The Rest Is History

(Live on Zoom) A Production of The Braid & NEXT Emerging Artists Program

Inspiring, hilarious, and heartbreaking stories of living through historical times or personal moments that changed your life or even changed the world.

PRESS

DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE HERE

THE PROGRAM

Produced by Daphna Shull & Andrew Fromer
Material Adapted & Curated by Daphna Shull, Vicki Schairer, David Chiu & Ronda Spinak 
Lead Director Aysha Wax • Stage Manager Amanda Horowitz • Assistant Stage Manager Talya Camras
Artistic Director Ronda Spinak • Producing Director Susan Morgenstern Managing Director Sharon Landau

This show is generously supported by Gail Solo.
In loving memory of Gerri Miller, our friend and advocate at The Jewish Journal.

WELCOME — Ronda Spinak, Artistic Director

Hawaiian Songbird
Written by Sharon Bonin Pratt. Directed by Aysha Wax. Performed by Cliff Weissman.

Friend or Foe
Written by Jodi Marcus. Directed by Izzy Salant. Performed by Lisa Kaminir and Joshua Silverstein.

Southern Politesse
Written by Anonymous. Adapted from an interview by Vicki Schairer and David Chiu. Directed by Amanda Horowitz. Performed by Bonnie He and Lisa Kaminir.

Massages at Ground Zero
Written by Marissa Tiamfook Gee. Directed by David Chiu. Performed by Miata Edoga.

Interrupted
Written by Paul Itkin. Adapted from the short story by Daphna Shull. Directed by Aysha Wax. Performed by Joshua Silverstein, Miata Edoga, and Cliff Weissman.

Love in an Envelope
Written by Barbara Kroll. Directed by Daphna Shull. Performed by Lisa Kaminir and Bonnie He.

Choose a Box
Written by David Chiu. Adapted from an interview by David Chiu & Rona Berns. Directed by Julie Lanctot. Performed by Bonnie He.

Silence
Written by Mihai Grünfeld. Directed by Vicki Schairer. Performed Cliff Weissman.

Donut
Written by Jodie Mendelson Kay. Directed by David Chiu. Performed by Miata Edoga.

And Then She Kissed Me – A Commission of The Braid
Written and performed by Joshua Silverstein. Directed by Julie Lanctot.

Q&A POST SHOW

ARTIST BIOS

RONA BERNS (Writer) was pleased to be part of this year’s NEXT/ ChaiVillageLA partnership and was so happy to have David Chiu as her partner. They have a lot in common, including Lithuanian heritage and a great sense of humor. Rona was a shy only child but evolved to be part of school performances and enjoys musical theater. With a master’s degree from USC in library science, Rona started as a librarian. The last half of her career was spent in project management, building 65 new branch libraries in Los Angeles. She enjoyed working with The Braid and loves being a member of ChaiVillage and Temple Isaiah.

TALYA CAMRAS (Assistant Stage Manager) graduated from California Lutheran University with a BA in communication and a minor in technical theatre. Stage management credits include She Kills Monsters, Measure for Measure, The Pirate Queen Musical, columbinus (KCACTF), The Merry Wives of Windsor, Richard II, The Abuelas, The Colored Museum, and The Devised Works Project.  Zoom productions include You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and A Mysterious Affair at Soldier Island.

DAVID CHIU (2021 NEXT FELLOW/Writer) is a West LA-based screenwriter and two-time NEXT at the Braid Emerging Artists Fellow. Television: LORE (Amazon Prime). The Braid: True Colors, Inside Our Time, For Goodness Sake (also Director), I Am a Jew, Who’s Hiding Now? and The Rest is History (also Director & Literary). Represented by The Gersh Agency and Authentic Talent & Literary. Member of the Board of Trustees at Temple Isaiah of Los Angeles; recipient of its 2019 Emerging Leader Award. Environmental activist and volunteer on various electoral campaigns. Jew of Color, of Litvak and Cantonese heritage.

MIATA EDOGA (Actor) Originally from New York, Miata has performed in theatres across the US and London. Her solo show, A Step Beyond the Rain, was a featured production in the NY International Fringe Festival and had a sold-out run at the Two Roads Theatre in LA. Miata enjoyed a summer at Theater 150 in Ojai, appearing as Callie in Stop Kiss. Other roles include Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest and Isabella in Measure for Measure. Television and film work has included Black Monday, The Real O’Neals, and supporting roles in John Frankenheimer’s George Wallace and The Truman Show, directed by Peter Weir. Ms. Edoga graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, MA, and the British American Drama Academy in London. Passionate on the subject of financial education, Miata is the founder of Abundance Bound, a company providing innovative tools and workshops, teaching creatives to successfully manage their money.

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.

