Reckoning with Dad

May 10 – June 1, 2015

Explore those moments in our lives when we either make peace or war with our fathers.  Anyone who has a father, or is a father or knows a father, will love this show.


Curated & Produced by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Ellyn Gersh Lerner
Dramaturge Lisa Rosenbaum
South Bay Producer Liz Altman
San Francisco Producer Carol Kirsh

Associate Producers: Barbara Koletsky, Susie Yuré & Rose Ziff

Written by Cindy Chupack. Performed by Lauren Aboulafia or Jessica Carleton, Robert Trebor, Melanie Chartoff and Lisa Robins.

Path of Least Resistance
Written by Bara Swain. Performed by Melanie Chartoff, Robert Trebor and Lisa Robins.

Dad Comes By
Written by Gail Israel. Performed by Lisa Robins.

Dad Was in the Army
Written by Ellen Switkes. Lauren Aboulafia or Jessica Carleton and Robert Trebor.

Written by Arla Sorkin Manson. Performed by Melanie Chartoff.

The Family Secret
Written by Lisa Rosenbaum. Performed by Robert Trebor and Lisa Robins.

Love More
Written by Barbara Bottner. Performed by Lauren Aboulafia
or Jessica Carleton and Robert Trebor.

Bag of Cherries
Written by Leah Kornfeld Friedman. Performed by Lisa Robins.

Dad, Me & Carnegie Hall
Written by Michele Brourman. Performed by Melanie Chartoff and Robert Trebor.

An Apology
Written by Jessica Newman. Performed by Lauren Aboulafia or Jessica Carleton.

Matzohrella Fella
Written by Melanie Chartoff. Performed by Melanie Chartoff, Robert Trebor, and Lisa Robins.

Tribute to My Father
Written by Rosanne Ziering. Performed by Lisa Robins.

True Little Poem
Written by Alison Luterman. Performed by Melanie Chartoff.


