Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Katrin Hilbe

Katrin HilbeDirector, Writer, Producer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? Art, life, people around me, everything everywhere is fodder for my imagination.

What’s your favorite book / movie / line from a play / pop culture guilty pleasure / cocktail?
Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan: “There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.“

My favorite cocktail is the French 75 in either the gin and the cognac version, and I giggle helplessly at the 3-minute exchange between Steve Coogan and Ray Brydon in the movie The TripWe rise at Daybreak”.

What play or production changed your life? Peter Sellars’s production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro set in Trump Tower with amazing actor-singers, back in the 80s, informed me small-town girl that THAT can be done with opera! All of urban Europe knew this since the 70s, but I was sequestered in rural Liechtenstein. A professional life later I saw Michael Thalheimer’s production of Lessing’s Emilia Galotti at BAM. It contained the most moving physicalization of how one’s heart is broken.

I feel most like myself when I … am preparing a production, preparing rehearsals, and then am in rehearsals working with actors/singers, having all my planning overturned at the spur of the moment in the surge of batting ideas around, daring to try and err. Then I’m most myself in the best way that I am meant to be. Which is not to say it’s the most easy.

What is your best escape? Since being the best I can be of myself is deep effort, venting and lamenting with drinks and friends, peers, beloved, is the best escape.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? It’s so hidden, even I don’t know about it.

Katrin Hilbe is a director of opera and theatre, writer, producer and translator of Liechtenstein-Kansas origin. Her feet are planted firmly in mid-Atlantic, so international artistic outreach is vital to her. She functions as the Artistic Director of International Relations for MITF. More on: and

Joan D. Firestone

Joan D. FirestoneExecutive Director, The Moth
New York, New York USA

I was born into a family that prized creativity and the arts, where the pursuit of any artistic discipline was supported over acquiring property of any kind. Growing up in New York supported that value system and whether it was a visit to the Met or MOMA, a chamber music concert at the Frick Museum, a concert heard from the fifth tier of Carnegie Hall, a dance concert from the third balcony of City Center, or a play on Broadway for $1.95 in the balcony – they all became an essential part of my life.

I’m not sure when I encountered a bias against the arts – as frivolous and without intellectual or practical merit. It was probably dealing in the political arena during my tenure at the New York State Council on the Arts, where outside of a few exceptionally committed legislators, the arts received little attention and even less funding. The public schools were the first to suffer the diminishing priority and lack of funds. The arts disappeared from the curriculum and, sadder still, the teaching institutions stopped offering training in the arts.

For the past several decades arts advocates have fought back with resources and ingenuity and I am part of the battle scene. Inspired by Dr. Maxine Greene, a mentor who held the John Dewey Chair of Aesthetics at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Agnes Gund, Chairman Emeritus of MOMA, current Chair of P.S.1 and founder of Studio In A School, I found the inspiration to fight for the rights of all children to find self-expression in the arts. Following efforts at school reform from within the system, I have found in The Moth, the acclaimed storytelling organization, an invaluable teaching tool in storytelling that engages students, and gives them a voice and an identity in an otherwise anonymous environment. Thanks to an army of devoted arts advocates and providers representing all arts disciplines, new possibilities are opening to the current generation of students.

Joan D. Firestone. Executive Director, The Moth; former Co-President League of Professional Theatre Women; Independent Producer; former Board Chair, Cherry Lane Theatre; passionate arts advocate in government and education.

Margery Klain

Margery KlainProducer
New York, New York / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

When Bob Donnalley and I produced A Shayna Maidel in New York more than 20 years ago, we knew that the play had “legs.” We never imagined it would play for more than 500 performances and earn critical praise and many awards. In fact the play has been translated into at least six languages for thousands of productions worldwide. But as composer Ned Rorem says, with surety, “What works, works!” As I now prepare the revival of Barbara Lebow’s classic for Broadway’s 2012/2013 season, I am buoyed with the knowledge that every day, somewhere, there is at least one performance of A Shayna Maidel for new audiences – as well as for those wanting to renew their memory of this amazing classic.

