journalist who, together with her Israeli husband, have two children who were born in Russia. They live in Modi’in and are members of YOZMA, the city’s Reform congregation. Leora has won numerous awards for her feature articles and personal essays, which have been published in a variety of publications including Maclean’s Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, and Hadassah Magazine. She particularly enjoys writing about ordinary people in extraordinary situations—something she has had ample opportunity to do since moving to Israel. “Mothers” is based on an essay that first appeared in Hadassah Magazine

BARRA GRANT (Writer), the daughter of the first and only ever Jewish Miss America, was born and bred in New York City. Educated at Bryn Mawr, Barnard, and the Drama Centre, London, she started her career as an actor in London and Los Angeles and went on to become a screenwriter-director whose films include Slow Dancing in the Big City, Misunderstood, Life of the Party, and Love Hurts.  She has received a Writer’s Guild Award and was nominated for the Humanitas and the Director’s Guild Awards. Her play A Mother, a Daughter, and a Gun, starring Olympia Dukakis, was produced in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Also a storyteller and story writer, she has performed her work at Spark Off Rose, Tasty Words, Tales by the Sea, and Beyond Baroque.  She is the proud mother of the first and only ever Samantha Kate Reilly, a Los Angeles artist.

MARK JACOBSON (Actor) is thrilled for his first chance to work with JWT. Touring: Kingsmen Shakespeare, Rogue Artists Ensemble. Regional: The Falcon, TheatreSquared, Phoenix Theatre, LA Opera, Shakespeare Center Los Angeles, Rogue Machine, Coeurage, The Blank, A Noise Within, The Antaeus Company, The Road, Playground-LA. He will be appearing next in the world premiere of Boni B. Alvarez’s Nicky with Coeurage Theatre Company. On-Camera: Mark is a series regular on Nickelodeon’s new series I Am Frankie. Other credits: LopezCriminal Minds: Beyond BordersHaven, BroadwayWorld’s Empty Space. An accomplished voice actor, he has been seen or heard in dozens of commercials. Mark teaches acting and improv for the US Army in Europe. Training: The Antaeus Company, Groundlings, UCB, BADA; B.A., USC. Thanks to this inspiring cast and production team, Susan and Ronda for the opportunity, and Victoria for always. Follow Mark: @SirMarkOfJ.

SUZANNA KAPLAN (Producer) was born in Mexico City, to an American mother and Mexican father, and grew up speaking English at home and Spanish everywhere else. As an actress and dancer, she performed in some of Mexico’s famous Vaudeville stages, as well as acted in commercials and films and on the stage.  Suzanna moved to the U.S. where she partnered with her best friend in a translation service and language school. Being young, they sold it as soon as it was making money and took off for Europe, eventually landing in Israel, which stretched out to 6 years, a husband, and a baby. Back in the U.S., Kaplan has been working in Hispanic advertising.

MARIA KHANI (Writer), a Syrian-American, was born in England, has lived in France, India, Syria, and Holland, and since 1988 has resided in California with her husband and three children. She earned her bachelor of arts in French literature from the Damascus University of Syria and speaks Arabic, French, and English. Interfaith has always been a key component in her life: a board member of the Orange County Interfaith Network (OCIN), she is also an active member in three interfaith groups—the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council, the Garden Grove/Stanton/Westminster Council, and the Newport/Costa Mesa/Irvine Council. Since 2010 she has also been a part of the West Coast Muslim Catholic Dialogue with the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs-United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Alongside these activities, Khani has been a member of the interfaith Walking Together Program,  geared at educating families with children in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam through fun and interactive sessions. In 2012, Khani and her daughter founded the “A Country Called Syria” exhibit, dedicated to educating the public on Syria’s rich history and culture and contributions to the world.