LAUREN ABOULAFIA (Actor) is thrilled to be a part of the Jewish Women’s Theatre, as her two loves are theatre and Jews. Lauren graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in theatre and studied at the British Drama Academy in London, where she played Rosalind in As You Like It, one of her favorite roles. Lauren has performed onstage at Interlochen and the Williamstown Theatre Festival and has participated in comedy troupes at the Groundlings and UCB. She recently appeared on Mistresses and Mixology on ABC and was one of the leads in the indie comedy $50K and a Call Girl: A Love Story. She’ll be performing her solo show, Moving On Up, at JWT this year.
BARBARA BOTTNER (Writer) writes for adults and kids. Her over forty books for children and teenagers have garnered national awards, appeared on the New York Times bestseller list as well as the ‘best of’ lists from Bank Street, Amazon and others. Her award-winning animations appeared on the Electric Company and Sesame Street and Jim Henson sang her lyrics. She’s written for children’s television, full length features and was staff for a CBS prime time sit-com. Her short stories appeared in Cosmopolitan, Playgirl, essays, humor and criticism in the LAWEEKLY, The Miami Herald and New York Times. Her editorial art was used in the New York Times Op Ed section as well as in Ms. Magazine. As an actress, she traveled through Europe with Ellen Stewart’s Café La Mama, and worked with Sam Shepherd and many others. She’s an award-winning teacher, currently to a talented bunch of LA authors. She is completing a free-verse YA novel, I See Thunder.
MICHELE BROURMAN (Writer) is a Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award winner whose songs have been recorded by Reba McIntyre, Olivia Newton-John, Donny Osmond, and more. Her best-known song, “My Favorite Year,” recorded by Michael Feinstein, Cleo Laine, and Margaret Whiting, has become a cabaret standard. Broadway World recently wrote: “Brourman is an unquestionably amazing talent whose music should be heard by the whole world.” She composed the score for Dangerous Beauty, produced at the Pasadena Playhouse, with lyricist Amanda McBroom. She and McBroom have created the songs for seventeen animated features for Universal Studios, including the beloved Land Before Time series. Her musical I Married Wyatt Earp, with lyrics by Sheilah Rae, was produced Off-Broadway, and her songs have been featured in television and film. Michele is particularly proud that her songs have been included in several recent productions by the Jewish Women’s Theater. A gifted musical director, she’s worked with exceptional artists like Dixie Carter, Tovah Feldshuh and Bernadette Peters, and played piano in Bob Dylan’s band. Michele’s CD, Fools and Little Children, is available online.
JESSICA HONOR CARLETON (Actor) is an actress and writer who has been honored to win three National Daytime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series (2014). Carleton was a series regular, head writer, and the puppet/makeup designer on more than 400 episodes of the national children’s TV show Green Screen Adventures (MeTV). She’s written for various animated series as well, including Curious George, Martha Speaks, and Nature Cat. Performance TV credits include Chicago Fire and Svengoolie. A Chicago native, Carleton’s theatre credits include The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter at Steppenwolf Theatre (playing Mick Kelly), In the Company of Men at Profiles Theatre (Christine), and Crippled Sisters in the New Stages Series at Goodman Theatre. Carleton is a graduate of Northwestern University in theatre and creative writing for the media. Thanks to Rose for making this LA dream possible, and to Jewish Women’s Theatre for inviting me into your artistic community.
MELANIE CHARTOFF (Actor/Writer) is an inventor of stories and characters for the page, stage, and screen. As an actress, she’s best known for roles in series such as ABC’s late-night comedy show Fridays, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, The Newhart Show, Ally McBeal, and Touched by an Angel. She won a Dramalogue Award for the LA premiere of March of the Falsettos and acclaim for her performances in ACT San Francisco’s Sunday in the Park with George, The Vagina Monologues in Chicago, and Beyond Therapy at LA’s Coronet Theater. She can be heard daily somewhere in the world voicing characters such as Didi on Nickleodeon’s long running Rugrats and its spin-offs, movies, and games. She’s written lyrics and book and costars in her upcoming two-character play with music, Fine Lines, and is a columnist for the Huffington Post and the Jewish Journal. She hails from the East Coast stages of Long Wharf Theater, Yale University, and off- and on Broadway (Scapino, Via Galactica, Do I Hear a Waltz). She currently enhances people’s public personae in her Charismatizing Improvising Coaching and Classes. For more information, visit her websites: (
CINDY CHUPACK (Writer) has won two Emmys and three Golden Globes as a TV writer/producer whose credits include Modern Family, Sex and the City, and Everybody Loves Raymond, and she’s currently in New York working on an upcoming HBO show called Divorce starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church. A longer version of this story about her dad appears in her New York Times bestseller “The Between Boyfriends Book,” and her new comic memoir about marriage “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife” is now available in paperback.