In responding to the question of dreams to be fulfilled, I have two: 1) To perform Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor (as soloist) with an orchestra, and, 2) To own my own train car; I love trains and aspire to outfit a car that can be attached to any train I wish.

Margery Klain is Chair of LPTW Mentoring Committee. Producer: Daughters, A Shayna Maidel, Mountain, Das Barbecu; winner of Theatre World, Outer Critics’ Circle and Obie Awards; Drama Desk nomination. Nonprofit affiliations – The Philadelphia Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, “Women in Concert” for Womens’ Way. Broadway revival of A Shayna Maidel for the 2012/2013 season.

Melba LaRose

Melba Larose, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenArtistic & Administrative Director of NY Artists Unlimited,

New York, New York USA

A relic of the Warhol days, ex-“Queen of off-off-Broadway,” and a legend in her own mind, Melba LaRose (yes, that’s her real name) escaped to the West Coast in the ’70s in a full-length black velvet coat, hot pants, floppy hat, and ripped fishnets — the strangest thing that ever got off the bus. After shaking off the glitter, it turned out that, contrary to popular dish, she wasn’t a drag queen after all. She was accepted into Lonny Chapman’s Group Theatre, where she explored more traditional roles than those written for her in NYC by Jackie Curtis, assisted by the inimitable Candy Darling. Lulled into a lobotomy by the ocean waves and insistently repetitive sunny days, she began writing and directing plays about the underground in NY and soon was on a plane back to Gotham. Now, ensconced in the world of providing professional theatre to under-served audiences (for 30 years), she writes, directs and sometimes acts in touring productions of the nonprofit company, NY Artists Unlimited. Not completely forgetting the wild theatre history of her youth, she created the International CringeFest, an annual escapade of irreverent, naughty, politically incorrect, politically satirical plays and musicals by up & coming and already arrived playwrights.

Favorite book: Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past;
Favorite movie: Death in Venice;
Favorite line from a play: “What the fuck for, dial one?!” (Lanford Wilson’s 4th of July)
Favorite pop-culture guilty pleasure: “Family Guy”;
Life-altering play: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (original production);
Favorite cocktails: poured them out 40 years ago after drinking a fleet of sailors under the table (I was a child prodigy);
still dream of: getting a MacArthur Genius Grant… or going to Hinckley, Ohio, to wait for the buzzards to return;
feel most like myself when I am at the ietm International Theatre Conference in a different country every six months;
best escape: obviously, travel (Travelers Anonymous is calling);
one thing nobody knows about me: I’m shy.

These days, I spend my life contemplating existential angst over the current crisis throughout the world, but especially as it affects the arts. The meds are not working.

Melba LaRose. Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in Executives & Professionals. Formerly with the NY Street Theatre Caravan. She has been married 25 years to Brazilian sculptor Elson de Faria

Elizabeth Hess

Elizabeth Hess, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPerformer, playwright, professor of acting
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? I look to my dreams for inspiration – they are full of strange beauty.

What’s your favorite book? Love In The Time Of Cholera by Márquez was so exquisite that I slowed down my pace half way through reading it so as to savour its deliciousness.

What’s your favorite movie? Fannie and Alexander by Bergman – especially that moment when the door was open just a crack and the children witnessed their mother’s luxurious lament.

What play or production changed your life? I saw Kantor’s quasi-autobiographical play Wielopole, Wielopole at La Mama years ago – and afterwards stayed up all night writing one of my first plays.

Oh and the first time I visited New York I saw a piece of performative poetry by Maggie Beale that was magical. As was The Garden of Earthly Delights by Martha Clarke.

Is there anything you still dream of doing? I like to think of myself as an emerging artist – so there’s still lots and lots to do and the more it takes me out of my time and comfort zone the better!

Elizabeth Hess. International Festivals / Off-Broadway performances of solo trilogy; Living Openly & Notoriously. New York credits include The New Group, Women’s Project, Irish Arts, MTC and NYTW. She has also worked extensively in regional theaters. TV credits include Clarissa Explains It All; Law & Order. Film credits include: Handsome Harry, Soldier’s Heart. Ms Hess teaches at NYU & NTI.