MARISSA TIAMFOOK GEE (Writer) grew up in Brooklyn, NY. She has always been active in her Jewish community, from being on the board of the Jewish Multiracial Network (JMN) to the board of IKAR, her current spiritual home. Marissa owns a corporate wellness company, helping companies keep their employees fit and healthy. She is also a former lawyer, teacher, runner, coach, and an outdoor adventure enthusiast. She runs, climbs, and explores every mountain and hidden trail she can find. She has traveled the world, worked in Uganda (volunteering through American Jewish World Service), taught English in Asia, worked at the UN in Geneva, studied abroad in Jerusalem and Amsterdam, and backpacked through the Pacific Rim, Australia, and Europe. She now has a more conventional life (although no less active!) and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.

MIHAI GRÜNFELD (Writer) was born in Cluj, Romania, where he lived with his family until he was eighteen. In January1969 he traveled to Czechoslovakia and from there escaped to the West. After a long journey, he eventually settled in the United States. He obtained his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and has just retired from the Department of Hispanic Studies at Vassar College, where he taught Spanish and Latin American Literature. His autobiography, Leaving – Memories of Romania, was published in 2008 and translated and published in Spain as Irse in 2011. Together with Sarah Levine Simon he adapted the novel The Dressmaker’s Secret into a play that enjoyed a successful one-month run with sold-out houses in 2017 at 59E59 Theaters in New York. He also finished translating and editing a memoir.

BONNIE HE (Actor) is an actor/comedian trained in improv and clowning. She acted opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal in the short film The New Empress and is a house team member at the renowned improv theater Second City Hollywood.  Her wordless one-woman physical comedy show, A Terrible Show for Terrible People, won the Craziest Solo Show award at the first-annual Crazy Woke Asians Solo Performance Festival, hosted at the Santa Monica Playhouse. #TerribleShow has toured nationally, at the Clown Theatre Festival at the Brick Theater in New York and at the Los Angeles Diversity in Comedy Festival at Second City Hollywood. Bonnie’s ultimate dream is to take the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Her hobbies include buying every utilitarian Hello Kitty item that she can afford, reading about obscure national holidays, and thinking about cake.

AMANDA HOROWITZ (2021 NEXT Fellow/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.

PAUL ITKIN (Writer) was a professional actor for more than 20 years, working in repertory, off-Broadway, television, and film. Translating his professional expertise to become an English and drama teacher, for 20 years-plus he taught every level of high school English, from Beginning ESL to 12th grade AP Literature. As a versatile stage director at Hollywood High’s Performing Arts Magnet, he has a track record of producing extraordinary results with young talent in a wide range of stage productions, including Rent, Chicago, In the Heights, The Grapes of Wrath, Mother Courage, The Elephant Man, The Glass Menagerie, and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the Moon Marigolds.

LISA KAMINIR (Actor) is an actress and storyteller known for her work in more than 40 television shows, a bunch of theatre and a smattering of films. She is a proud member of the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance and The Collaborative, where she currently serves as board president.

JODIE MENDELSON KAY (Writer) has been a volunteer with The Braid for nine years and currently serves as the secretary of The Braid’s board of directors. For her day job she is the senior project manager of cultural and entertainment, healthcare, and mixed-use construction projects for Cumming Management Group in downtown LA. When she is not working or volunteering, Jodie enjoys LA adventures with her husband, Greg Kay, and daughter, Rimona. “Donut” is her first piece to be performed at a Braid salon.

BARBARA KROLL (Writer) is a retired professor of linguistics and composition studies whose teaching career began at the then- nascent Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Israel. She specialized in teaching academic writing skills to non-native speakers of English, trained teachers of freshman composition, and wrote for and edited numerous academic publications. In 2005, her lifelong love of personal writing led her to craft travel stories on annual trips abroad with her partner, Ruth, and a few years later this evolved into a blog. She grew up in Brooklyn, spent most of her 20s in Israel, and has been living in Los Angeles since arriving here to attend graduate school at USC nearly 50 years ago. She and Ruth appreciate the many ways in which Zoom brought them a wide range of educational programs and cultural performances to entertain and comfort them during their pandemic hibernation.

ZAK LAMPERT (2021 NEXT Fellow), a Cincinnati native and community educator, has spent his professional life in Jewish programming and development. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a BA in Judaic studies and is currently pursuing his master’s in Jewish nonprofit management from HUC-JIR’s Zelikow School of Nonprofit Management. In addition to his participation as a NEXT Fellow, Zak is the senior manager of programming and development at ish in Cincinnati and previously worked with OneTable. Zak lives in Cincinnati with his partner, his adorable beagle, and a cabinet full of cookbooks to feed his love of entertaining.