LEAH KORNFELD FRIEDMAN (Writer) received her MFA from Brooklyn College and has been a lecturer at Smith College, SUNY Albany, and Brooklyn College. In addition to three Yaddo Fellowships, Leah was a playwright-in-residence at the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards, including the New York Foundation for the Arts Playwrights Fellowship and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture Playwrights Award. Her plays have been produced at the American Jewish Theatre, Theatre for the New City, National Jewish Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, and the Gaslamp Quarter Theatre, among others. Her screenplay, Should’ve Been Romeo, features Ed Asner, Carol Kane, Paul Ben-Victor, and Michael Rappaport. Her book, Essie Finkelstein, Monologues for an Actress, has recently been published. Leah is proud to be the Playwright-in-Residence for 2015 at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre in New York City, where every month one of her plays is given a staged reading.
GAIL ISRAEL (Writer). Gail Israel’s love of writing began in the second grade with her unexpectedly poignant short story The Very Lonely Latke. Since then she has written poetry, short stories, picture books, and two young adult novels. She recently received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and is currently working on a collection of short stories. Her poems have been recognized for distinction by Writer’s Digest. She is grateful to be a longstanding member of Barbara Bottner’s master class for writers. Gail is married and has two amazing adult children.
BARBARA KOLETSKY (Associate Producer) has most recently worked on the production side of Jewish Women’s Theatre. Prior to that, for three seasons she was responsible for catering. Now Barbara is thrilled to be moving into stage management for JWT at The Braid. Barbara is also the owner of RSVP Party Planning, where as an experienced party planner she has produced many events, specializing in charitable organizations but with many corporate and private clients as well. Barbara was born in New York and moved to California for a career in marketing and promotions for Polygram Records and Elektra Atlantic Corp. She regularly volunteers at the Grossman Burn Center with her service dog, Rodney.
ELLYN GERSH LERNER (Director), a native Angeleno, has directed several salon shows for JWT, including Oh Mother, The Art of Forgiveness, and God Plans and Woman Laughs. Last year Ellyn co-wrote a play on artist and activist Ivy Bottini and is a frequent respondent for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. A longtime faculty member at California State University Northridge, Ellyn has taught courses in theatre and the humanities and is particularly fond of integrating theatre into interdisciplinary courses like The Idea of Story. Ellyn is a graduate of Occidental College, Ball State University, and UCLA, where she earned her PhD in theatre. Among the plays she has directed are the off-Broadway premiere of The Pretender, William Inge’s Bus Stop at the University of Michigan, Sophocles’ Electra at the University of North Te
JAMIE LEVINSON (Technical Director) graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2010. At Allegheny College he acted in two productions, The Cherry Orchard, where he played Yepikhodov, and Servant of Two Masters, where he played Florindo. During his primary education, he appeared in numerous talent shows.
ALISON LUTERMAN (Writer) has written books of poems that include The Largest Possible Life (Cleveland State University Press), See How We Almost Fly (Pearl Editions), and Desire Zoo (Tia Chucha Press). She has published poems in The Sun Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, and many other journals and anthologies. Two of her poems are included in Billy Collins Poetry 180 project at the Library of Congress. Her personal essays have appeared in Salon, The Sun Magazine, The L.A. Review, The New York Times’ Modern Love, and elsewhere. Five of her essays have been collected in the e-book Feral City, published at She has also written half a dozen plays, including a musical about kidney transplantation. Alison has taught and/or been poet-in-residence at New College in San Francisco, Holy Names College in Oakland, the Writing Salon in Berkeley, Esalen and Omega Institutes, the Great Mother Conference, and at various writing retreats all over the country. Check out her website for more information.
ARLA SORKIN MANSON (Writer) has written numerous television pilots, including Destiny and Me (ABC), Far from Where (ABC), The Shack (ABC), In the Mood (CBS), Loveland (CBS), and Bethany Gibbs (NBC), and has also written for the television series Against the Law (FOX) and Saved (TNT). Her TV-movie credits include The Wedding Dress (CBS) as executive producer, Mind Games (ABC) as writer/executive producer, and Acts of Contrition (CBS) as supervising producer. Arla’s contributions to Broadway theater include being co-producer on Beth Henley’s The Wake of Jamey Foster and production executive on Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy, Tom Dulack’s Solomon’s Child, and the Craig Carnelia musical Is There Life After High School? Arla has served on the board of directors and is currently on the advisory council and the selection committee of the Ojai Playwrights Conference. She dedicates this reading to her husband, David Manson, and her daughter, Lainie Sorkin Becky.
JESSICA NEWMAN (Writer) is from Denver, Colorado. By day she serves as the principal at West Career Academy, a public high school that works to graduate students who have dropped out or struggled in regular schools. By night she and her wife, Courtne, are the mommies to a very brand new little boy named Jasper John Newcuff, and will do everything she can to ensure that he enjoys the Colorado outdoors, art and culture, traveling, and following his own little heart as much as she enjoys these things herself.