Ludovica Villar-Hauser

Ludovica Villar-HauserDirector / Dramaturg
New York, New York USA

I grew up in England. My primary school Head Mistress insisted I have Speech and Drama lessons, when she heard me speaking English with a Spanish-German accent! It was during these lessons that I grew to love “words”; “drama”, “storytelling” and the relationship between an audience and the stage.

Art, music and books were a big part of my early life, but in an attempt to “fit in” I chose to turn my back on them all as “uncool”. And with a foreign name, even bigger and odder than I was, in a country where being English was so important, I desperately wanted to fit in. I hadn’t the wisdom to know that my immigrant parents had created an environment — with their art, music and books — best suited to fostering the imagination of an intense, very serious little girl. Nor did I realize at the time that much of the drama I would one day put on stage would be heavily informed by the drama I grew up with. When I produced and directed O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night in London’s West End at the age of 23, the first thing my mother asked was why had I put our family’s emotional life on stage!

My life has taken many detours. I have owned and operated a business and a downtown theatre; produced, directed and dramaturged; been VP of Programming and Chair of the International Committee for the League of Professional Theatre Women and founded Works by Women. I very much look forward to focusing on my great love — directing complex and challenging theatre — and on seeing more and more women take their rightful place in our industry — creating theatre and being recognized and compensated financially for their contributions. Check out Works by Women and help spread the word! (no charge to join and producers’ support of the initiative is reflected in our ticket prices!)

Currently working on a Broadway-bound production of Otho Eskin’s DUET about two glorious women of the theatre: Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse (a three-hander). Interested Producers —

Ludovica Villar-Hauser. West End: Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night; Gregory Murphy’s The Countess, NY and West End; Bold Girls by Rona Munro, Duet by Otho Eskin; Leaves of Glass by Philip Ridley; A Short Wake by Derek Murphy; As It Is In Heaven by Arlene Hutton. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Gail Kriegel

Gail Kriegel, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPlaywright, Composer, Director
New York, New York USA

I dreamed of being a concert pianist. So I could stay at home and practice, I started a mail order business selling celebrity photos. I made enough to pay for the ad in the Voice but not the gas, electric, or the bill from the movers who had hoisted my piano up to our 5th floor walkup. So I got a “real” job and practicing after work, when all our neighbors were home, was out. There was only so much they could take of the 3rd measure in Bach’s Italian Concerto.

Then one weekend we went to the North Fork. “What a great place for a theater!” I said to my husband. (He claims he said it.) Neither of us had any training, but if we had a summer theater, we thought, we’d have our own business, we’d only have to work for a few months, and in the winter we’d pursue our dreams.

So we mimeographed (!) a brochure, sold shares for $25.00 each and when we raised $2500.00, rented land in Greenport (next to Mr. Kramer’s drugstore because he agreed to let us use his bathroom), put up a tent and voila! – The Greenport Summer Playhouse. “What time is the show,” our first caller asked? “What time can you get here?” My husband answered.

Although the locals – mostly farmers and fishermen — were not too excited about our choice of plays, we decided to only do plays that we wanted to see. This gave us the opportunity to produce A View From the Bridge with Jason Miller; an African-American cast in A Taste of Honey featuring Hazel Scott; and one summer, The Fantasticks in which David Mamet played the Indian, a non-speaking role! And as I watched every rehearsal of every show, saw Jason Miller become Eddie Carbone one night and the next, Murray Burns in A Thousand Clowns, I thought: I want to do that; I can, I will. And that’s what inspired me to give up my dream of being a concert pianist (my teacher was very relieved!) and begin a career in theater.

Gail Kriegel is developing her musical Sweetie which began life when she was Artist-in-Residence at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Her play On the Home Front will be produced in LA next fall and she is one of the seven playwrights who wrote Seven which has been produced all over the world and translated into 10 languages.

Joanne Pottlitzer

Joanne Pottlitzer, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenWriter and Director
New York, New York USA

The play that changed my life would be Antigone. I was cast as Ismene for a radio production at Purdue University, where one of the theatre department’s directors was playing Creon. He asked me to join the cast of one of his productions and I spent the rest of my college years on stage in extraordinary roles, such as Julia in The Cocktail Party, Laurie in Green Grow the Lilacs, where I sang “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” a capella (!!), and Gertrude in Hamlet. Favorite line from a play: the last scene of Hamlet: “There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come – the readiness is all.” I also love Albee’s line in A Delicate Balance, which paraphrased is that we need to edit our memory in order to survive.