JULIE LANCTOT (she/her) (2021 NEXT Fellow) is a director and actor based in Los Angeles. A proud alum of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television, Julie likes to think she has come a long way since scattering pounds of real hay all over the stage in her first directing class. Previously at The Braid, Julie co-directed The Way Home as a member of the 2019 NEXT cohort. Most recently, Julie assistant-directed her first audio play with Theatre of NOTE and assistant-directed Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Antaeus Company. For more information, please visit www.julielanctot.com.

JODI MARCUS (Writer) vividly remembers that day in second grade when she tucked herself into a corner to quietly read Swimmy, by Leo Lionni, and was struck by the desire to do this when she grew up — meaning write beautiful and powerful stories. She became an “everything but” writer, writing grants, marketing materials, and website copy, and working in the nonprofit sector for 18 years. Jodi recently joined The Braid team as its Community Partnership Lead to help share The Braid experience by booking shows across the country. In a much younger iteration of her life Jodi saw half of the world as a dancer. She’s now traded in her tap shoes for tapping on the computer, writing short stories, and working on a novel for middle-grade readers (10- 12-year-olds). This is her first story for The Braid.

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.

SHARON BONI PRATT (Writer) was born in Philadelphia and has lived in Hawaii, Alabama, New Jersey, Michigan, Colorado, and now California. Whatever goofy accents and questionable habits she picked up among those addresses, her Jewish faith remained her bedrock and beacon. When her two sons were young, she freelanced as an artist and art teacher, eventually turning a love for children and art into a career as an art teacher at several private schools. About 20 years ago, Sharon followed her childhood passion for telling stories and embarked on the journey to write. Her first novel, The Inlaid Table, placed in the top 250 entries in the 2012 ABNA contest. She has since written five other novels, hundreds of poems, and dozens of short stories, though none have yet been published. Other selections of her work can be read on her blog, Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s Ink Flare.

IZZY SALANT (2021 NEXT Fellow) is a native Marylander who relocated to Los Angeles and never looked back. Having studied theater and journalism at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he continues to channel his passion for writing and storytelling into his work. Plays include Rite of Passage (Kennedy Center) and Peace Talks (Bema Productions). Other than play- and screenwriting, he is currently the digital marketing manager and a Jewish educator for Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills and is an editor at Stropse.com. His goal in life is to tell stories that need to be told.

VICKI SCHAIRER (2021 NEXT Fellow) is a filmmaker, director, and writer. Vicki creates short films with the collaborative film collective she co-founded, The Outfit Films, as well as independently with her company, Vickiville Productions. She loves stories that explore the triumphs, failures, and nuances of the human condition. She associate-produces docuseries, short films, and branded content for major outlets and small companies. In her three years as a NEXT @ the Braid Fellow she has immensely enjoyed collaborating with the other fellows on the literary and directing teams. Previous Braid shows: Guilty Parties and The Space Between.

DAPHNA SHULL (Producer/Creative Associate) 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.

JOSHUA SILVERSTEIN (Actor/Writer) is an award-winning actor, comic, writer, beatboxer, and educator whose performances and productions throughout the country have prompted admiration from creative greats ranging from Norman Lear to Prince. For more than 20 years, Joshua has provided and facilitated theater, improvisation, and spoken-word workshops and in-school residencies designed to create a safe and open space for students of all ages to experience the freedom of creative expression. Joshua brings passion, play, and persuasion to make words, thinking, and expression infectiously fun. He served as the cohost and coproducer of Emmy Award–winning Downbeat 720 for 19 years and currently cohosts The Silversteins’ Show, a daily news program and podcast providing levity and context to current events with his wife, Cinthya Guillen.

RONDA SPINAK (Artistic Director) created The Braid’s 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.

AYSHA WAX (Lead Director) is a writer, director, and comedian who occasionally finds herself the unintentionally loudest person in the room. Aysha has had her sketch videos featured on Buzzfeed, Funnyordie, Wifey TV, and Whohaha and has performed improv and sketch around Los Angeles at iO West, the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Westside Comedy Theater, and the Groundlings, and toured her one-woman show, Hebrew School Horror. Aysha has written for the 2016 CBS Diversity Showcase, New Media Rockstars, and has directed three shows with The Braid. Aysha’s first short film, Grief Vigilantes, won best comedy and best director at numerous festivals.

CLIFF WEISSMAN (Actor) is an Abby Freeman Artist-In-Residence with The Braid and has appeared in several its presentations, most recently Stories from The Violins of Hope. His acting career spans over 35 years with dozens of roles in film, television, commercials and theatre. Numerous television credits include Better Call Saul, The Resident, Brockmire, NCIS, and Criminal Minds. Cliff can currently be seen in the Oscar-nominated Best Picture Judas and The Black Messiah.

SUSIE YURÉ (Director of Community Engagement/Associate Producer) has proudly worked with JWT for 11 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 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 gardening, dog training and hosting a monthly book club.