LISA PEARL ROSENBAUM (Writer/Dramaturge) is the author of the novel A Day of Small Beginnings (Little, Brown & Co., 2006). Her family history with the 1950’s McCarthy era blacklist inspires her next novel, The King of Cahokia. Lisa lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband, Walt Lipsman. They have two daughters, Ariana and Maya.
RONDA SPINAK (Producer) created and produces JWT’s At-Homes Salon Theatre Series, now in its seventh season. She has curated more than 20 original Jewish-themed salon shows for JWT, as well as adapted many of the pieces performed. She graduated from Stanford University, and holds degrees from UCLA (MBA) and USC (Masters in professional writing). Ronda’s plays include Stories from the Fringe and festival-winner Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite at the Ashland New Play Festival and Dayton’s FutureFest. She has written for the Emmy Award-winning children’s show Rugrats and authored the critically acclaimed nonfiction book ProBodX: Proper Body Exercise (HarperCollins, publisher). Ronda is on the board of the Association for Jewish Theatres and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. She feels blessed to be working with the many talented and inspiring women who give so generously to Jewish Women’s Theatre.
BARA SWAIN (Writer) Bara’s plays and monologues have been performed in more than 100 venues in 16 states. NYC theaters include Barrow Group, Abingdon Theatre, Urban Stages, Sam French OOB Festival, Artistic New Directions, Project Y, Kaufmann, Gallery Players, Turnip Theatre, and Ego Actus. Give and Take, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Critical Care, and Prized Begonias are published in the Smith & Kraus Best Ten-Minute Play anthologies. Other presses include Applause Books, Original Works Publishing, Meriwether, and Art Age Press. Critical Care is reprinted in the new college textbook Serious Daring: Creative Writing in Four Genres, by Lisa Roney (Oxford U. Press), and serves as a key reading for the craft of playwriting. Honors include Heideman Award Finalist for Aboard the Guy V. Molinari; 2013 City Theatre National Award Finalist for Short Playwriting for The Hotel Lobbyist; and, by special invitation from Burt Reynolds, An Evening with Bara Swain, directed by Mr. Reynolds.
ELLEN SWITKES (Writer) was founder/producer of Cornucopia, a personal storytelling show that ran for three years at Actors Workout Studio in North Hollywood. For the past eight years she has volunteered with Koreh LA, the literacy program of the Jewish Federation, working with children in LAUSD. Prior to entering the storytelling world, she was an associate producer on Entertainment Tonight and a talent coordinator on The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers.
ROBERT TREBOR (Actor) had critically acclaimed major roles in John Frankenheimer’s 52 Pick-Up, Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio, Roland Emmerich’s Universal Soldier, and Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. He recently finished working on the new Coen Brothers film Hail, Caesar! He is best remembered for playing The Son of Sam opposite Martin Sheen in Out of the Darkness, and Salmoneus on the Hercules and Xena TV series. He began his theatre career in 1973 (with Robin Williams) and more recently won awards for his work in the world premieres of Ravensridge, La Ronde de Lunch, and his one-man show The Return of Brother Theodore. Bob is the author of Dear Salmoneus: The World ‘s First Guide to Love and Money, and And They Pay You for That?? An Actor’s Unreliable Memoir. This latter tome is looking for a publisher. Bob is a recent recipient of bone marrow from an unrelated donor. If you can, please join the National Bone Marrow Registry; it truly is a mitzvah and a lifesaver. Bob is proud to be an artist-in-residence with JWT.
SUSIE YURÉ (Associate Producer) has volunteered for 30 years 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 and has been intensely involved in the world of theatre for over 20 years. She holds a BA and MA in elementary education from USC, along with her California lifetime teaching credential. Her favorite role is as mom to her two talented (grown) children, who are both professional (and working) musicians.
ROSANNE ZIERING (Writer) is a person of many talents and interests and an active philanthropist supporting social, cultural, and environmental causes and institutions. She currently serves on the boards of the Broad Stage in Santa Monica and the Southern California Foster Family and Adoption Agency, in addition to the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Wolf Connection. Rosanne has a strong commitment to social change. In 2008 she became aware of the horrendous issues surrounding foster youth in Los Angeles, particularly youth who were exiting the system due to reaching age 18. To address these, she founded a co-mentoring project called FACE (Foster Alumni Co-Mentoring Experience). The project is still going strong, touching over 50 youth and growing. Rosanne has worked as an environmental educator for the Santa Monica Conservancy, is an avid supporter of the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) and a member of the Los Angeles NRDC’s Leadership Council. She earned a BS in conservation of natural resources from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MPW (Masters of Professional Writing) from the University of Southern California.
ROSE ZIFF (Associate Producer) is new to performing arts. She came out of retirement 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, dog training and hosting a monthly book club.



Artistic Director Ronda Spinak and Director Ellyn Gersh Lerner

Lauren Aboulafia explains her father’s method of communication in Cindy Chupak’s “Carmunication.”

Lisa Robins  recalls an unexpected visit from her father in Gail Israel’s “Dad Comes By.”