I remember one summer while I was in college reading D’Annuncio’s The Flame of Life, an autobiographical rendering about his relationship with Eleanora Duse, listening to the music of Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italiene. The music and the book are one in my memory.

My love of music covers a wide range–classical, new music (from Stravinsky to Steve Reich), fusion, folk, Latin, and I love country!

I look for inspiration in people I admire, the wonders of nature, art, ideas that either stimulate my mind or move me.

I feel most myself writing, painting…beside the Chilean sea, surrounded by the beauty of nature. My passion for other cultures stems from a summer spent in Mexico City when I was 19, living with a Mexican family and attending the National University. That also changed my life.

I don’t think I have any guilty pleasures. I just enjoy them.

My dreams include designing a house (I studied architectural design), painting professionally, acting again, adapting for theatre and film my book, Symbols of Resistance: The Legacy of Artists under Pinochet, about the influence of artists on the political process.

Joanne Pottlitzer, writer and director, has produced many Latin American plays in New York. She has received numerous producing and writing awards, including two Obies. Articles: NY Times, TDR, American Theatre, Theater. Teaching: Yale School of Drama, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Hunter College, Ohio University School of Theater.

Barb Kielhofer

Barbara Kielhofer, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenProducing Director at T. Schreiber Studio

New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
Art and music are a big inspiration for me. Whenever I need a pick-me-up a trip to the MET or a great concert always does the trick.

What’s your favorite book / movie / line from a play / pop culture guilty pleasure / cocktail?
My favorite book has always been Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, when I was little I used to re-read it every year over Christmas. My favorite movie is Chinatown, I love Polanski’s work and I love noir film so it is a marriage made in heaven. My favorite line from a movie has to be any line from Showgirls (which would also be my pop culture guilty pleasure). My favorite cocktail is a 3-way tie between a big glass of red wine, a dirty martini, and bullet bourbon on the rocks.

What play or production changed your life?
This is so cheesy but I have to say Les Misérables. My mom took me to see it when I was 6 or 7 and I turned to her during the show and said, “this is what I want to do” and I’ve been working in theatre ever since.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?
Travel the world. I’d love to just bum around the world for a few years seeing and experiencing as much as I can.

I feel most like myself when I …
am kicking ass. Metaphorically speaking that is, I don’t get violent with other people. I feel best when I’m really rocking on a project or doing the best I can on whatever it is I am working on.

What is your best escape?
Home. My apartment is my haven. I go there to be quite and alone and to recharge.

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you?
Nothing. I’m kind of an open book. Anyone who has ever talked with me for any length of time or has read either of my blogs can tell you I am a bit of an over-sharer.

Barb Kielhofer holds an M.F.A from Columbia University. She has been producing at T. Schreiber Studio for 3 years including the NYIT award-winning Balm in Gilead. She is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women and Theater Resources Unlimited’s Producer Development Program.

Regina Gatti

Regina Gatti, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenProducer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration? Music, musicals, plays, friends and family!

What’s your favorite book / movie / line from a play / pop culture guilty pleasure / cocktail? I don’t like to choose one favorite per category because I feel like it is so finite but to name a few favorite books… The Kite Runner, The Hunger Games, The Princess Trilogies, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

What play or production changed your life? Dreamgirls, when I was in the 5th grade. I seem to remember there being some simple staging and change of lights that suggested a change from the characters being backstage to being onstage within one of the songs – I just thought it was the most magical thing.

Is there anything you still dream of doing? Producing on Broadway

What is your best escape? A relaxing vacation

What’s the one thing nobody knows about you? I was very instrumental in the formation of

Regina Gatti, BFA Musical Theatre, East Carolina University. Currently the Business Development Manager for The Araca Group. Spearheaded the partnership with NYC & Company, forming Recently produced Little Shop of Horrors (The Gallery Players, Brooklyn). Board Member New York Theatre Barn.

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