Season 4 Launch Party

ARTIST BIOS

MAIA DANZIGER (Actor, Performing The New Colossus & “Mother” in Chambers) 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.
SHIRA FOX (Vocals) is the daughter of two Los Angeles cantors. Shira has served as Cantor of Temple Rodeph Shalom and at Temple Beth El. Her theatrical credits include lead roles in Lil Abner and Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She is an alumnus of Brandeis University, and currently acts as B’nai Mitzvah Teacher and Program Coordinator at Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation.
CHET GRISSOM (Actor, Performing In the Name of God & “Daniel” in Chambers) has supporting roles in last year’s feature films The Crazies (Timothy Olyphant), Fair Game (Sean Penn, Naomi Watts), and the upcoming Nobody Walks (John Krasinski). He has appeared on over 40 TV shows, most recently The Event, Castle, Criminal Minds, Mad Men, and the upcoming Scandal, since moving to L.A. from Chicago in the late 90’s where he received a BFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University and became a veteran of the Chicago theatre scene. His stage work in Los Angeles includes Terra Nova (South Coast Rep.), More Lies About Jerzy (Circus Theatricals), The Bird and Mr. Banks, Swimming (Road Theatre), Taming of the Shrew (Orpheum), After the Fall, Central Avenue, Night of the Iguana, and Summer and Smoke (Fountain). He’s on the Artistic Board of The Road Theatre Company where he has been a member since 2004. After the Fall and Summer and Smoke both won the Ovation Award for Best Production in an Intimate Theatre. He’s got the added pleasure of being married to the playwright, Lisa Kenner.
LISA KENNER (Writer, Chambers) has seen the full-length version of Chambers become a 2011 finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and WordBRIDGE, and a semi-finalist for the Ashland New Play Festival and PlayPenn. A monologue from Chambers was presented at the National Playwrights SLAM at this year’s TCG Conference. In 2010, Lisa was invited to be a Guest Artist at The Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive in Washington, D.C. In 2009, her play Shelter was in consideration for PlayPenn and enjoyed workshop readings at The Road Theatre and Theatre of NOTE. Her work has been also presented at The Blank Theatre, The Robey Theatre, and The Victory Theatre. Lisa is working toward her MFA in the Lesley University creative writing program for Stage and Screen. Additionally, she works as the LA Coordinator for the national non-profit, Reboot. A graduate of Wesleyan University and a Boston native, Lisa lives in Eagle Rock with her husband, actor Chet Grissom. She is a proud member of The Playwrights Union and The Dramatists Guild.
RABBI LYNNE A. KERN (Writer, In the Name of God) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, poet and writer whose work 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. She is also a Founding Board Member of the Jewish Women’s Theatre.
STEPHANIE MANGLARAS (Actor, Performing In the Name of God & “Mari” in Chambers) has worked on stages in LA, Chicago and New York. In LA, she appeared in Suffer the Long Night(Garland Award Honorable Mention) and is a founding member of The Mad Scene Theatre Company where she has acted, directed and produced. In Chicago, she was awarded two Joseph Jefferson Citations and has worked with such esteemed directors as Tony Award Winner, Robert Falls. She has appeared in numerous commercials, television and film. She is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory.
ANGELLA M. NAZARIAN (Reading from her book, Life as a Visitor) is a part-time faculty in the psychology department at local universities in Los Angeles. She also facilitates adult personal development seminars for women. Her writing and award-winning verses have appeared in the MOTH and in New Millennium Press Literary Publications. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, More magazine, and to Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference. In her best-selling book, Life as a Visitor, Angella presents two interwoven narratives— her family’s harrowing escape from revolution-rocked Iran to the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills, and of her own quest to understand both her past and her present through travel. Her second book, Pioneers of the Possible: Twenty Visionary Women of the World, is due to come out in February of 2012. For more information on Angella and her work, please visit www.angellanazarian.com
MONICA PIPER (Writer/Performer, Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful) 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 #1 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. www.monicapiper.com
RONDA SPINAK (Writer, A Bit of Pastrami on Rye) is a writer and producer. She created the At-Homes Salon Theatre Series. She holds an MBA from UCLA, a Masters in Professional Writing from USC and two degrees from Stanford. She has written for the Emmy Award-winning children’s show, Rugrats, authored the critically acclaimed nonfiction book ProBodX: Proper Body Exercise (HarperCollins, publisher), and written many plays, including Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite in the Ashland New Play Festival and Dayton’s FuturFest. She is currently producing a documentary film about LA women rabbis and recently penned the play Stories From the Fringe, the personal stories of women rabbis culled from the transcripts of the documentary film. Stories From the Fringe is being produced at the Rochester JCC in October.
ANDREA WAGNER (Director, In the Name of God) has worked in non-profit for 25 years and was instrumental in the creation of the Jewish Women’s Theatre. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Theatre Arts and has taught theatre on both the high school and college level. As a member of several community theater groups throughout California, she directed plays, designed costumes and envisioned sets. Currently, she is a Managing Director of Jewish Women’s Theatre, on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Docent Council Board and teaches Yoga in several locations throughout West LA.
SUSIE YURE (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. Yuré has produced musical theatre productions, classical concerts and cabaret performances and been intensely involved in the world of theatre for over 20 years. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from USC along with her California Lifetime Teaching Credential. She has also worked in the medical and business fields. She is currently president of Lev Eisha, a woman’s non-profit religious organization and spiritual community that meets once a month for a musical Shabbat experience. Her favorite role is as mom to her two talented (grown) children, who are both professional (and working) musicians.

THE PROGRAM

Event Chair Lynne Himelstein
Assistant Event Chair Andrea Wagner
Produced by Ronda Spinak

Associate Producers: Susie Yure´

Poem ~

In the Name of God – (Written three days after September 11, 2001)
Written by Rabbi Lynne A. Kern, Directed by Andrea Wagner
Performed by Chet Grissom, Stephanie Manglaras, Karanai Ravenscroft
Vocals by Shira Fox

Welcome ~ Lynne Himelstein, Event Chair and JWT Board Member

Volunteer Appreciation ~ Andrea Wagner, Founding Board Member

Our Season 4 Gratitude ~ Ronda Spinak, Artistic Director

A Sample of Salon Theatre ~

The New Colossus
Written by Emma Lazarus, Performed by Maia Danzinger

“The Crossing,” from Life As A Visitor
Written and Read by Angella Nazarian

Hallelujah
Music and Lyrics by Leonard Cohen, Performed by Shira Fox

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful – Reprised from Season 3
Written and Performed by Monica Piper

A Bit of Heaven in Pastrami on Rye — Reprised from Season 1
Written by Ronda Spinak, Performed by Lisa Robins

An excerpt from the play, Chambers
Written by Lisa Kenner
Performed by Maia Danziger, Chet Grissom, Stephanie Manglaras

Tefilat Haderech
Music and Lyrics by Debbie Friedman, Performed by Shira Fox

GALLERY

Hostess Gail Israel and Assistant Event Chair Andrea Wagner

Arts Council member Robin Mitchell

Patron arriving at the fall launch party

Patrons checking in

Event Chair Lynne Himelstein welcomes everyone

Artistic Director Ronda Spinak

Opening poem

Author Angella Nazarian

Comedian Monica Piper

Actress Lisa Robins

Actor Chet Grissom

Actress Stefanie Manglaras

Actress Maia Danziger

Cast of Fall Launch Party

Vocalist Shira Fox

Patrons enjoying the salon program

Audience

Ending song

Photos courtesy of Deborah Alexander